Thursday, October 28, 2010

Have a little faith

I read this Psalm yesterday.

"How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron's beard,
down upon the collar of his robes.
Is is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing
even life forevermore."
Psalm 133

In church and BSF, there's been a lot of discussion about faith and trust. I think that everybody wants to put their trust in something- either in their spouse or their best friends or their family. Or their church or their eduction, the amount of time they spend studying the Bible or reading books. Or their political party or their ability to be a watch-dog on their party's behalf. Or their traditions and heritage. Or their job or their ability to be creative or their talent or wit or intelligence. Or the person who promised them something or the money that they have so diligently saved or the plans they have so carefully made.

Apparently none of that impresses God. With Him, faith and trust are relatively simple- trust in Him alone. Meaning that, everything- money, emotions, plans, frustrations, relationships, work, self-esteem, opinions, exhaustion, children, education, vacation, rest, and political affiliations are left up to Him. He says that faith is "being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)

We had a discussion last night at small group about what exactly that hope could be in. We agreed that it couldn't be for the job that you want. And it can't be for the physical healing that you desire. It's also no good for the hope to be in your family members or your ability to be a good mom or dad or daughter or sister or husband or wife. You shouldn't hope for more money or the ability to save it better or have more opportunities to give it away. And it's no good to hope for happier days or more stable emotions or for everyone to slap you on the back and tell you, "hey, you're really awesome, did you know that?" But those are the kinds of things we're waiting for, aren't we? I know that I am. Some days I feel like I literally cannot go on without affirmation, recognition, provision.

But that's not what God wants. That's not the kind of faith that Hebrews 11 is talking about. So what is that faith- what does God want from us when He says that without faith it's impossible to please Him? (Hebrews 11:6) It's faith in what we do not see. And what don't we see? Him. We don't see Jehovah. Because if we did, we would die. He's invisible which drives some of us to doubt and some of us to wonder and some of us almost completely bonkers. But that's what He wants- He wants us to put our faith in the Lord our God- the Mighty One, who we cannot see.

This is NOT easy. I think that we think it's easy sometimes, because we're used to putting our faith into the good things that He has provided for us or the moral superiority we feel because we have "believed in Him" but when you really dig into what the guys and gals in Hebrews 11 were doing you realize that blessings and feelings of moral superiority have nothing to do with real faith. They were all, "looking for a country of their own," and, news flash, the country was NOT America. Nor was it Israel. Nor was it somewhere in Africa where they could build wells and feed hungry children and feel really darn good about themselves. They were looking for the heavenly city. They never felt satisfied here.. not with the blessings God provided and not with themselves and their good works. That's what it means to live by faith. It means to realize that this is NOT my home, these are NOT my people, this place is NOT operating under the rules that will be in place in the eternal kingdom. And somehow enduring this experience while giving glory to GOD because there is more to come- much, much, much more to come.

How does that tie into Psalm 133? Because those living by faith find themselves living on this planet as aliens, with hearts knitted together with God's Spirit, struggling, begging, hoping, expecting what will only come completely in an age without time. Because God has written eternity into our hearts, and we cannot help but long for the unity, the peace, the righteousness that He wrote there. And that's where I find myself today. Not in a peace-filled kingdom, but a world riddled with strife and division.

Unity is not something we acquire for ourselves. Nor is it something that we can attain by volunteering more or attending more Bible studies or saving more pennies so that we can sponsor and adopt and feed more orphans. Listen, I am not against those things, I am very much for those things. I am for healing, helping, restoring- but not because of me- because it's what He does. And we cannot really do what He does unless He is the one that pours the oil upon us. Everything else is fake.
Do you see that in Psalm 133? The oil is poured out. It is an anointing that comes from His Hand alone, not our will or our desire to do good or help people who need help. It's HIS. HIS ALONE and NO ONE deserves glory other than Him.

I'm writing this because I'm frustrated. Because I'm an alien living on the grace He gives, waiting for the peaceful reign to come, waiting for the scoffers to be humbled, waiting for the truth to be told, waiting for repentance, waiting for every knee to bow and every tongue to stop singing their own praises or their political parties praises or their native country's praises or their family's praises or their hard work's praises or their children's praises or their achievement's praises or their stuff's praises but to sing His praises.

But I have no right to be frustrated. Why should I? It's not my plan. It's not my timing. I am just along for the ride. I'm on His team, a miniscule mark amongst the great cloud of witnesses waiting for Him to avenge their blood. I am learning to bide time. I am learning to trust in a time frame that is not of this world. Should I expect protection, vindication, unity, purity and peace in this life? Not necessarily. He is able. But He is not forcing Himself upon anyone. He gives us the option out- though that option leads to separation, division and ultimately death. But faith means believing that everything in this life is moving along the course that leads us to the next one. There- and only there- I can have expectations for perfection- for unity, for sinlessness for vindication for fellowship for peace for joy for justice.

Until then, frustration needs to subside, faith and prayer need to increase and I need to stop looking to anything or anyone else for help.

We trust in the name of the Lord our God. Our faith is in You all day long.

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