Tag Archives: weekend reflections

What is Faith?

To hear with my heart,
to see with my soul,
to be guided by a hand I cannot hold,
to trust in a way that I cannot see,
that’s what faith must be.
(Michael Card)

These lyrics come to mind alot these days as we continue to reach for this hand that we cannot hold. And so, I hope you don’t mind if we talk about faith a bit. You may say you don’t have faith. You may wish you had more. You may believe God can do something, but aren’t sure if He really will. Reading through Hebrews 11, I just have a hunch these men and women could relate. But they are in there for their faith. SO…how de we keep moving when there is so much left unseen?

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen.
It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. (Hebrews 11.1)

I love how the writer of Hebrews uses this one verse to define faith. Then the rest of the chapter to describe faith. To flesh it out. See, he knows that putting some words together doesn’t sink in nearly as deep as attaching flesh and bones to an ambiguous idea. It’s like we need to see faith in action to understand what it means. Which really is some pretty crazy stuff.

It was by faith Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying (v. 5)
Noah obeyed God, who warned him about something that had never happened before (7).
It was by faith Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home…he went without knowing where he was going (8).
It was by faith Abraham offered Isaac (his son!) as a sacrifice when God was testing him (17).
It was by faith that Joseph confidently spoke of God’s bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt. He was so sure of it that he commanded them to carry his bones with them when they left! (22).
It was by faith that Moses chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of the fleeting pleasures of sin (25).
It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground (29).

We can start to think these “Heroes of the Faith” are some super-human people. That there’s no way God would use us because we are not nearly at that saint-level. That there’s a whole bunch of stuff we have done and do wrong every day. So, we’ll likely be remembered as “Zeroes of the Faith.” Then there’s this verse that brings hope.

…It was by faith that Rahab the Prostitute did not die with all the others in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies (31).

Wait. Rahab the… what? One word may seem misplaced.
But I find it inspiring.

This one word reminds us who really is the Hero in all of this. There’s nothing intrinsically special about these people. They aren’t recognized because of their super-humanness. But because of their faith!
God called. They listened. They obeyed.
They didn’t make excuses because of their past or even their present. They weren’t hindered by their unworthiness. They weren’t stuck in their undeserving state. They were so captivated by this miracle-working Maker of theirs that it compelled them to take a step. Even if it meant risk.

…Moses kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the One who is invisible (27).

The further we walk down this road, the more comfort I find in these examples of faith fleshed-out. It’s really hard to read Hebrews 11-12 and question the sanity of these steps that we are taking. Because I just can’t say this enough: This is never about us. If it were, we wouldn’t get very far… stumbling over our undeservedness, held back by our unworthiness. When we have our eyes on the One who is invisible, we can’t help but keep right on going. Because HE is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. From the miracle of new life, to the hope of each new day, to the promise of seasons change… the demonstration of His hand at work all around us is endless!

I believe in Christ, like I believe in the sun – not because I can see it,
but by it I can see everything else.
(CS Lewis)

I understand why The act of believing or trusting in something intangible is called a “Leap of Faith.” Faith may be something you stumble into, but most often it requires us to take a giant leap. To find there are some great big invisible Hands to catch us. And lead the way.

Benched

I wasn’t really into sports as a kid. Probably because of my lack of competitiveness and coordination and skill, to name a few 🙂 and my fear of letting anyone down (due to the lack of the above). One sophomore day, I considered trying out for volleyball. But since the team seemed to have come out of the womb playing volleyball with spandex and knee pads, I assumed my options were to spend my fall sitting on the bench or not try out. So, I played it safe and found something else to do with my time.
I successfully eluded the bench that sophomore year.
But sometimes in life, the bench is unavoidable.
There may be times when you feel “benched.” Sidelined. Like the game of life just got good, and you were asked to sit out this quarter. Maybe it is part of suffering consequences for a poor decision, or maybe you feel like it’s just bad luck.

You may be feeling the disappointment of this world – job losses, adoptions failed, vows broken, miscarriages, “no” votes, singleness that overstayed its welcome, talents overlooked, friendship abandoned, callings unfulfilled, health deteriorating, promotions that won’t happen, questions unanswered, dreams that haven’t come true…
You are not alone. And when we experienced our share of moments on the bench, God showed me we were in good company.

