If Only You Just Believe – Divine Intervention
My mind is full of ideas so for the next however many days expect more than one post. At least one of these will focus on faith and the journey…especially over the next 20 days.
I have been told to believe in things my whole life. As a child it was bible stories, Santa and the Easter Bunny. As I child, I believed all those things. We grow up though, don’t we? We find Santa to be myth spun in today’s society to increase commercial gains and obtain obedience from children. (Mom, I know the drill – yes he exists, I am just saying that so people know I am an adult. I still believe in the spirit of Santa. – It is an inside joke, my Mom and sister will get it.) Still trying to figure out the connection of a chocolate toting bunny to the death and resurrection of my Savior. Truthfully, as I grew in age and knowledge, even the bible stories seemed questionable. My belief in God never stopped…I just thought he was out of the business of answering my calls and making miracles.
Before you tar and feather me, read on.
Somethings in life I have never questioned. I believed, no I had faith in them. I knew there was a God. There were experiences throughout my life that evidenced that for me. When I was 15 years old, I should have died. I took an antibiotic, went into anaphylactic shock and by the time we reached the hospital my blood pressure was 50 over 0, that is zero not the letter O. They were about to treat me as a drug overdose, because I was 15 and that was how I was presenting. A man named John, intervened. He was a fire fighter we knew from the Sunday School ministry. He told the medical staff, not this girl. This is not a drug overdose. I spent a few days in ICU another few on the pediatric floor, the following weekend I was riding a bike in Florida with a one of my dearest friends before heading to Disney World on the family vacation. Medicine helped, a praying doctor, a praying family, a praying fireman helped, but God is in the miracle business. As an adult, how did I forget that? I mean, I almost died. Not someone else…me!
Another certainty, I always knew if I called my parents or grandparents for help they would do everything they could for me. Do not misunderstand, they did not spoil me, buy me off etcetera, they were there to help move me out when my first marriage hit bottom. They held my hand when my children were sick or hurt. Despite all our differences, and let me tell you they were many, my family is always there for me. This is without question. I have faith that my family prays from me constantly. I am blessed to have my family.
My family first taught me to believe in God. Church was a family event. We were involved in an outreach ministry at the local fire department. (In fact my Mother and Grandparents have been doing that for over 50 years and still go every Sunday morning.) My Mother, Grandmother and I sang in a southern gospel trio. All of this was when I was a little girl through a teen. As a teen I wrote skits, performed with the church choir and drama teams. The night of my junior prom, I was in an Easter production called “Let All Heaven Rejoice”. Church was a huge part of my life. An intimate relationship with God was not. I thought it was, I was a church girl. What I believed was not just regurgitated rhetoric from my parents or the pulpit, my Mother made sure I had grit in what I believed. Somehow, despite all of that, the relationship was missing, or better yet, the intimacy was missing.
I got married at 18. My ex-husband and I attended church together and he was 7 years older than I. Within a year whatever faith I thought I had was non-existent. I felt I had been deceived by my husband, my Pastor and those elders I had looked up to for several years. I had gone from a young woman with a bright future and potential – to chattel. My own pastor condoning my husband being harsh in his reaction to my “defiance”. He told my husband in front of me that he would have to “train up his wife”. Mind you when we married he was 25 and I was 18. I had a car, he did not. I had a bank account, he did not. I balanced my checkbook, paid my bills and dealt with the insurance company, he did not. His mother handled all of that for him. I was blinded by wanting to get away from home and cursed with low self confidence that made me think he was my only opportunity to get married. It should come as no surprise that our marriage fell apart. There were abuses, but in truth we brought out the worst in one another. It is a shame, because we had been very good friends once.
The end of my first marriage introduced me to being a single mother of two small boys and left any faith I had in the church laying like shredded confetti on the floor. If you notice, it is not God I was fed up with. It was the church and the people therein. It was the hypocrisy. I have no desire to be fake, I am not good at it. However, I had been an equal hypocrite with the best of them for quite sometime. With no relationship of my own with God, be told to just believe in His word was like telling me the Titanic is perfectly safe and sea worthy. I did not have faith…not even half a mustard seed. (Have you seen a mustard seed? There is a reason that is a phenomenal description.)
