Shaky faith, part two

Faith journeys are something that really fascinate me. I had a conversation about this with my roommate recently. I told him that I’m glad I didn’t start with perfect faith, because then I wouldn’t be able to appreciate how far I’ve come. I don’t celebrate my imperfections, but there are healthy ways to appreciate them, I think. I appreciate that I have more to learn and more room for growth, because that means there are even greater things ahead of me. I appreciate that I’m not at the top of the mountain yet, because it gives me something to look forward to.

I hope you’ll indulge me just talking for a bit here today, because that’s really what I feel like doing. To me, faith is built step by step. In my experience, God doesn’t usually call you all the way into something massive all at once. Think of someone who answers an altar call at church. God doesn’t typically say “Hey you’re going to be a preacher and you’re eventually going to suffer greatly in my name but your faithfulness will be richly rewarded and many will your treasures in heaven be.” Usually, and again, this is just me talking about my perception of things, but usually it’s more of a “take a step towards me” kind of thing.

I’m fascinated and just completely in love with altar calls. I don’t think I’ve once watched someone come forward to give their life to God and not cried over it. But it’s a drawing of God, a culmination of a work He’s doing on the inside of that person. The Pastor doesn’t demand they take some Bible knowledge quiz then and there or make some sort of vow to remain sinless forevermore, there’s really just a single requirement. Take a step for God. Step out of your seat, then step to the aisle, then step down the aisle. Step by step by step, small movements that build into massive moments of God’s power and glory.

In that moment when someone feels drawn to give their life to God, they show enough faith to make those first few steps. Does that process ever change for any of you? Because I feel like that’s still my faith journey. Step by step. And like I talked about yesterday, I’m not always stepping forward with crazy amounts of confidence. God says to move here and I sort of shakily step forward and half the time I don’t feel confident that I’m even qualified to be where He’s moved me. You know what happens every time, though? Every time, God shows up for me. He asks for a step. Maybe He’d prefer a confident step, and like I’ve said a few times now, I’m working on giving Him that, but my experience so far with God is that He’s less worried about confidence and more worried about obedience. He needs you in a position. Your only job, and I’m talking the only true part of what we do for God, is to step where He directs. He provides everything else once you’re there.

Okay so, story time. A month or two ago I rolled into downtown Fort Worth with my roommate and my nephew. They were playing Pokemon Go, but I made a decision on the way down there. I was going to pray for a stranger. If you know me, you know that boldness and confidence are my two biggest points of weakness, so I really don’t know why I decided to go do something that took crazy levels of boldness and confidence, but hey, that’s life with God, right? I’m praying my heart out as we wander the streets of downtown, just asking for God to show me the right person to pray for. We’re there for hours, and it’s super hot, and I’m sort of miserable, and I’m also really frustrated because I’m just getting nothing from God or the Holy Spirit. Just nothin. I’d been texting with my friend who is also one of my pastors while I was down there about what I was doing. Finally, I texted him and said something like “Guess it’s not gonna happen. God’s not really pointing anyone out to me.” I sent this expecting and hoping for some degree of confirmation. The text I wanted to receive back would’ve read something like this. “Hey buddy, proud of you for trying, maybe next time it’ll happen for ya.” That’s not the text I got back. Instead, the text reads “So just pick someone then.”

I was not thrilled about this. Now I had a choice I had to make. I went downtown with faith. I took faith filled steps, believing God was going to show me a stranger to pray for. And it didn’t seem to work out that way. So now I wanted to go home, but I would’ve been ashamed (remember Ezra yesterday? He wanted to ask for a troop escort, but he would’ve been ashamed). I’d intentionally brought my pastor into the situation because I knew it would make me accountable to someone. If I chickened out, he was gonna know. So let me just be totally honest. In that moment, it wasn’t some unshakeable faith that got me to take that first step towards a stranger. It was the fear of feeling ashamed. The fear of coming up short, of saying I trusted God but in the moment revealing to others that I didn’t quite trust God as much as I said I did. So my eyes settled on someone in the square (there’s this awesome big open square in downtown Fort Worth, for those who don’t live here), and I stood up, and I took a step towards him. He happened to be a Fort Worth Police Officer.

