I don't know about you, but this is a question I wonder about.
BIG or little FAITH...
Do we have BIG FAITH??
This December I'm reading a chapter a day in Matthew. There's 28 chapters so why not take one chapter a day and study the life of Jesus. Well, I'm telling you that each day there is something that jumps out at me and speaks volumes! That's what happened a few days ago in Chapter 8. This is where Jesus calms the storm...
Oh man... verse 26! "He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?"
That kicked me in the gut. WHY ARE YOU SO AFRAID!?! and then I realized why...
I don't have BIG FAITH, I have little faith! Oh I would like to have BIG faith... sometimes I think I do...
But if I'm honest with myself, this is an area that I am learning that I have so much to grow in. Anyone else feel the same way? I bring things to the Lord in prayer, I worship and praise Him, I know He is a BIG GOD that can do anything and I absolutely know that I have faith in His unfailing LOVE for us! I have no doubt about how much He loves us and wants to care for us. But the part where we need to let go of the worry... the "why are you so afraid" part. That I need help with and I think a lot of us do.
"Cast all your cares on me" 1 Peter 5:7
"Hide in the shadow of my wings" Psalm 91:4
"Rest in my peace" Matthew 11:28
"I will restore your soul" Psalm 23:3
I love and believe every one of these scriptures! (paraphrased above)
So why is it that when we worry and DO bring our cares to the Lord in prayer, we tend to get up from our prayers and not even 5 minutes later we find ourselves going back to thinking/worrying about them! Does anyone else do this? It's SO stupid, but I find myself praying and crying out to God and feeling HIS PEACE... and then minutes later I find myself thinking/worrying about it STILL! I actually catch myself doing this and it's so frustrating.
Part of it I think is the enemy wanting to keep us from that BIG FAITH. He knows our weaknesses and preys on those areas.
Part of it is also not truly having complete faith and trust in the Lord to work things out... (and here's where I think the key is): the way WE want things to work out.
That's kind of a lightbulb moment for me right here.
I think in my own life I have to admit that it could be my lack of trust in GOD's WILL. Part of our worry is (or at least I guess mine is...) we want things to work out a CERTAIN way. So we worry when it doesn't look like it's going to... and it's more about our selfish desires then saying:
THY. WILL. BE. DONE.
Not MY will, but YOUR will LORD.
The definition of faith according to Webster's Dictionary is:
FAITH = complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
Well then it looks like I lack COMPLETE TRUST. That's a hard pill to swallow, but I'm just trying to be honest here.
So how do we combat that or work on that, and INCREASE our FAITH??
How do we have BIG faith? Faith that moves mountains... Faith that stands STRONG in the storms of life?
Now remember Jesus said even faith as small as a MUSTARD seed can move mountains...
"Truly I tell you," Jesus replied, "if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen." Matthew 21:21
So even LITTLE faith can do BIG things! I don't want you to go away from here all sad and depressed that you have little faith. Hey... YOU HAVE FAITH!! That's a good thing, because little mustard seed faith can MOVE MOUNTAINS! For me it's more about wanting to get in line with God's Will and STOP. THE. WORRY. How do I trust completely and KNOW that I KNOW that I KNOW that He will work things out and it will be GOOD. No matter what, no matter how far removed from my own will it is, it will be GOOD and HIS BEST for the situation.
I want to tell you a story of someone I know who has BIG faith. Her name is Jolene DeHeer and she is someone I thank GOD for. She is a woman who LOVES the Lord and has spent her life making sure everyone who she is put in front of KNOWS that God loves them ABUNDANTLY. She is a gifted speaker, an author and has a heart for middle school kids like no-one I've ever seen. My daughters have been blessed to get to know this lady through the SERVE project at my brother's church in Michigan. Jolene has quite the life story and and if you ever get a chance to hear it, it's powerful because this woman has BIG FAITH! But she didn't always have that. She loves to tell stories of people who have shown BIG FAITH and there's one story in particular that I want to share with you... because I think hearing these stories also increases OUR faith.
She told a story years back to a junior high group my oldest daughter was in. I'll never forget this story and I've shared it so many times over the years and I know it's impacted others as well. This is paraphrased but here's the story:
Her friend was on a road trip and stopped at a gas station. She then proceeded to drive onto her destination but felt the Lord telling her to turn around and go back. But she didn't. The feeling started getting stronger, yet she was getting farther away from that gas station! Finally, after TWO HOURS of driving she figured she better listen and obey and so she turned around. After driving TWO HOURS back in the wrong direction she got to the gas station and asked the Lord "Ok, now what?? What am I supposed to do"... She felt the Lord tell her to go inside and do a HAND STAND in front of the chips or pop aisle (I don't remember which one it was) and she thought that WAS CRAZY! I don't think she was young and fit so I think she probably sat in the car and argued with the Lord a bit before she got out and went inside. But she did... and she did the hand stand. There was no-one inside except the worker and when he saw her do this HE. LOST. IT. He asked her why she did a handstand and she said the Lord told her to! He told her that he was going to KILL himself that night and the one thing he said was "God, if you are REAL then send someone to do a handstand in front of the chips!"