Fortunately, God believes and loves us, even when we are out of His Grace. I have realized of late, that God didn’t let me down, lukewarm Christians let me down. People who pick and chose scripture like produce at the market, let me down. I let me down; after all, I am responsible for my relationship with God – no one else. Recently, the youth Pastor at our church spoke on being lukewarm. God detests lukewarm. Lukewarm is destructive. Lukewarm welcomes you to church on Sunday morning with a hug and doesn’t know you Monday in Wal-Mart. Revelation 3:15-16 states “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.'” Aside from being graphic and a little gross…that is extreme. God is very clear, you are in or you are out. Those who are halfway are dangerous. Do you get that…they are dangerous. I was a probation officer for several years, my husband worked in a close custody prison for nearly a decade, I understand dangerous. Dangerous bad, it is that simple.
I don’t want to be lukewarm. I don’t want to say to you that I am a Christian and all you can see is the devil on my shoulder. I am not a saint. I am working on a relationship that is between God and myself. I want a closer walk with Thee, to quote an old hymn. I want to be a reflection of God’s love, like my Grandmother.
My Granny Wheeler died at the age of 93. The most memorable things about her are her Faith in God and the love she had for others, especially her family. I have many happy memories of my Granny, but I never remember her without either her bible open, singing a hymn or talking about Jesus, her church or her family. I want that for myself. She had peace when the rest of us were in chaos, love when we felt contempt. It wasn’t an act, she had a relationship with God. Don’t get me wrong, that little southern lady could get fired up, but she was still filled with love even in her moments of aggravation. What a testament is that? When she passed, we were all broken because of the void it left in us, but we KNEW where she was. We KNOW she is rejoicing in heaven. I often describe my Granny as the closest person to a Saint I will ever know, I mean that. (I wonder if Jesus gave her an army bell when she got to heaven?)
So back to the idea of belief. Belief is the “acceptance that a statement is true or something exists”. (Google) When you think of it that way, belief is not that strong of a word. Saying I believe is just an acceptance, which can be impactful, but compared to faith, belief is weak. Faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”. I have complete faith in my family and though my faith is not yet great it is growing. That is all I need to start. Luke 17:6 “The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,” and it would obey you!”. In Matthew 17:20 he says faith of the same size can move mountains. I like the Luke version because my faith is small, I am working on trusting completely so mulberry trees are not as intimidating as mountains. Either is a miracle that can occur through faith…even tiny faith.
Of all the things I want to downsize and minimize in my life, this is not one of them. I want my faith, conviction and love to grow 100 fold. I believe my desire to minimalize the material in my life brings me closer to God because there is less to crowd Him out. I’ve stopped accusing God of turning his back on me. Finally got my facts straight on that aspect. Despite the journey ahead, I already feel increased peace and joy in my life. I know that is God working.
Some who read this may not believe or have faith in God. Open your heart and your mind. God loves you, no exceptions. (He hates sin, he does not hate us.) My God is love and if you received any other message…someone was not telling you the truth. As a former probation officer, I frequently made the statement, “consider the source”. If someone is not showing fruits of the Spirit, be careful what they say. Galations 5:22 states that the Holy Spirit produces certain fruits in a person; they are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Did your source display these attributes? I know many of those who caused me to turn my back on the church did not display these fruits. They were lukewarm. They were dangers to my soul.
I pray that I will never endanger another through being lukewarm in my dedication to God. I pray that I will grow in my relationship with God so that I display all of those “fruits” to everyone I meet. I pray that someone reads this and realizes their focus needs to be adjusted, we have to look to God, not to other people.
Do not just believe, have faith…even if it is tiny.
(Random thought to make you smile – think of how annoying a tiny pebble is in your shoe or worse those little plastic tag things on clothes that you sometimes miss. They aggravate and annoy. It is tiny, insignificant in the grand scheme of things but they can ruin your day at work or school…right. If you have even a small amount of faith in God, imagine how much that annoys the devil. Probably puts a serious twist in his pitchfork. The thought of that makes me smile.)
Fasting update: after yesterday, I decided to fast during lunch today. No, I did not skip lunch, trust me, I spent my time with God working in my one on one discipleship book and studying the word for our Create Change 21 day Fast. Eventually, scripture and prayer quieted the grumble of my stomach. Another thought about my first experience with fasting. I believe when we broke our fast last night, I appreciated my food more. Does that make sense. I was not starving, but I enjoyed it more. God bless and keep you.