I think of Moses.
Escaped death as a baby, floated into the arms of royalty, adopted by a princess (Exodus 2.5-6). Next thing you know, there’s orders out for his life (Exodus 2.15), and he flees his castle-home. He spends the next 40 years in the outback. How quickly his life changed in a sentence! He went from royalty to wanderer in a few verses. One strike, and he is out. I can’t imagine how many times he played that inning differently in his mind. How often he looked back with regret. And we’d be tempted to think there was an error in his story until we recall it is God’s story. He never left. The Great I AM shows up big in a burning bush (Exodus 3.3-6). All these years He has used to prepare Moses to be the deliverer. Seemingly “out of the blue,” he hears NOW GO (Exodus 3.10). We know the rest. You can read it or watch the movie. God unveils His big plans for this man, that He no doubtedly had all along. But those nights when he laid his head down, far from the lights of the castle, I bet he had to wonder why.

Then, there’s David.
The most unlikely in the land to be anointed the next king (1 Samuel 16.7). But, He is God’s chosen. Talk about the promotion of a lifetime. So then, this featherweight David enters the ring with giant-heavyweight Goliath. One blow and Goliath is knocked out. (1 Samuel 17.32ff). David is champion of the land! Shepherd boy to Superstar overnight. Except the king heard one too many rounds of Saul has killed his thousands, but David has killed his ten thousands (1 Samuel 18.7). And Saul’s jealousy burns into hatred for David that cannot be quenched until he is taken out of the game. From that time on, Saul kept a jealous eye on David (1 Samuel 18.9). David now stayed in the strongholds of the wilderness…Saul hunted him day after day (1 Samuel 23.14). He must run for his life. It was one thing for Moses to run from something he did. But at this point in time, David did nothing other than be a man after God’s own heart. And this is the reward he gets? How many times David must have looked to the sky, asking “What gives?!” What is stored in our hearts comes out in those times on the bench. And yet, we see in David’s prayers that in the midst of unfair, unjust, evil treatment; God is faithful. David can say with confidence: The Lord always keeps his promises; He is gracious in all He does. The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads (Psalm 145.13-14). As if David’s response to this isn’t already out of this world, his reaction to hearing of Saul’s death is nothing short of extraordinary! You would think he would breathe a sigh of relief. But, he grieves for Saul as if he hadn’t hunted his life day after day after blasted day…for 20 years. It’s shocking, really (2 Samuel 1.11-12). All those years of hot jealous pursuit, yet David mourns his death like that of a loved one.

And, who can forget Joseph?
(Well, besides the baker and the cupbearer.) Kind of a bizarre story of favoritism, given this coat of many colors from his dad. Again, jealousy breeds evil. And his brothers are sick and tired of staring at that colorful cloak, and will do whatever to rid themselves of the pain of not measuring up (Genesis 37.18-28). The favorite son becomes a slave. But God was not caught off-guard, up in heaven thinking uh-oh. You see, The Lord was with Joseph and blessed him greatly (Genesis 39.2). Potipher bought Joseph, recognized this and eventually put him in charge of his entire household (Genesis 39.3-6). Joseph was an upright man, which landed him in prison (Genesis 39.7-20). We’d be tempted to think he was unfairly benched. That after all that, he was gonna sit out for the rest of game for a mistake he did not make. Au contraire. But the Lord was with Joseph there too, and He granted Joseph favor with the chief jailor (Genesis 39.21). He serves faithfully, using the gifts God gives and is still forgotten (Genesis 40.23). BUT. Not by God. Two years later, the Pharoah sends for Joseph. And this time, he is promoted to the most prestigious job in the land: Who could do it better than Joseph? For he is a man who is obviously filled with the Spirit of God (Genesis 41.38). Just like that, Ruler of Egypt! He didn’t work his way to the top. This was not coincidence. This was a plan orchestrated by the Grand Conductor to save His people. And Joseph got it. Enough to forgive the brothers we would consider responsible for this. Don’t be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it. He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives (Genesis 45.5). Even the names of his kids reveal that Joseph was not alone in that prison cell. (Manasseh: God has made me forget all my troubles, Ephraim: God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.) God had never left. But, I wonder how many nights in prison a homesick, betrayed, lonely, confused, forgotten brother felt like He had.

