Search This Blog

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Loving God = Doing Hard Things

I've been noticing across the past two years (well across the entirety of my life) that God never answers my prayers in an expected way. I could have hoped for some flashy miracle where holy fire and a spotlight from heaven opens my eyes up to the perfect job, the perfect house, grants me thousands of dollars or tells me immediately that 'bam: that's the woman you're going to marry.' But oddly enough none of these things have happened for me. Sure, I'm proof that these do happen to some people. For instance Dad saw a vision of Christ that led him to salvation and also heard directly from God that Mum was going to be his wife. But I myself have seen God play a lot more practical jokes...

When I say practical jokes, I mean that God seems to love testing my faith and providing answers to prayer that are obviously what I was praying about, but are answers in ways I didn't expect. For instance when we prayed for the right house as a family we found the one that fit all the criteria but we had to then take action and go to auction - it didn't fall into our laps. We received our family dog Romey thanks to prayer however but even at the time I thought it was an amusing thing to pray (that we would get a free dog) and I guess God wanted to show us all that no prayer is too minor for him to answer. God provided the money to get me to the USA in a ridiculously weird last minute moment that also granted me the income I've needed for the past two years of university.

Even more recently He has brought people into my life in ways that I would never have imagined at the start of the year. I can't really describe just how powerful and odd this is as an answer to prayer because I am always praying for new connections and relationships (and there have been specific prayers about that also) but it has been so very necessary. Necessary as God calls me to become a leader for him (as we all are called for). I may not have seen God raise people from the dead in front of me or turn water into wine but I believe because in his own difficult enigmatic way he has shown me the reality of his presence in so many small and difficult things.

It's not about religion to me, though some might call Christianity a religion. Because to me religion is works without faith and while faith without works might be dead, works without faith means just as little. The two must go hand in hand. Faith without works is speculative belief. Works without faith is blind routine.

It's very easy to be theoretical about something or to dream about it from a distance. Raised in a Christian household I saw that myself firsthand that it was easy for about seven years to bow my head and follow the rules - but it was only when God tapped me on the shoulder (at around that age of seven) and let me know just what I would miss out on (eternally being with him), that I realised I wanted to surrender my life to his will. And from that moment I saw a lot of God's provision and guidance without being fully aware of it - however it was only as I became more self dependent aside from my parents that God truly began to teach me about active faith.

It's easy to sit in services and repeat what other people provide to you. It's easy to 'run' a lifegroup from set materials. You know what's hard? Hearing from God to have peace when you know that you need 500 dollars in two weeks and still have no job that you have been praying and seeking. But he is faithful and he did provide when I did not give up.

In short I'm learning that God is calling us all, not to take the easy route, but to take the path less traveled by that makes all the difference (sorry Robert Frost). As Matthew 7:14 points out (NIV) "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." The pressures of life and the challenges we all face cause our faith - or rather the activity of our faith - to become a difficult thing. But God is wanting us to do hard things, because only in doing hard things can we become true champions.

One of my favourite verses is found in Galatians 6:9-10: "9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

This verse with how it says to not become weary in doing good is always a challenge to me, but I believe God in his timing is revealing new elements of different scriptures to my eyes. This scripture is one that encourages me in perseverance alongside 2 Corinthians 12:9 "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 

God wants us all to see in his word that to live by faith and not by sight is difficult, but that his power can help us overcome such difficulty. I can't explain it but there is a peace that comes in the midst of trials when you walk with God, a peace that surpasses all understanding. And when you persevere that leads to reaping a harvest.

As James 1:2-4 states: "2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything"

This has been one of the most challenging years I have faced on an emotional level. There has been so much joy (daytrips, friends, family celebrations), so much pain (funerals, hospital visits, sicknesses) and some disappointment linked to university. But despite all that God is teaching me about who I am through who he is and that truly makes all the difference. You see, God might not always give me what I want and how I want it: but he will give me what I need and what is necessary in the perfect time.
I've seen plenty of people ask me why I'm so mature for my age as I've met them which always surprises me. The only answer is that my maturity is not found in my age or who I am as a person (it would be nice if it were) but in trusting in God first and foremost. As Galatians 3:28 points out "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Similarly age has no limitation in God's kingdom - the only limit, the only rule in a sense, is to follow Christ as Lord. That might mean doing hard things as we act out our faith. It might mean being ridiculed and mocked for having 'bizarre' or 'unpopular' beliefs. But just because something isn't popular doesn't mean it isn't true. And I know deep down that this is truth and I want to 'do hard things' more and more as I work out my salvation in faith.