I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
It’s been awhile. And I’ve missed putting my fingers to the keys and sharing with you all what I’ve been learning. But it’s been one of those seasons – one where my heart could only go as far as putting pen to paper; one that has felt too in-process and sacred to start picking apart and articulating for others; one that felt like it should stay between God and I while He worked out what He needed to in my heart.
For the past ten years, though they have been rich and full, I feel like I’ve been looking at the tapestry God is weaving from underneath. It’s been messy and the threads don’t seem to connect – I don’t understand why He works the way He does in my life. My prayer as I entered into this season, was that God would give me even just a glimpse from above at the greater story He’s weaving. And He’s been answering that prayer, but it’s called me to exercise and fight for faith like I never have before. I’m still very aware of the mess. I’m still feeling the pressure. But I don’t feel stuck or hopeless. Instead, I’m in awe of the beauty of His intricate design, His perfect purpose and His impeccable timing.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of going to Israel. While I was there, I asked two “warrior women” to step into battle and pray with me because I was really struggling under the weight of false narratives that had built up through cycles of hope and disappointment, and I couldn’t fight the lies alone any longer. As we prayed in a hotel room in the city of Jericho, Jesus gave me both a spiritual and physical freedom I had almost lost hope was even possible. A key promise God spoke during those hours was that He is doing a new thing. He wants to unfold a new story in an area of my life where I’ve seemed to experience the cycle of the “same old” disappointment for the past ten years.
What God did in me that night in Israel felt so profound. The things He spoke felt so clear and so tied to my physical world that it felt like it would honestly break me if He “just” sanctified me and gave me new eternal perspective…using the same cycle…again. And to add to it, God spoke through Scripture and through random people, affirming that promise from what seemed to be many different angles. This caused my anticipation to grow and called my faith into action.I wanted to be an active participant in the thing He was doing, so one of the big questions I started to ask is: “What does faith look like for me here? How do I live out this new freedom as I embrace the new thing God promised to do?”
It didn’t seem simple at the time, but as I look back, the clearest answer to that question is: Exercising true faith calls for unwavering obedience.
It’s actively living out the truth that God is who He says He is and that He will do exactly what He promised, in His perfect timing.
Obedience is the fruit of faith rooted in trust.
There is a story God has taken me back to over and over through the years when He’s asked me to trust Him, release my grip, and put the desires and hopes closest to my heart back on the altar. It is the story of Abraham and Isaac. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. It seemed like an impossible promise. His wife, Sarah, was well past child-bearing age. But Abraham believed God – he fully embraced the promise despite not being able to see how God would do what He said and lived his life convinced God was the Promise-keeper.
Sarah also exercised faith and considered Him faithful who had made the promise. And He was. God gave them a son, Isaac, and told Abraham that his descendents would come through that son.Then God asked Abraham to do the unthinkable and take Isaac to the top of Mt. Moriah and sacrifice him – give him back – to God.I imagine the record player needle scratching across the vinyl as Abraham says: Hold up! What did you say!? And I can relate. It comes as such a shock when I’ve been watching God fulfill His promise to me: I begin to see the things I’ve been praying for manifest before my very eyes. Hope starts building. And then, just before it’s fulfilled, I hear God ask me to give it back. To trust Him enough to put that thing I’ve long hoped and prayed for back on the altar and believe that He is still able to do what He said He would do, either in this particular situation or by bringing it about in a completely different way.When I’ve been sent reeling by an unexpected turn in my circumstances, I’ve begun to practice getting on my knees and opening my hands as I pray.
This physical posture has taught my heart how to do the same when it feels too painful or too impossible for my heart to exercise the kind of faith God is calling into action.
It has taught my heart how to keep believing without seeing – when circumstances are not in my favor, when there are too many impossibilities in the way of the promise, and when by human standards all hope feels lost. God is still God. Sometimes it takes putting our bodies in a physical posture of obedience, so our hearts can learn it and get there too.
But Abraham chose to see the promise through the Promise-keeper. And this is why Abraham is recognized for his faith in Hebrews. So many times I’ve responded to God, released my grip, opened my hands and put my biggest desires and hopes back on the altar. Deep down I expected God to reward my faith by giving those hopes back or by providing a way out that didn’t feel like rejection – that didn’t repeat the cycle. That misplaced hope has led to so much disappointment. It’s led to a weaker faith that needs to see to believe. It’s led to thinking God is out to trick me and prove that I’m not ready to receive what He wants to give me (because, of course, sanctification for eternity is more important than blessing in the here and now). It’s led me to question His goodness and doubt His kindness towards me. But it’s not because any of that was true of God. It’s because I was fixing my eyes on the ram and letting the fulfillment of the promise shape my view of Him.
Here’s the thing: if the promise becomes “God” to me, then the tapestry remains disconnected and confusing when my circumstances don’t match what I thought God promised.
Our obedience is proof of our faith and Jesus is proof of God’s faithfulness.
So, I put my fingers back to the keys this week because this thing I’m learning feels too good to keep to myself. God isn’t just weaving a tapestry in my life. He’s weaving one in yours too. And maybe you feel stuck in the mess underneath, or maybe He’s giving you glimpses of the picture above, too. I know that the disconnected frayed threads and pieces I am seeing from underneath are part of an intricate, beautiful design that God, in His sovereignty and wisdom, is weaving together for His glory and my good – both in eternity and in the land of the living.When your heart is so united with God’s that you hear the Spirit speak and promise good things, you can be sure He means to fulfill exactly what He said. Because God is faithful to finish the work He’s begun. Because that’s who He is – the Promise-maker and the Promise-keeper. So let’s seek Him for Him. Let’s be people who exercise true faith that “believes God and His Word when circumstances, emotions, appearances, people, and human reason all seem to urge something to the contrary.” – L.B. Cowman