Now THAT is a story of BIG FAITH.
That woman could have kept on driving and gone about her life never knowing what God was wanting to do through her. He may have been putting that on other peoples hearts as well that day, but she was the only one who LISTENED and finally said "OK... I'm going to turn around because I TRUST that you Lord have a reason and You will show me."
Do we have BIG faith like that? Faith that is so in tune with the Lord and HIS WILL that we trust Him and are willing to look TOTALLY FOOLISH... for HIS purposes! But look at the outcome. Those kinds of stories are amazing testimonies to share what God wants to do through us!
I want to have that kind of BIG, BOLD FAITH. Don't you?
Here's where I took some time yesterday to come up with kind of a "to do" list to increase our FAITH. I'm not a theologian and I'm sure there are many great pastors that have preached on this subject, but I've narrowed it down to a few important things I think would help us all have that BIG faith...
#1. Give God Your Time
I know time is precious. But without time spent in the Word and in prayer, what will be the focus of our lives? Probably not the right things... and trusting Him and having faith in His plan will probably not increase. When our minds are set on Him, when the focus of our day is on Him, He can re-focus us to HIS WILL... which is ALWAYS better than our own! Why do we not see this more clearly?? Taking the time to focus our hearts and minds on Him daily will put life into the right perspective. He knows us better than we know ourselves and has greater PLANS than we can ever dream up!
"He's GOT THIS"
I've heard Him speak this to me in my own prayer time! The CREATOR of the Universe wants to speak to us. To quiet our worry, to show us His love and to work His will out in our lives! When you're giving God your time and taking the time to LISTEN... He will answer. But we have to take the time. (I guess I need a post it note on my forehead to remind myself of this.) The book "Whisper" by Mark Batterson is helping me see this and I am thankful for that.
Giving God MORE time = Less time to worry!
#2. Give God Your Money
This is the area where God says to TEST HIM. He increases our FAITH in this area. It's like God's dare... He's saying "Test me in this! We have all kinds of reasons why we may not see this as an important aspect of faith... but it is. We may be scared to test this one out because it's "up front" faith. We can't test this one out without putting ourselves out on the line first. And it involves money. I know how hard that is to part with, especially when you don't have a lot. I could tell you stories of times when Lance and I had only $20 a week to spend. When we had debt up to our eyeballs. When we had bills to pay and not enough money in the bank. But I will 100% tell you that the Lord ALWAYS provided. In amazing ways and in ways that showed me that I needed to stop worrying and TRUST that He would always provide.
I married an entrepreneur who wanted to start a new business when we were 10 months pregnant with Victoria and we knew that I was going to stay home after we had her. It took me a lot of years to let go on my worry in this area! As I type this I realize this is an area that He's going to stretch me again. We know He is calling us to Colorado and has given us something to do in this next stage of our lives that WILL be bigger than us. It's not going to be easy and it's one of the areas where that worry creeps in. I pray that I will remember (and TRUST and HAVE FAITH...) that He's always provided for us, that where He guides, He provides and ultimately it's about His will and His great purposes in our lives.
So give God your money. Test Him on this one and see how He increases your faith.
"Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need." Malachi 3:10
#3. Give God Your Future
I talked about this last Friday in my "What brings you JOY" post. I truly believe that God has GREAT plans for each and every one of us! That He wants to use the gifts and talents He has given us to show His power and love to this world. So we should be asking Him... What do you want me to do? We all have dreams... but are we giving those dreams TO GOD? Are we asking Him how we can please Him with the gifts and abilities He has given us? He has a much better future for us than we can dream up on our own. So why-oh-why do we worry about it so much! Believe me as I'm typing this I realize I'm in need of all of this advice I'm dishing out! We are ALL a work in progress and that's totally O.K! Earlier this year I sat in my backyard and said to God "USE ME" and those are SCARY WORDS. (I'm actually just remembering this right now) But looking back on that day, when I was in tears saying those words, I KNOW that since that day He HAS been working on me and changing me.
Philippians 1:6 "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
We are all a work in progress. But as we work on giving Him our time, money and future He is increasing our faith.
I want to leave you with a prayer that I hope you will pray and know that the Lord will hear it and bless it:
Lord Jesus, please increase my faith. Help me to depend on You and trust You more. Help me to give you my time, money and future. Help me to read Your Word and listen to Your still small voice. Show me your will for my life and help me to obey You. Thank you for making the winds and waves stand still. Help me to have BIG, BOLD FAITH. I pray for your peace that passes all understanding to come upon me and calm my worried heart. Thank you for your love and help me to rest in You. In Jesus name, Amen.
I hope this post speaks to your heart and encourages you to go for the BIG, BOLD kind of FAITH. Know that God loves you RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE and is encouraging you to step out in faith because "He's got this."
That should give us all PEACE from the worry!
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
Let's all trust our lives in His very capable hands.