Those first few steps were brutal. I felt so unconfident. I was nervous, my mind went totally blank, I was worried because I went downtown expecting God to shine a light on someone specific and tell me to pray for them and to tell me exactly what they needed to hear, yet here I was approaching a random stranger at random. But as I walked, something funny happened. It’s that funny thing that always seems to happen when you step out in faith for God. I got this tingling feeling. I got this sense that as random as this felt, as uncertain and unsure as I was at the time, that God had something for this man. I knew it in my heart. This was the person that God wanted me to pray for all along.

I opened up a conversation, and as the officer started to speak I knew what God wanted prayed over him. I knew it clear as day. Not only that, but having God supply me with everything I needed gave me great confidence. I wasn’t scared anymore, wasn’t unsure. Those first few steps were so shaky, guys, you don’t even know. I was stepping out in faith, but it was uneasy faith. But God didn’t need much from me that day. He needed me in position, in downtown Fort Worth, and He needed me in obedience, which was listening to my pastor, selecting someone at “random”, and taking that step towards them. Step by step.

Wanna know my favorite part of that story? It’s the timing of it. The timing of when God made me aware that He had something for this officer. It wasn’t when I “randomly” picked the officer. It wasn’t when I stood up. And it wasn’t during any one of the first 30 steps I took towards the guy. It was when I was over halfway to him, when it was clear that as much as I might’ve wanted to, I wasn’t going to chicken out. God made sure I’d committed to it first. It’s crazy because I didn’t even realize that aspect of it until this very moment. In a manner of speaking, God was testing something in me. My faith, my obedience, but also how far I was gonna walk in uncertainty. Will I take those steps of faith even when I have no clue what God’s plan is?

I’m a guy who loves to plan. I’m up for the occasional spontaneous adventure, but usually I want to know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, and for how long. God doesn’t always work like that though, does He? Sometimes He sends you out and you don’t know why, and you don’t know where you’re headed. And in this situation with me, He was watching how far I’d go out of pure faith and obedience. No plan, no assurance of success, just a desire to not have to feel like a failure in front of my friend/pastor, and a smattering of shaky faith. And then, BAM, He gave me all that I needed. At first with the realization that it wasn’t random at all and that He did in fact have something for this guy. Then, as we started to talk, God gave me the specifics of what to pray.

I know today’s post is really long, but I just really feel this subject so strong on my heart this week. Take a step for God. Take it boldly if you can, but if not, take it anyways. Your legs may wobble, your knees might get weak, your heart may pound, you might start sweating, your mind might start racing. Take the step anyways. The step is all that’s required. God can work with any degree of faith, so long as you take that step. You’re not required to understand it, you’re not required to be super thrilled with it, you’re just required to be obedient. Step, and I promise you, you’ll find God, waiting to supply you with everything you lack, all the provisions needed to do what He’s calling you to step into.

PRAYER AND CLOSING

Father God, today I thank you that you’re always there when we step.  Lord, could you please get that through to me, to us.  Just make that a truth we never forget.  When we step where you direct, you are always there. Writing about this subject I already feel something changing in me, I feel this confidence and boldness growing.  It’s like all it took was really shining a light on my shaky steps for me to realize just how silly it is.  I trust you God.  I trust you enough to step when you say step, and I ask right now that you continue to build in me confidence and faith that I step boldly from here until eternity.  Grant us all that confidence God.  Your word has stories of men whose faith seemed shaky at first, but you also show us where they ended up, the way you used them and grew them.  Thank you for the Bible, thank you that it’s endured for thousands of years as a source of instruction, guidance, and wisdom.  Thank you for using imperfect people, and thank you for not giving up on us when we stumble.  I love you, God, and I thank you so much for everything that you’re doing in and around my life.  Would you please bless my friends and family today, God?  My life is so full of love and friendship these days and I just ask that you would show some special kindness or blessing to those people who are a part of my life and are doing so much to make my days so amazing.  Thank you, God.  In Jesus’ precious name I pray, amen.

Alright, I gotta get back to work, but I love you guys, and God loves you from the beginning of time until the end.  Come back on Thursday as we wrap up this three part look at shaky faith by going to the word of God for an example of shaky faith and one of my favorite Bible faith journeys.

 

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