Degrees of Faith

“‘If you can’? said Jesus. Everything is possible for one who believes.

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Mark 9:23-24

 

Our Interim Associate Pastor preached a beautiful sermon about “Walking with God.”  She talked about how the Holy Spirit works in your life.  You just have to be willing to listen and follow His guidance.

 

Well, that was Sunday.  Then on Monday I read a few blogs that guided me in the same general direction.  Then, at a meeting with the church’s pastoral staff on Tuesday, again the subject came up.  I had to admit that since I have been retired, I have not had the distraction of working hard to earn a paycheck.  I could not blame my not walking with God and not listening for His voice on being too busy.  Then again, I work as many hours in ‘retirement’, maybe more.  Some of that work time is letting go, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me.  If anyone has tried to figure out my schedule and my theme on these posts, they will get frustrated.  When I am finished with the “Where is the Love?” series, even Wednesday may become whatever is in the queue.  Then, you may ask what is in the queue.  The answer to that is whatever direction I am being led.  That’s the fun part.  When you listen to God, He really does answer, and He has a lot to say.  It wasn’t always that way.  God may have been willing to talk, but I wasn’t always ready to listen.

 

When people give their testimonies regarding their salvation story, most include the life before and the life after.  They try to describe the change, but they fall short.  It is one of those things that has to be experienced.  The experience will not happen unless you accept Jesus without any reservations.  It is an “All In” moment.  Then, you will understand.  But many people who call themselves Christians have never experienced that moment.

 

What I have recently discovered about “Walking with God” is that this extra step in faith is not a very travelled path among those who have experienced the “All In” moment.  In essence, it is another “All In” moment, but most people get caught up in the earthly life, the family responsibilities, the job responsibilities, and sadly the church responsibilities.

 

They get too busy to spend time with God.

 

I once heard a pastor talk about making appointments with family.  That gives you the excuse of saying “No” when someone has one more thing that they want you to do.  Oddly enough, he didn’t preach on making appointments with God.

 

That brings me to the scripture reference.  I believe that there are degrees of faith (as opposed to Faith).  Some might argue that God gives us the gift of faith (Eph. 2:8), but ‘faith’ like any muscle group in the body needs exercise.  I could probably buy that explanation, too.  C. S. Lewis uses the example of having faith in a cord or rope.  It is one thing to have faith that the cord will hold the box lid shut when you tie it up with a cord.  It is a different level of faith to tie the rope around your waste and have someone lift you up the side of a cliff.  Just as God points out on the negative side what sin needs to be removed from your life, God points out on the positive side what areas of our lives can be improved with increased faith.  It becomes a combination of those two things that is the sanctification of each believer.

 

For many of those who have recently lost their belongings in the recent hurricanes, they are at a crossroads.  Do they blame God or do they place faith in God to see them through?  Do they praise God for living through it or do they shout in anger that they have lost everything?  Some of the confusion and stress of the moment is part of the grieving process, but where they end their journey will depend on their faith and in whom or what they rest their faith.

 

I will use my recent experience in growing faith.  I started this blog with about twenty essays in hand.  I also had some Sunday school material that I needed to edit.  (Some of which is being reviewed by others now, offline.  Hopefully, it will be on-line in late winter.)  I have now published over 50 posts, and the odd thing is that as I pray more, I get more ideas.  I am busier than I have been in a long time.  Do I get writer’s block?  Yes, but that is when I pray more, and God answers that prayer.  Is it always God that answers?  Not always.  I may get an idea for a blog and spend four hours writing it, editing it, and cherishing it.  I then let it sit for a few days.  During those days, a voice keeps nagging me not to post the cherished essay.  After a couple of days of this nagging thought in my head, I read the essay again.  My eyes are opened to my wrong thinking.  How do I know that it is wrong thing?  I have read the Bible many times.  When I write something and let it simmer, I hear scripture in my head.  “Wow!  Jesus said something that disagrees with my point.  Could I be off base?”  I had been tempted to write something that may have been interpreted the wrong way.  God doesn’t tempt.  So, while I wrote something that was either poorly expressed or down-and-dirty wrong, God took me closer down the road, letting me discover my mistakes while pointing to a better way.  Whether I realized and eliminated sin in my life or I expressed accurately what God was doing within my life, I grew closer to God either way.  It’s just that some of those bad articles will never be posted, or they will be edited drastically.

 

To know that you are walking with God, you need to spend time in the scriptures every day.

 

Yes, I believe.  I also believe that when I am walking with God tomorrow, next week, or next year, God is going to reveal something exciting.  He can reveal those exciting things to you, too.  But you have to be willing to hold God by the hand, and take the first step.  You have to start in faith with the same type of faith exhibited by the boy’s father – I believe, but forgive me for my unbelief.  If Jesus is in your heart, when you go around the first bend in the path of walking with God, He will show you just a little about future excitements.  You can’t handle the whole package all at once.  It is just too wonderful, and your heart will turn somersaults when you realize that God loves you even when you aren’t worthy of that love (Romans 5:8).

 

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