There are many instances in the Bible where God makes it clear that He is well acquainted with the heart of humanity. In His choosing of David over all of his other brothers. In His acceptance of Abel’s gift over Cain’s. God is no respecter of persons and He makes it abundantly clear that living a life of honorable service to Him is primarily a heart issue. With this understanding of the God who created the universe, who exists outside of time, and has all power in His being; Shouldn’t we be able to trust Him at His word?
The short answer is yes. However, our thoughts and behavior often show otherwise, complicating what God originally intended to be a simple solution to address our needs. You may be familiar with the quotable found on many t-shirts, mugs, and other collectable items: “Keep Calm and…” The end of that statement has an extensive list of suggested things, people, and places to put your faith in. Yet, every believer is aware, to some degree, that the only true source of stability that we can put our trust in is God. This year, 2020, has quite rudely interrupted the norms that humanity has created for ourselves and made it abundantly clear that many of the things, people, and places we have put our faith in are not able to hold us up when life takes an unexpected turn.
In case you missed it, the things, people, and places that you invest your time, energy, and resources into represent what you prioritize as well as what you put your faith in. Faith and trust are two sides of the same coin. Where one is the other will be also. While you can say that you have trust in someone, something, or someplace, it’s not really evident that you mean what you say until you act it out. This is the same for having faith in God, trusting that a chair will hold you up once you sit down, and travelling to an intended destination. Finding it much easier to have faith that a chair will hold you up than trusting God to be exactly who He says that He is understandable but not an excuse.
In her devotional “Believing Bigger,” Marshawn Evans Daniels states, “Becoming comfortable with mystery is one of the ways we grow our faith.” Right before she makes that statement she identifies struggles that believers may be experiencing in their walk with God (i.e. questioning their existence/purpose). Ultimately, getting “comfortable with mystery” requires us to embrace the truth that walking with God involves many unknown details. If we knew everything, we would not need God. It is this dependence on God that allows us to embrace the unknown places where He is trying to take us and the unseen things that He is doing beneath the surface. To revisit one of the examples above, it takes some faith to travel any distance to a place that we expect to still exist once we arrive. No amount of Google searches or reading reviews can prepare us enough to know everything about a place until we go and experience it for ourselves. Our experience is unique to us. It can be shared with others, to some extent, but can only fully belong to us. This is what having an intimate relationship with God is like.
Now, to know how relationship with God works is one thing and to know and understand God is another thing entirely. Many believers find their way along the journey of the Christian faith and pull over, or take an exit to a rest stop, forsaking the remainder of the journey. Be careful not to become comfortable in places that are only meant to be temporary. Learning about God is not the same as knowing God for yourself. Intimate relationship with God while walking in purpose, on this side of eternity in heaven, is the goal. Anything less than that is stopping short of the intended destination. Once you understand that, you are then ready to absorb and apply this next important lesson.
Do not limit God to what you can see or understand, which includes signs and wonders. What God shows us is only a piece of the greater puzzle. It’s often a glimpse He gives to keep us motivated to continue walking with Him. It’s His way of reassuring us that He is remaining true to His word. It can also be a warning for us to let go of a particular narrative we have decided on. Ms. Evans Daniels also wrote, “Far too many of our choices are decided but not truly directed.” This is so true that it hurts, literally and figuratively. Many of us have experienced God’s hand move in our lives either in affirmative ways or in disciplinary ways. Either way, it is a method God uses to provide us with divine insight to shape our perspective according to His will. Now, it must be said that, while God does show Himself in these course-corrective ways, He will not force us to make the decision to be obedient.
The real work of God is done in the unseen and often unknown places in our lives. When we submit ourselves as living sacrifices to God, we are giving Him our full permission to cleanse us from the inside out. Many times, along the journey, we remain unaware of how we have been changed and made new internally, until we begin to take notice of the way we now live our lives (i.e. changes in our desire to do or entertain certain things). This heart-work is painstaking and takes times to unfold before the fruit can be seen in our lives. With that understanding, it is no wonder why God instructs us to forgive others as He has forgiven us. Many people are walking around with healing heart-work in progress, which means that they are in the process of breaking free from sin’s power over them. That process is not simple, easy, or even enjoyable at times. It’s intense, powerful, and transformative from the inside-out. The only way to behave in accordance with God’s command to love Him, ourselves, and others is to invite Him in so He can begin, or continue, the transformative work that only His power can accomplish. With our acceptance of the gift that is His presence in our hearts, we can then be enabled to face every unknown with full confidence in the God who does His best work in the unseen places.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”– James 1:17 NIV –
Devotional Quoted in Post: “Believing Bigger” by Marshawn Evans Daniels (on YouVersion app) & is excerpted from her book, “100 Days to Believing Bigger.”
Song Selections: “Man of Your Word” and “Refiner” by Maverick City Music and “Changed” by Geoffrey Golden