Thursday, June 6, 2013

Faith or Fear

It began with pvc pipe, boards, and a saw.

Then came the sander, drill, and a conglomeration of wheels.

Next a test run, and . . . heat. . . for bending.

At last, a structure emerged, fit for the purpose for which it was made . . . the inspiration of the brain worked out with the hands.

When God began His plan for my life, I sometimes wonder what on earth He was thinking!  It seems like the raw materials at birth were not really adequate for the end He had in mind.  Yet, as I look at the process of anything we create, the end result is never the components in and of themselves, but rather compiled together in an orderly fashion to make a complete work of art.  And in the process, it does not always appear to be ordered.  Often there is a mistake here and there, even big gashes and slashes, but the artist learns to incorporate those scars into the final production.  Why would it be any different with God since He is our source and the ultimate Creator?

June marks two beginnings in my life.  My entrance into this world and, nine years later, the start of an abundant life found through faith in Jesus . . . my spiritual birth.  It was then, at Vacation Bible School, in a tiny church of the Pacific Northwest, that I got on the right track to begin a lifetime roller coaster of faith.  And what a ride it has been!

I've been teaching a group of 5th grade girls this week at our VBS.  One thing I love is that though the lessons I'm teaching are designed for 10 year olds, the Word of God is still the Word and powerful for impact on my own life.   The theme, Facing Fear Trusting God, is appropriate since fear has characterized much of my past.

When I first committed my life to Jesus, He began to give me victory in the tiniest ways.  To an outsider it may not have seemed like any big deal, but to me it was huge.  Since then, God has brought much bigger challenges into my life, but as I exercise faith, those fears don't loom so big.

My Dad once asked me if I still held those same fears of childhood and I had to say yes.  Though the fears are tamed, they are indeed, still there.  And if I allow them to, they still can overwhelm me.  But I've learned to use them as a launching pad rather than a squelching zap.  Just as the roller coaster gains momentum in those downward lunges of terror, so my life builds strength in each victory.

I once thought that to rely on God meant to pray really hard, that I should sit and do nothing because the work was all up to Him.  I finally came to realize that I could hide in the corner and pray the rest of my life, but until I took a step of faith to really trust God in risk, I would still be hanging out in that corner.  God is always ready to be active in our lives.  But to follow Him requires faith coupled with action which requires risk.

2 Chronicles 16:9 became my life verse.  It states that "the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the whole earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."  More than anything I wanted a heart that was completely devoted to God.  And over and over He has shown Himself to be my strong support.

As I recently listened to over 200 VBS children and staff sing their hearts out, one phrase of a song grips my soul.  The song speaks of changed hearts and then states, "Stir me up inside.  I want to feel Your Spirit moving."  It is that stirring that gets to me.

My life continues to be shaken up so that I might depend on God.  Pride is ruffled, restraint is required, and seeking the best for others is what must remain in the forefront.  God never lets me get comfortable, but always provides that stirring which produces the storm.  Yet, in the midst of adversity is where I find the Spirit of God most tangible and His grace most strong.

As I continue to plunge into fear, my faith muscles are worked resulting in a deepened relationship with God.  For this reason I seek to pursue the difficult path toward healing rather than bury hurt in grudges.  Sigh.  But I don't always choose the hard way.  Sometimes I coast, thinking abundant life is found there.  But a life of safe complacency never satisfies, because I am made for the adventure and rhythms of the track.

Someday I'm going to get off of this ride and when the clacking of wheels slows to a halt, I know that if I've exercised faith through obedience, I'll be glad for the journey.

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear; 
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
 2 Tim. 1:7

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