The Lord is teaching me some really awesome things right now, in some really cool ways. Some may call them coincidences; I call them Faith Lifts. (Say that out loud and you sound like Daffy Duck.) God has given tangible responses to my prayers lately, as well as deeply moving spiritual assurances that He’s got His eye on me. I’m very aware of His provision in my life right now, more than ever before.
Faith is powerful stuff. It’s how I sit in a chair I’ve not tested, believing it will hold me up or fly in an airplane I have no idea how to operate. Faith is the confidence that what we hope will happen is actually going to happen (Heb. 11:1). It’s knowing I’ll spend eternity in heaven with The Father, through my faith in Jesus Christ, His blood and His resurrection. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
In the book, “Kingdom Woman,” Tony Evans writes, “The reason why so many prayers go unanswered is simply because people are not willing to give God all they have. They are not willing to give the very thing that they are searching for and in need of.”
What I’ve given God hasn’t been much, when considered in the grand scheme of eternity. I’ve not had to truly suffer or sacrifice like those we read of in His Word, or even like Believers around the world. But, I have faithfully decided to give Him my best, even when it’s not convenient. Even when it’s scary. Even when the world around me says it’s the wrong thing to do.
“Faith is a decision.” ~Chrystal Evans Hurst, Kingdom Woman
Sticking with the decision to have faith isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it’s The Hardest Thing to do. And the more I realize this, the more The Lord shows me I’m capable of handling it. It’s been a gradual process, but He is slowly removing layers of my heart that I never knew were between us. My “need” for material things, security and stability–He’s shown me all I really need is Him. He keeps showing me this phrase in various formats, and I’m starting to find it humorous…
“Live one day at a time.” ~Matthew 6:34
Really, Lord? One day at a time, in this millennium? We have computers and smart phones and tablets, all capable of synching our calendars and to-do lists through the next 10 years, and you’re telling me to “live one day at a time”? How is this possible?
“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” ~Matthew 19:26
But I have a household to run; things to do, places to go, people to see. Important stuff to accomplish!
“Don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them.”
Okay, I’ll live by faith, believing that You will pull it all together, since You’re God and everything. But, how do I know You won’t forget about me?
“Your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and He will give them to you if you give Him First Place in your life and live as He wants you to.”
This has been an actual conversation I’ve had with the Lord, maybe not word-for-word, but you get the drift. He’s shown me time and again that He is faithful, especially when I’m acting on my faith that He is faithful! Kinda confusing, I know. When I live my life, when I act on my faith, He will always come through for me. Always. When I purposely make choices that create opportunities for Him to come through for me, He always does. When I have no safety net, no back-up plan, no other option, He Is My Hope, My Deliverer. More trustworthy than a bank, more reliable than the government, more efficient than a good physician. He Is God!
Example. Recently, our financial situation was probably the most dire it’s ever been in our 14+ years of marriage, mostly due to the fact that I left my career 3 years ago to pursue full-time motherhood. (THAT is another story in itself.) So, The Hubs graciously worked a third job to pick up enough cash for Christmas gifts. (That is also another story in itself.) Our income came in spurts. Daily spurts. Could the Lord BE more literal with His “one day at a time” message (she says like Chandler Bing)? I’m accustomed to making out our meal menu and shopping for groceries for at least a full week at a time, sometimes two weeks at a time. I used to shop once a month, thus the gradual removal of that layer. I felt I HAD to shop this way or life as we knew it would fall apart. I get into a routine and I like it. I find comfort in having a plan, especially when it pertains to food.
For the entire month of December, I was only able to shop when we had the money. Weekly menus turned into 2-3 day needs. My shopping list only included what I could purchase with $50. That’s it. I bought only what we need to make it through the day, until the next influx of money when I could shop again.
My plan-ahead brain was frazzled by this, so I prayed about it. Every time I did, He whispered gently in my ear…”Live one day at a time, Jessie.”
“Look at the birds! They don’t worry about what to eat—they don’t need to sow or reap or store up food—for your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to Him than they are. Will all your worries add a single moment to your life?”
And Christmas gifts? Psh. I was, without a doubt, one of those last minute shoppers, scurrying around right up to Christmas day–something I usually avoid like the plague. Yet, I had faith that it would all work out. No fretting or pacing; I just waited for it all to come together. I chose to believe the money would come, just in time to purchase gifts. And guess what? It did. We even had some awesome hand-me-downs passed our way that served as great gifts from Santa. I’ve learned that sometimes The Lord provides us with people, not money, to meet our needs.
So what about those Faith Lifts I’ve recently had? Let’s just say I’m being spoiled in the midst of all the lack, and it’s The Lord who’s doing the spoiling. First, there’s the obvious—the washing machine I recently wrote about in Maybe Forrest Gump Was Right? Huge, I know.
