This is my Bible. Isn't that a great picture? This is unedited, I want to mention. I messed with the colors a bit, but that beautiful, blurry background is all the lens. It has the ability to go all the way down to F1.8 in the aperture setting. Mmmm, I LOVE it! Anyway, that's all a side note.
We went to church this morning, as we typically do every Sunday morning. My husband's Sunday school lesson was about faith. It was a good lesson. He challenged us in evaluating ourselves, and how strong our faith is... not just our belief in something. He referred to the story of Abraham, being willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac... a well known Bible story to those of us who grew up in church. Just because Abraham had a belief in God, would NOT have been enough to carry out God's request of him. It was Abraham's faith that set him on his journey that day. As a mother, I cannot fathom the faith that Abraham possessed. I often wonder if Sarah, Isaac's mother, knew of Abraham's plan ahead of time. Wow.
Our pastor brought a wonderful message, as he always does. This morning, he informed us that he was throwing out most of his prepared sermon notes. He felt he needed to get very BASIC and speak about the gospel. He talked about living RADICALLY for Jesus... and how so many of us who claim to be Christ-followers are so afraid to do that. In previous weeks, he has challenged us to stop "playing church" and to OPEN our mouths and TELL people what we believe... WHO our faith is based upon! I agree with my beloved pastor wholeheartedly. And I am convicted.
Allow me to be very transparent for a moment. I thought about how much I surround myself with people of "like mind." I wondered how many people outside of that circle, truly know that my desire is to follow God's will for my life and for my family. Do I just "believe it?" Or is my faith strong enough to handle the REAL challenges that come my way?
You see, I don't struggle in having faith that Jesus is real. I believe my Bible is true. I believe it was inspired by God Himself. I believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, are all equally GOD. I was blessed to have a mother and father who taught me these things. As I grew, I realized how near and dear to my heart, these beliefs truly are, and they became MY life... not just something that was taught to me. I don't struggle with wondering how Noah built the ark, or how Jonah was swallowed by a whale. I believe Jesus was truly God with skin, and that He came to the earth for the sole purpose of taking on the sin of the world, by dying on a cross, and giving us the option to just believe in Him, that we may have eternal life. I believe He wants a relationship with ME. I believe He loves ME... just as He loves every human being He has ordained to live on this earth. This is NOT where I struggle in my faith. I need more faith that He will give me the strength to be BOLD in living for Him. I need more faith that He will give me the words to tell someone MORE than, "Yes, I go to church." I live in a country where I can profess His name as Jesus, and how often do I take that for granted? How long before it may be challenged?
Yes, I know there are those who think such things are nonsense. I know that some folks actually believe that my way of thinking is weak. I should find wholeness in myself... completion in who I am. Some may even challenge that it takes someone uneducated to believe in something which has no proof! And then, there are those who think that because I believe in Jesus, I must be some holy-rolling, radical, door-knocking, tract handing, think-I'm-so-much-better-than-you-cuz-I-go-to-church, kind of person. Well, you couldn't be MORE wrong. I can't MAKE you believe that God is real. I can't "reason" with you, why science can't "prove it." And I would NEVER tell you that I'm better than you or anyone else, because I know that I'm just as messed up as the next person.
What I CAN tell you, is that I know how He has changed my life. I don't have an emptiness that needs to be filled, because He has filled it. I hope that when true struggles come my way, my faith in Him is what will carry me through. He has proven to me time and time again, that He will never leave me, nor forsake me. He has given me peace when I've asked Him for it. He has told me "no" when I thought I knew better than He did. He gave me grace when I didn't deserve it. He loved me when I believed no one else could. He is God. He is my heavenly Father. And I love Him. It's not just what I believe. It's WHO I AM.