Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Faith. Trust. How?

For once I'm not questioning "Why" but "How." That's new. For me. It's always been "Why?" Why, why why? But now it's How?

How? That was our question at Thursday night Bible meeting. How does God fill us? How do we know without a shadow of a doubt that God finds us the most beautiful, the most special thing in the world. How do we find our confidence and self-worth through him? How?

I'm an introvert and natural internal processor. It's natural for me to work through things internally, so allow me a moment to process (or think) "out loud" here. Maybe we're focused too much on the How. The How (that word is starting to look funnier and funnier the more I read it) isn't the point. The point is faith - believing that "It" is and eventually we will not only know it with our minds but with our hearts as well. Eventually, with a little faith, we won't need to feel God's love and acceptance and adoring eye to know that it's there.

There is a song by J.J. Heller (thank you, God, for J.J. Heller!) called "When You Come Back for Me." The lyrics are:

I don't know how to follow you without losing my way
Jesus, come and take me by the hand
And I don't know how to trust that you will do the things you say
Spirit, teach me how to understand
That your love can heal the wreckage of my soul
The beauty of your light shining in me
I don't know when you'll take me home to paradise with you
The day when I will finally be free
Oh the day when you come back for me.

When I'm lost in the How, and I don't know what to pray, what to say to my Father, I pray this song. The lyrics are so honest and dead-on target. It's a wonderful place to start.

Moving on there's an old (or older) hymn that says, "Let's forget about ourselves and magnify his name and worship him." Perhaps we should forget about how we don't get it (the disciples didn't get it either, more on that in a moment), forget how we don't understand and instead say, "Father, I'm just going to praise you. I don't get it, but I'm going to praise you anyway." Perhaps we should be focusing on Who God is instead of How he is.

As I just mentioned, the disciples/apostles - Jesus' closest circle - didn't tend to get it either. In Matthew 14:13-20, Jesus is out in a remote area preaching. He has compassion on the crowds and wants to feed them. He asks the disciples what's available, and they respond five loaves of bread and two fish, but that certainly isn't enough to feed a crowd of 5,000. Then Jesus performs a miracle - he breaks the bread and gives thanks, and as the disciples pass the food around to the crowd, the tiny meal expands to fill up all 5,000 and create enough leftovers for a small army. Now let's go to one chapter later in Matthew 15:29-37. Again Jesus is speaking to a crowd (of 4,000 this time) in a remote area and wants to feed them; the disciples respond: "Where can we get enough bread in such a remote place to feed such a crowd" (v33 NIV)? Amazing to me that the Bible doesn't then say "Jesus rolled his eyes" or "Jesus let out a great sigh." The Bible says Jesus performed the same miracle. The wording of the two passages is even similar. So, the disciples didn't get it, and they were right there with Jesus! The point wasn't how Jesus performed a miracle - twice - but that he did perform it; the point isn't how is Jesus so divine but that he is divine.

God (Father, Son - Jesus, Holy Spirit) is Divine. First we must learn who God is by reading his Word (the Bible), asking him to reveal himself to us and discussing with other followers who God is. Then we must try to emulate (be like) him. The How won't matter then. We may never know the How. Something else important to remember: we will fail. How absolutely terrifying.

But not to worry, we'll still belong to God as his treasure. In Matthew 16:13-20, Peter names Jesus for who he is - the Christ or the Messiah, the living Son of God - and Jesus tells Peter that he will be the rock (Peter means "rock") on which Christ Jesus will build his church and the gates of Hades/Hell will not overcome it. Heck yeah, I'll take that job. Awesome. But keep going in chapter 16. Jesus explains to his disciples that very soon he will suffer and die, and Peter (the rock on which Jesus will build his church) rebukes the Living Son of God saying this will never happen to him. How does Jesus respond in verse 23? He says to Peter (the rock on which Jesus will build his church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it): "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns." Ummm....

Another line from J.J. Heller: "Faith means holding onto You / Grace means You're holding me too" ("Painted Red"). Thinking out loud, I'm thinking the How isn't as important as Who. Once we start focusing on the Who and begin to participate in his nature knowing God is I AM, eventually our hearts will know this truth as well. And then we'll fail again and again, but that's why there's grace.

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