Then, there’s all the butter. Literally, butter. I needed stick butter and spreadable butter a couple of weeks ago, but could only afford to get one kind. I went with the stick because I needed it for baking; the spreadable would have to wait another week. Not the end of the world, but a decision I had to make nonetheless. The next evening, we had our weekly Bible study group over for the usual; dinner, fellowship and study. One precious friend brought homemade dough and baked fresh rolls for us. For. The. Love. And what did she bring to slather on top? Spreadable butter, the exact kind I was going to buy the day before. And what did she say about this butter? “You keep it. I have another at home.” Seriously?
Now here’s buttery story number 2. While at the grocery store last week, I walked past a huge display of scented wax cubes. Life’s short, so I stopped to smell the wax, knowing I only had my 50 trusty dollars to get all that was on my meticulously devised list. These $2 wax cubes would just have to wait. Oh, but they smelled so good; one in particular, some kind of buttered-something-or-other. Sigh… I pushed the cart on past. The next evening, Bible study group. Afterward, as I was turning lights out for bed, I realized someone had left a gift sack under our Christmas tree. I asked our daughter if she knew who it was from or for, and she said someone had left it for me. I opened it and what did I find? A huge Buttered Rum candle from Bath and Body Works. What?!
Coincidence, or have I’ve proved my point? God is into the details and little things in our lives, all the way down to butter, people. He feeds the birds; ALL of the birds! He clothes the flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow (Matt. 6:28-30). Even amidst all the crazy chaos going on in the world, He can and will supply the needs of those who “give Him First Place in [their] life and live as He wants [them] to.” (Matt. 6:32)
“Even though your faith may be small, let your actions be big. Step out and praise God in spite of the trial you may be facing. Step out and stand on God’s Word, even when it might not make sense to the people around you. More than that, step out in faith and offer help to others who might be struggling similarly to you. Choose to honor God by giving Him something that is near and dear to you. Whether you sacrifice your own time, energy, or a personal want, nothing is wasted when you commit it to serving Him.”
~Tony Evans, Kingdom Woman
Over the past 5 years, our family has chosen to step out and act on our faith. Okay, chosen may be the wrong word. Our family has been nudged into stepping out and acting on our faith. Due to finances, we sold our newly constructed home and moved into an older, smaller farm house in a new town. I quit my job of 10+ years to stay home and be Momma. We left the comfort of “volunteering” in our home church to pursue a ministry elsewhere. We’ve faithfully opened our home for Bible Study and served a meal every Tuesday night for the past 8 years to whoever is willing to come—all are welcome. This is not to say we’re perfect; it is to prove that I’m living what I say. I’m The Guinea Pig or The Lab Rat, whichever you prefer. I cannot encourage you to act on your faith if I’m not willing to do the same. Sheesh, this blog is a way I’m acting on my faith. I felt the Lord leading me to do it, and even though I thought the idea was ludicrous, I did it anyway. Scared? Yes. Vulnerable? Yes. But I know that when I act, so does He. We serve a God who never asks something of us that He Himself has not already done.
“The power of faith is not just that God will answer your prayer; the power of faith in action is that God will give back to you ‘far more abundantly than all we ask or think’ (Eph. 3:20).” ~Tony Evans
I have sought to give God all of me–imperfect as I am–but sincerely, believing He will give the return on my investment in Him. My faith has grown so that I seek to actively DO things that I believe He desires, not just what keeps me comfortable or makes me happy. I’ve given up things I thought I deserved or earned, stuff I thought I needed to be content, conveniences I thought necessary to be comfortable.
Now, this is not to say that I’m like Mother Teresa or something; by no means. But over the past little while, my attitude has changed. It started when I stepped out in faith and showed Jesus I was serious about obeying Him. He then wooed me and proved His love to me in so many ways. I got to know Him better, spent more time with Him. So naturally, just like in any serious relationship, I find myself wanting to do things that bring a smile to His face and warmth to His heart. I no longer want to just say I love Him; I want to show Him I do. No more legalistic list-checking in order to meet God’s supposed expectations; I have truly fallen madly in love with Jesus. Kinda like Buddy Elf, my heart shouts, “I’m in love! I’m in love! And I don’t care who knows it!”
“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
Here’s the hope I know: If The Lord can change my selfish attitude and self-serving heart, He can change anyone’s. I really don’t know who’s reading this or what the Lord is asking you to act on, but I do know this: He’s asking you to ACT. Get out of your comfort zone. Move to where you’re unsure of what to expect, where there is no plan, and just see what He does for you. Maybe He’s asking you to quit your job and focus on your family? Start a ministry? Follow through on a commitment you made? I don’t know, but I’m praying the Holy Spirit reveals whatever “it” is to your heart in this moment. Ask Him and He will gladly tell you. Then, after you act, expect to see Him respond. Look for the Faith Lift. Then, share your story. Tell others about how faithful He is. Tell them about His love and concern for them, all the way down to the butter in their fridge. He delivers.