For many Americans, experiencing life from the view of a car window has become their daily/nightly unfathomable reality and their saving grace all in one. This year has hit people hard. Those who were not ready for something so vast, so long and so disruptive to the American way of life have been struggling. For many, sickness looks better than despair and anguish and anxiety and stress as their bank accounts continue without hesitation, an unstoppable downward spiral. We think about the excited entrepreneurs who had just added the finishing touches to their new venture, only to be shut down before opening. We are saddened to read about the families who once took for granted their own middle class luxuries, and are now daily trolling the news to find out what the law makers and leaders of their State, their county and their city have decided on to help those who cannot pay their rent. Despair is in the air. In all shapes, sizes, circumstances and people groups we are seeing a large majority of people desperate to make it stop, go back to normal and find peace once again. If we aren’t seeing the ‘divide’ of 2020 just yet, we are either not looking around or we haven’t been affected by these things (on a personal level) at the reading of this Blog. As people who are following after Jesus and His model and example that was set by Him long ago, we are being beckoned by Him to stop thinking about it and just begin to step out in faith for the things which He is directing us to. As much as we speak about gaining our own ground (which is a crucial part one), the ultimate call is to start gathering up the broken and the tired and the ones who have given up all hope. Now more than ever, we must understand the fine line between faith and desperation; walking in the former in order to help those who are in the latter. Now is the time for the CHURCH to become that beautiful benevolent bride, full of kindness, compassion and help with a working knowledge of who God is and what He wants.
We need to know that God is in the middle of our faith walk by doing things according to His word. If we don't have confidence in the midst of our situation we end up with shaky desperate faith, begging for mercy because our current visuals are overwhelming us.
1 John 5:14-15 (NCV)
"And this is the boldness we have in God's presence: that if we ask God for anything that agrees with what He wants, He hears us. If we know He hears us every time we ask Him, we know we have what we ask from Him."
We know that both boldness and confidence are essential to live by the Spirit and Word of God, in lock step with His perfect will for us. At the same time, seeing our request come to fruition, because regardless of what it looks like, we know we have what we ask for and are holding it close in our hearts even before our hands ever confirm it.
1 Corinthians 1:25 (NASB)
“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Faith for all intents and purposes is foolish to the human understanding. Talking to a God who we cannot see, nor can we touch, nor can we hear as we do with our fellow humans requires faith from the very start. This small beginning of our faith act takes probably the most amount of faith that we have because this first step is something that we do and must continue throughout our entire lives. We have all heard many teachings/preachings on faith, foolishness and our own presumptive notions from many different people. And after considering all of these well thought out points that have been made; as people who are fully active in walking and talking the faith that we have, we have come to the conclusion that all faith is foolish looking in from outside of the Kingdom of God and if we are going to insist on presuming that we know what faith is supposed to look like in every single situation, we will become fools within the Kingdom of God. The TRUTH is that faith is powerful, it is also messy, it is also tenacious, it is also a rule breaker, it is also found in mercy, it is also helped along with grace, it also in need of love and it is also very much untamable.
Hebrews 12:2 (NTE)
“We must look ahead, to Jesus. He is the One who carved out the path for faith, and He’s the One who brought it to completion. He knew that there was joy spread out and waiting for Him. That’s why He endured the cross, making light of it’s shame, and has now taken His seat at the right hand of God’s throne.”
In other words, our faith came from and is completed in Jesus. That’s it. When we act upon our faith according to His will and His word, He is involved every time.
Desperation on the other hand happens when we hit a moment in our faith when we think it needs to look like one thing and the reality isn’t quite matching up to it. True, we KNOW that God is involved and we have given everything in our situation over to Him; but that clock on the wall is not slowing down and those tax collectors and lenders and bank executives and that car payment and hospital bills aren’t slowing down either. Oh how quickly our faith can morph into a desperation that goes deeper than anything else because not only have we stepped out on a limb and are already looking pretty foolish to those in waiting for their dues; but now, our entire understanding and knowledge of God is also on the line. We have an expectation that in this one particular moment isn’t looking like what we imagined it would. At some point we forgot that His ways are not ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) and we begin to focus on the things we haven’t seen yet, rather than on what God has already done; and desperate we do become. At this point in the faith stance we start to understand a little better why most Pastors don’t preach this kind of crazy, all in, no matter what, step out there and don’t worry about the wind and waves type of message anymore. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were obviously the exception to the rule and not the example that we are to follow - hello! - they were sentenced to death and this sentence WAS carried out after all! Surely, that was a one off kind of deal and those guys didn’t have the things to lose that we do, RIGHT?
Acts 16:25-29 (NIV)
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for the lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Here we have two guys who are in a situation without a whole lot of options. They aren’t in the best shape physically, getting beaten pretty severely will do that, and in this setting they aren’t exactly in a position that looks like the authority that Jesus walked in and spoke of and that all of us (including Paul and Silas) truly do have; the options were pretty much down to two. They either focus on the situation, the pain, the unjust process and cry out in desperation for God to have mercy on them; or they continue in faith and trust God in the very middle of darkness and bondage. Sounds like they chose to not give up, they chose to stick with what they KNEW, they chose to block all doubt from creeping in and they chose to act upon all of these things by singing. We thank God for examples like this. We are blown away by how much we have in common with these two pioneers. And because they did, we KNOW that we can do it too.
As the old saying goes, “desperate people do desperate things.” A truer statement is hard to find. This is not merely applicable when it comes to people who are hungry and so they grab and go at McDonald’s, this is completely applied to us people of faith who are stepping out in greater amounts, taking longer strides on the water and are gaining in our confidence and our authority while here on earth. In all things that we do, the foremost important step is to make sure that God is the One leading and calling for us to do it. If we don’t know that He is in it FOR SURE, we must not become fools by pressing forward and PRESUMING that He will show up and meet us somewhere along the way (Numbers 14:41-45, Exodus 33:15-16). God desires for us to obey Him and do that which He directs us to do, will He rescue us no matter what? Of course He will, but in what state of mind will He find us? Full of faith or desperate for help? Faith, in all of it’s wild and wonderful qualities is equally and simultaneously full of peace, TRUE faith is stable and steady, it is locked in place and although it may be untamable, it is also immovable. Faith is the HOW, but God is the WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHO. So how do we stay the course and not give up? TRUST HIM. How do we know that we aren’t going to lose that which we are standing in faith for? TRUST HIM. And how do we trust Him? We trust Him because we KNOW Him. We have a mutual love between us, we read the TRUTH about how secure our bond is with Him, we speak out in thanksgiving the things which He has already come through with in our lives, we honor Him with the best that we have in all things and we find that our faith once again takes it’s rightful place in our spirit, soul and body. Faith can surely move mountains, form nations, deliver salvation and ready us for all that which is still to come - but one thing that faith is most assuredly NOT - is desperate.