The Weaker I Get, The Stronger My Faith In Him

Strength-FaithFaith in God is a funny thing.

It tends to show up the strongest when we are at our lowest point.

There is an old saying that “there are no atheists in foxholes.” This refers to the fact that in times of high stress (such as war) everyone tends to cry out to God regardless of what they claim to believe.

The fact is we all tend to be self-reliant and want to handle things on our own if we can. However, in certain situations, that is just not possible.

I got the idea for this post after reading Shelly Sorem’s blog, Deeply Rooted In Him.  In the post “Ice Bucket Challenge and A Man of Faith,” she talks about a friend who battled ALS.  This friend was incredibly inspiring as his faith seemed to grow even as his body failed him.

As I read this post this morning I could relate to this experience.

I have watched it myself over the last year and a half as my Dad battled cancer.

It seems that the weaker he got physically, the stronger his faith grew.

We made it to countless doctor’s appointments, visits to the hospital, and ultimately in-home hospice care.

At each of these stops along the journey, Dad made sure to let people know that he was in God’s hands and that he wasn’t afraid of what the future held.  He was a Christian his whole life, but when his physical strength decreased, his faith in the Lord blossomed.

I think for many of us, the same thing can happen.

When control is wrenched from our hands we usually have no where else to turn but to God.  It is unfortunate that it has to be this way, but I know that I am a stubborn, slow learner sometimes.

We may not be stricken with a terminal illness for this to occur. Sometimes it is

  • the loss of a job
  • a financial emergency
  • a divorce
  • the death of a loved one.

I have found in my life that I am closest to God when things are most turbulent in my life.  Sometimes there are storms that we face that drive us to our knees as we cry out to Jesus.  Perhaps you have noticed this too.

It is there that I fully rely on God.  I seek solace in the word of Romans 8:28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I can’t understand with my heart why God didn’t heal my Dad.  It hurts and I miss him tremendously.  I know that the grieving process will take time.

However, with my head I can see that his illness impacted many people and furthered the kingdom of God. There were people praying for him from Georgia to Colorado to Michigan to Texas. I hope that some of you were praying from around the world. There were doctors and nurses who marveled at the family support and love that we showered him with.

There was a funeral service where the gospel of Christ was preached, and the legacy of a life well lived was remembered.

I know that one day in eternity, we will see the impact of Dad’s increasing faith and the countless people who his life and ultimately his death impacted.

Consider the chorus of the song “His Strength Is Perfect” by Steven Curtis Chapman:

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect

Remember this when you feel weak:  There is one who will walk alongside you, no matter what your struggle is, and give you the strength to do the work he has called you to do.  Never lose heart; never lose hope; never lose faith.  

One day you will see those you have impacted and what a glorious day it will be!

Building Your Faith: How To Move A Mountain

Stone Mountain Sunset

Have you ever tried to move a mountain using your mind?

It’s not as easy as you may think.  I know, I have tried.

When I was a kid, I tried to move Stone Mountain.  If you are not familiar with it, Stone Mountain is an 825 foot tall chunk of granite that is on the east side of Atlanta. Unfortunately, it didn’t move.

Jesus talked to the disciples about the faith it takes to move mountains in Matthew 17:20.

… Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

When you read scripture over and over it has a way of speaking to you differently each time.  I have read this verse many times.  In context Jesus is talking to the disciples about their inability to cast out a demon from an ill boy.  He admonished them for not having a strong enough faith. However, I was struck with a different application of this verse.


 What if having the kind of faith that can move a mountain isn’t about moving the mountain at all, but to push against an immovable obstacle in order to strengthen your faith?


Consider it isometric exercise for your faith. Isometric exercise is a form of exercise where you use your muscles and cause them to contract, but the weight doesn’t move.  Isometric comes from the Greek “iso” meaning equal and “metron”, meaning measure.  Literally it means maintaining the same measure, dimension or length for the purpose of growth.

Here is the key:

isometric exercise builds strength

even when the weight doesn’t move.

So what does this have to do with moving mountains and having faith? As I see it, sometimes God may put a mountain in our path.  We may feel like we just need to have a little more faith in order to move it.  We may even feel discouraged when it doesn’t move.  We doubt our level of faith.  We may doubt God cares for us.  We may even doubt our relationship with him. But maybe the end result that God desires is not that we move the mountain. Rather, maybe he is simply putting the mountain there for us to push against.

Here is the key to mountain-moving faith: pushing against the mountain strengthens your faith even when the mountain doesn’t move. [Tweet this!]

It may be immovable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from our attempting to move it.

  • Sometimes the mountain may be there because God wants to strengthen us for other trials that may come our way later on.
  • Sometimes the mountain may be there so that we can sympathize with others when they are faced with a mountain that won’t move.
  • Sometimes the mountain may be there because God is allowing us to dig deep into his word and spend time on our knees before him in prayer.
  • Sometimes the mountain may be there to keep us from becoming too self-reliant and forgetting about our need to be connected to God.

There are many reasons that our particular mountain doesn’t seem to move, but there is one unifying thing about mountains:  they tend to drive us back to our Father. If you find yourself struggling today against insurmountable odds.  Take a look at who is right beside you.  Chances are the mountain won’t look quite so big in the hands of the one who made it in the first place.


photo credit: N07/5975607979/”>Gerg1967 via photopin cc


Are there any mountains that you feel helpless pushing against right now?

The Hand of Jesus

Clasping Hands Medium

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you live long enough you are going to feel it.  That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.  Worry sets in.  Uncertainty reigns.  Before you know it, you are descending into full-fledged panic mode.  Your heart races and your palms are sweaty.  Your mind takes over and fills your head with a thousand “what-if” scenarios.

