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Friday, December 13, 2013

Now faith is...

For faith to really "work" in our lives, we first have to believe that God IS and that he is the one who rewards those who seek him.  Understanding that God "is" becomes our starting place - like the blocks a runner places his feet in just before the starter gun is fired.  He postures in the crouched position, ready at a moment's notice to take off in the direction of the track set out before him.  Seekers know one thing - they are on a mission to find something.  Without a purpose (a mission) we run aimlessly.  To truly develop depth in our faith, we have to develop depth in our relationship with the one who "is" - "is" the creator of all things, "is" all knowing, "is" always present, "is" all powerful, "is" above all things.  Seekers are both "on the ready" and "committed to the run".  They are "on mission".  God asks us to come into the place of living beyond our doubts.  The runner doesn't put his feet in the blocks just because he can run - he believes he can win!  To live beyond doubt, we must come to know - to know who we are in the eyes of Jesus, to know what he sees as the purpose of our existence, and to know we only run well when we are "inside" the purpose he has for our lives.

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.  By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.  (Hebrews 11:1-3 MSG)

Runners have a commitment to finish the run - stretching their bodies to capacity and sometimes beyond.  It isn't the coveted first prize trophy which motivates them, but finishing the race.  If God has a purpose for our lives, then it makes no difference what we go through to see that purpose fulfilled. When we are committed to the "race", we run without ceasing.  When we understand our purpose, we are also able to stand up in the face of oppression.  Runners understand the times when they have to not give into the pressures to quit.  They get to the place they run "beyond" the oppressing forces working against them such as terrain, weather, and their own fatigue. Why?  They are finishers!

Seekers know there is a purpose in their seeking - to find God on more than a superficial plane, knowing him inside and out, and allowing him to know them inside and out.  We all need to seek so as to encounter God.  Not just in a casual manner, but in a deep, personal, and permanent manner.  His will for us is to run - but to run well.  His will for us is to find him - but to find him as more than just the "big man in the sky".  We are called to work "with" Christ, not "for" Christ.  We are called to share "in" his glory, not just to "behold" it. This is what seekers understand - this is what keeps them pressing forward when the going gets tough.

Sometimes our biggest hindrance to running well is a lack of clarity.  I think we commit to the run when we have clarity in our purpose.  First and foremost, we have to learn to live in the "light" we already have.  As dawn begins to break every morning, there is an awareness of the surroundings which becomes ever clearer as the light begins to magnify, isn't there?  As dawn begins, I can get around in the light I have, but as more light begins to fill the sky, I see what I did not before.  This is kind of like our faith - we use what we have or know today and walk in it.  As we are walking in the faith we have today, new faith begins to "dawn".  There is an enlightening of our path and a building of our faith.  We move from only seeing things a "little clearly" to beginning to apprehend them with better clarity.  This is how God works in our lives - taking the little we are willing to step out with, and building upon it until it is brings us across the finish line!

What we choose to believe as our reality will help us move beyond our doubt. When I know God loves me, cares about each step I take, is ever watchful of my life's course, I walk a little more confidently.  If I waiver in any of those beliefs, the "reality" I walk in becomes a little wobbly.  What runners know is experience is only half of what they need to run the race.  They might have trained, practicing on terrain similar to the terrain they will face in the race today, but if all they rely upon is their training (experience), they will fail to make it across the finish line.  They need to know what others have faced in the race, how they have made it through, and what gave them the ability to finish well.  I think this is why God gave us so many examples in scripture - so we could learn how other believers grew in their faith.

Runners choose to "engage" in the race.  They are "in the moment" as they run.  They take every step with purpose - often challenged to "look inward" as the fatigue of their own bodies wants to pull them down.  It is dangerous for them to "disengage" from the race - to turn inward, focus on the impossibilities of finishing the race because of the challenges they face with the fatigue of their bodies.  Whenever we turn inward, we disengage from this walk of faith - for faith's focus is not internal, but "in" the one who "is". Circumstances should not determine our reality - nor should they push us inward.  One thing which helps me "engage" in this race is my time in the Word.  I have come to appreciate that this entire book we call the Bible is really a book about and for me!  It is was written for me, to help me learn how to run well, and to get me to focus on the things in this life which really matter.  When I read those stories contained within, I see me.  So, it is a book about me - struggling like the rest, but learning to "re-engage" when I drift, using the light I have until new light comes.  Maybe it is about you, too? Whatcha think?

One final thought - sometimes it doesn't look like we are winning the race, but the truth is we have already won!  When I go to the Word, I see what God has done in the lives of others and I use that as a foundation upon which I will build because I believe God will do the same in my own life.  How about you?  Faith is the voice that the "unseen" world responds to - it is the voice which drives the runner to finish and finish well.  Just sayin!