These men got it right. Their minds were not fixed on themselves, thinking this life was all about them. Their eyes were not set on the temporal, needing this world to treat them right. Their hearts were yielded to their Creator. They realized a much grander tapestry was being woven. With threads of conflict strengthening character. Injustice breeding the desire for integrity. Loneliness deepening dependence on the One who will never forsake. These are everlasting threads that withstand the perils of this world and are weaving crowns of gold for the world to come.

When we find ourselves on the bench, when we just can’t make sense of this season…
we can either sit the rest of the game out.
Or we can realize we are in the company of the greats. We are part of a team.
We can trust our Coach must be up to something. He’s done this before.
But get ready.
Cuz when He calls your name, it’s gonna blow your mind!

Flash Mob

I have never been a part of a flash mob. A few years ago, my favorite zumba instructor organized one. We practiced the moves in class. I knew the song. But when it came right down to it, I was too embarrassed to dance in front of our town. So I never showed.
I have no regrets. It’s one thing to shake in front of a class-full of fellow-self-conscious ladies. It’s a completely different story to unveil my moves to the community. (It actually sounds like the makings of a bad dream.)

This, on the other hand, is an incredible video that has evoked such a beautiful image.
The rest of this post may not make sense unless you watch it. I have not been able to do so without tears (so, grab some tissues if you too have fragile tear ducts 🙂

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,
Opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
Mortals, join the happy chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us,
Binding all within its span.

I just can’t help but picture a scene at the end of life as we know it. It can be difficult to believe in what we cannot see. It’s hard to wrap our minds around what is to come. We can seem so in-control of it all. Then the unthinkable happens. Sudden death of a loved one. Murders of the innocent. Exploitations of the helpless. Nature groans and quakes and explodes and falls and drifts. We are mortal.
All of this life will come to an end.
And the story would be a tragedy if that was all He wrote.
But. This is not all there is!

We have an invitation to be a part of something out of this world.
A Flash Mob more glorious than we can conceive.
The Bible teaches us that one day, people from every nation and tribe and language will assemble before the throne of our Creator. And they fell down face down before the throne and worshiped God. They said, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and forever. Amen!” (Revelation 7.11-12) 
We don’t have to be surprised when the music starts and the chorus sings. We are invited to join along! I just have to imagine that we will watch all these nations gather from across the world, spanning all of time, and we will say like that man in the crowd: Wow. 

But truth is, it’s not going to be like a lowercase flash mob. Where if you miss it, you still have a nice memory or captured a good video. The spectators will not receive a consolation prize. The smoke of their torment rises forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or night. (Revelation 15.11)

Friends, listen. I may be embarrassed to zumba in front of strangers. But I have no fear to share what I am convinced is true. Because the reality of hell is entirely too sobering. And the grace of our God has changed my life. Jesus came to show the way: I am the light of the world. If you follow Me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life (John 8.12).

If you haven’t heard, let me invite you to join the greatest Flash Mob of all time.
I promise, you won’t regret it.
He truly is the Giver of immortal gladness.

Another Day

Life is short.
We all see and know it. We feel it, but do we live like it?
In the unknown and noise and mistakes of today, I don’t want to lose the wonder that it truly is a gift. We don’t love today simply for the day itself, but for all that it holds.
All its hopes and invitations.
That aspiration laying ready to be awakened.
Those faces gathered around the dinner table.
The sunset that lingers to be applauded.
A sun-kissed flower that beckons to stop and savor.
That friendship tapping on your shoulder to be mended.
Those memories that wait to be created.
A “yes” to make a heart smile.
The Giver of this day who is honored when it is unwrapped and well-spent.

I’m as guilty as anyone of missing out on these moments.
But I believe, like Switchfoot: Every breath is a second chance.
Just because an evening turned chaos and all we could think about was how long until bedtime doesn’t mean the clock can’t reset. The sun rises and hands us opportunities and second chances. I pray and hope that the mistakes of our yesterdays have shaped the invitations of today to be even sweeter.

I don’t know where this journey will take us. But you are welcome to come along.
We can always find something to love along the way.

This is the day the LORD has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it!
Psalm 118.24