Sunday, December 18, 2011

Faith Isn't An Easy Thing But Without It We Can't See God

Faith isn't an easy thing. You don't just wake up one day and have it. You can't borrow it from a friend. You can't read a book and walk away with it. Faith is a decision we have to make every time we need it. A decision to trust God in the dark. A decision to believe what he has promised in the face of overwhelming odds. A decision to hold on when the easiest thing is to let go or to let go when the easiest thing is to hold on. It's not easy at 3 AM when you wake up filled with anxiety to say to God "I choose to trust you" and then roll over and go back to sleep. Yet, it is that faith that allows us to see God.

Do you know why God loved David so much? It wasn't because he was perfect and it wasn't because David was always obedient; it was because David took God at his word. He trusted him. He loved him. Such trust would have developed when David was young and had to watch over the family sheep. As a young man he had to defend those sheep against lions and bears all on his own. David learned to have faith in God's love. The same faith he learned in those lonely times is the faith he had while he ran away from Saul and his army. We have rough days but few of us have had the kind of days David had to endure with a whole army out to kill him. Yet he wrote:

I cry out to God Most High, 
   to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. 
He sends from heaven and saves me, 
   rebuking those who hotly pursue me; 
   God sends his love and his faithfulness. (Psalm 57:2-3)

David never let go of that fact, that God sends his love and his faithfulness to us.  Faith is not easy and we are not born with it; it is a choice that we make to trust God. That is the thing we must learn, how to develop this faith. Watch what David does here. First he states his situation:

I am in the midst of lions; 
   I lie among ravenous beasts— 
men whose teeth are spears and arrows, 
   whose tongues are sharp swords. (v. 4)

Yet in the next breath he is in worship:

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;    let your glory be over all the earth. (v. 5)

From that moment of praise he goes back to his situation:

They spread a net for my feet— 
   I was bowed down in distress. 
They dug a pit in my path— 
   but they have fallen into it themselves. (v. 6)

Then David speaks to himself, to that inner place where we commune with God. Faith is not easy and it does not come naturally. We have to stir it in ourselves. We have to remind ourselves who our God is and what he has promised:

My heart is steadfast, O God, 
   my heart is steadfast; 
   I will sing and make music. 
Awake, my soul! 
   Awake, harp and lyre! 
   I will awaken the dawn. (vv. 7-8)

Now this is us, our responsibility, what we must do in order to stir that faith within ourselves. We have very poor memories so that even if God rescued us yesterday we will forget about it today and panic. The disciples saw Jesus feed the five thousand yet they were afraid when they forgot to bring some food along. We are just like that. God rescues us time and again yet every time is like the first time. We have to remind ourselves, stir up that faith, make the decision and trust.

We can't expect to ignore God for days on end and not have it effect our relationship. We can't expect to have nothing to do with him and then suddenly, during some crisis, we will have this great faith. Faith is not a magical thing but it is a relationship thing. The stronger our relationship with God the stronger our trust. The closer we are to him the greater dependence we have on him. Just like David watching those sheep we have to be developing a greater and deeper understanding of God's love and faithfulness. In this way when some of those storms hit our first response will be to say to God, "Even in this I trust you".

Don't wait until the darkness is upon you, start praising him with all your heart in the daylight so that you can still sing of his glory in the darkness. It is by faith we are able to see God even when the darkness closes in:

I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
   I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
   your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
   let your glory be over all the earth. (vv. 9-11)

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