Eventually, you feel like you won’t be able to go on by yourself and you need someone, anyone to give you a hand to lift you up and pull you through…

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

My pastor was preaching this morning about not quitting in spite of the difficulties and discouragement that you may face in this life.  Make no mistake, if you are living obediently, you will face troubles in your Christian walk.  Jesus told us so.  But he also said that he would be there with us.  I loved the illustration that my pastor spoke this morning.  He said that sometimes when he is on stage preaching (he’s been doing this thirty years) that he thinks of this verse in Isaiah and when he holds out his hand to the congregation, he is really visualizing Jesus holding onto his hand.

Pretty powerful imagery, don’t you think?

You see, we often forget that Jesus is right beside us.  He is there to give us strength.  Day in and day out.  There is nothing that we go through alone, because he is there with us.  Our friends and family may desert us, but He never will.  He is always by our side.

Look at the verse again.  Fear, dismay, weakness and faltering are the things that God will overcome for us.  I don’t know about you, but I have known these four well over the course of my life.  These are not adjectives that I want to describe me, but they come visit me when I focus on the circumstances of my life instead of the One who promised to walk beside me through the darkest valleys of life.

When I focus on the storms instead of the One who works all things together for good, fear, dismay, weakness, and faltering are my companions.  They anchor me down during the storm.

When I, instead focus on the One who gathers every tear I cry in his hands, then this I know:

I AM is with me

I AM is my God

I AM strengthens and helps me

I AM will uphold me with his righteous right hand.

So in times of trouble, when my strength is small, this is where my focus turns.  I look to my feeble, empty hand and I envision it clasped in the hands of the Carpenter.  His hands are calloused and they have been pierced, but they are strong.  They defeated death and they conquered sin.  They hold onto me when I have no strength to carry on.  They lift me up when I falter.  They wipe away my tears in this life and they prepare a place for me in heaven.

That is my truth.  

That is my hope.  

That is His promise.


photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/16210667@N02/8755031604/”>CJS*64</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

Preparing As We Wait…

God may give us transition periods and times of waiting to help us depend on him and trust his timing.  If we patiently do his will during the transition times, we will be better prepared to serve him as we should when he calls us.

(Note from Genesis 11:31—Life Application Study Bible)

I am not by nature a very patient person.  I don’t like being behind slow drivers when I am in a hurry.  I hate choosing the wrong line at the grocery store.  I get frustrated when things don’t always go as I think they should. 

All of which makes life very interesting when you are waiting on God’s timing and direction 

These last few years have been an extended period of waiting for me.  I have waited on God’s provision for my family as my work dried up.  I have waited to find the place that God wants me to serve.  I have tried to be obedient to him and wait for his calling. 

Now things are starting to move and I can see how these last few years have prepared me to step out in faith and obedience to him now.  Just as the note above states, my transition periods and times of waiting have helped me depend solely on him and trust in his perfect timing.

It now appears that his timing is near and he is calling me on to new and exciting things.  This push he is giving me has drawn me even closer to him as I earnestly seek him in prayer and make sure I am going where he wants to lead me.

If you find yourself stuck, waiting, and impatient to move on, I would encourage you to continue to seek his face.  Be content to wait on the one that knows you best.  Look for ways to worship Him and serve Him as he holds you for a time.  His timing is perfect and when he calls you, you can be sure that when he has you move forward it will be to the exact place he needs you to be.

 

Stronger On My Knees

Stronger on My Knees

God brings us things sometimes that drive us to our knees.

It’s tough being the type of Christian that God wants me to be.  I don’t know why I am surprised at this.  Jesus said that the way to follow Him was narrow and that many would not be able to make it.  He said that I would have to deny myself and take up my cross to follow Him.  Being a disciple of Christ is so much more than being baptized or being a church member or simply saying the sinner’s prayer.  Being a disciple of Christ is hard work. 

I am convinced that there are two types of Christians:  the ones who know just enough to be saved and the ones who have an earnest desire to be remade into the image of Christ.  The first group has accepted Jesus and then goes forward with their life trying to do the best they can to live like it.  The second group realizes that they can’t be like Christ without some radical remaking taking place. 

Therein lies the difficulty.  When Jimmy said that God brings us things sometimes that drive us to our knees, it resonated with me this week.  I once heard a preacher say that you are either in a storm, coming out of a storm or heading into a storm.  Right now I am in the midst of a storm that has put holes in my jeans and calluses on my knees.  This time, however, I am not despairing.

This time, there is a change in me.  I know that my present storm is necessary, even good for me.  This storm is there because God is using it to reshape me, yet again.  This storm is driving me to my knees because I have exhausted every option in my feeble mind.  I know that all I can do is fall down before my Creator and raise my hands and wait for His voice. 

Would I rather be standing on my own two feet?  Absolutely!  But I also know that I am most able to be shaped by God’s hand when I kneel and submit at His feet.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I urge you to allow God to shape you into the image of Jesus.  Allow the circumstances that drive you to your knees to be the catalyst that drives you closer to God.  Allow His gentle and to smooth away anything that is of you and replace it with all of Him.  Be willing to be remade and be ready for where He leads you.  When your time of struggle is finished and He picks you up from your knees, know that you will be a little bit closer to where He wants you to be.

Father, help me to recognize that you should be the first place I should turn to, not the last.  Help me to rely on you for my strength and my peace.  Give me direction through the storms that life throws at me and help me to be obedient to you when the rain blows away.  In Jesus Name, Amen.