Our short life here
The other day, a few weeks ago now, I wrote at the top page of my journal, "I have always been afraid." That may seem like a strange thing to hear coming from someone who might look like she has life figured out. But I'll be honest. I don't. There are a few things I know with certainty, but many others that I don't. What I do know? That God is real. I know that with the certainty of faith in the invisible, absolutely powerful, radical, untamable, Creator. I know it at a heart level that cannot be explained until it is experienced. But it is founded in absolute truth. (Yes, I believe there is such a thing.)
So if I believe God is real, what do I fear? King David said, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1)
Really, if I truly believe that, there shouldn't be any fear left, right?
But that's not how I grew up. I think the fear began the year my great aunt died and I looked into her casket and imagined, "That could be my mom!" I was eleven.
Now I'd just begun to know Jesus when I was eight, and the fear of hell had left me in that moment of pure, honest surrender to Him, and has never returned. But this was different. I didn't know how to apply trust to everyday life. So I feared.
I feared loss of loved ones. I feared rejection. I feared the disapproval of people. I feared not being liked.
Fear has a way of controlling our actions, doesn't it? When we fear people, we are really saying that we don't trust God more. We don't love God more than the approval of others. God is not big enough in our eyes to conquer the little daily stuff. He might be big enough to conquer hell, but that is such an abstract concept to us because we've never seen it. So sure, we can believe Him for an eternity we really can't fathom.
But God is invisible. It's not like we can go out for coffee with Him and chat with Him over Starbucks. Not like we can a human friend. So trust comes through faith in what He's revealed to us in Scripture, and sometimes that can seem like a lot to trust.
But what if I did? What if what Jesus said is true, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” What does it really mean to believe in him?
It means a lot more than mental assent - acknowledging something is real. It means going so far as to lean into God with all you've got, to trust Him to be everything you need. To trust Him even when He is silent. To thank Him for His promises before they come true. Abraham believed God when He was promised a son, 25 years before that son was born.
To believe God is to love God--more than anything or anyone we can physically see.
And that's the only thing God requires of us to be part of His family. Believe the one whom He sent.
I'm not sure I've always done that so well. I grow impatient in my prayers. I want to see God at work right now! I tend to want God to work things out the way I envision they should be. But that's not faith. That's not trusting the unpredictable Author of my story to craft my short life's tale to bring Him glory and write it for my greatest good.
Why do I sometimes find it so hard to trust Him when I've believed in Him, even loved Him for so long?
Jennie Allen says in her book Anything, "There are always doubts. We doubt because God, while he gets louder, is still invisible, because of the people questioning your sanity and the difficulty of just following a wild invisible God into uncomfortable spaces. We doubt because of the risk, the cost, the abandonment of rights and comforts, the disapproval of people you really love, and then on top of it all, because you have now officially picked a fight with the devil. The devil is real, and nothing ticks him off more than people waking up from the numb stuper he has crafted to keep us harmless."
Fear keeps us numb. It keeps us too afraid to surrender everything. To tell God we are willing to do anything in our short life here. It keeps us from taking the risk of giving God our dreams, surrendering our hopes and plans and all we thought most important in this life. We forget that "heaven is coming and we are not there yet." (Jennie Allen, Anything)
In a recent blog post, Ann Voskamp said, "It takes courage to listen with our whole heart to the tick of God’s timing, rather than march to the loud beat of our fears."
But that's what we need to do if we really want to follow the real, true, living God. We have to believe Him. And that means we trust Him with every part of our lives. Because eternity is coming when faith will be made sight, and all of the waiting and worrying, all of the wanting our way, impatiently demanding, not trusting that He knew best all along, all of the fear and guilt and shame and unwillingness to surrender our pride for fear of what other people might think, or what we might discover if we really take that leap and trust Him, will take on a whole new meaning then.
We were made for eternity, and I think deep down, we all know that. And a God I believe in is asking me to truly trust everything about Him, even though I don't know it all. I can't predict Him. I can only know what He has revealed. And even then...He holds the right to mystery.
But isn't that the best kind of faith? The kind that requires more of us than we can even imagine?
I don't know how many more years God has planned for me on this planet called earth, but one thing I do know, it's a blink compared to eternity. And with what is left of my life here, I want to live in faith, not fear. God is worth that kind of trust. How do I know that? Because I've experienced Him. Because I believe Him.
I hope you do too!