Faith, trust, steadfastness…words that have been on my heart a lot the past month or so.
It started when a friend and I memorized James 1:3 together.
For some reason I felt compelled to memorize more than just that one verse. I had no idea why at the time.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be
perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously
to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him
ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a
wave of the sea that is driven tossed by the wind. For that
person must not suppose he will receive anything from the Lord;
he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Faith, trust…these words came up when we went to visit family for Christmas. We have so many things going on right now that could so easily pull our eyes off of Jesus. That could make us give up, throw the towel in, call it quits, and above all, ask “Why?”
And yet, in the midst of it all, I heard the sweet Holy Spirit whisper, “Trust.” And He gave me this verse, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths.”
He didn’t tell me to trust Him with a portion of my heart, but with ALL of it. Even the things that reside deep within it that no one else knows. I must trust or I will worry. I must trust or I will become fearful. I must trust or I will become sad. I must trust or there will be a twisting in my heart that causes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain.
He tells me to trust even when I might not understand. My own understanding leads me to nowhere but dark places. When I lean on my own understanding I have anxiety, stress, sleepless nights, anger, and depression.
He does not end with trust me and don’t lean on yourself. He continues. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths.” In everything I do, big or little, I am to acknowledge Him. “Acknowledge” in the Hebrew is the word yada. It means “to know”. In all my ways I am to know Him. I am to know Him when life is sweet, nice, welcoming, and filled with beauty. I am to know Him when life is bitter, mean, uninviting, and ugly. As I sit and think about the reality of that…of knowing Him at all times…I realize I have so far to go. My prayer is that daily my eyes be opened to the wonder of God and that I will know Him, see Him, hear Him in all my ways. When I do this, when I know Him, my path will be directed not by my own feeble attempts but by the God who created me, knows me, loves me, died for me, lives for me. His direction is so clear that I do not doubt. I have no anxiety about the decision. There is only peace, which He promises us. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let your hearts not be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
I am usually volunteering in rWorld, our children’s ministry, on Sundays, but this week I was able to go upstairs to the service.
The text…James 1:1-12.
I just smiled. I pictured God giving me a wink. In that moment he was not only reassuring and teaching me but He was also answering a prayer. A prayer, nonetheless, for wisdom and to better understand the concept of steadfastness.
Steadfastness in this verse means endurance, perseverance, stand firm.
It is the testing of my faith that will bring about steadfastness. And as Wesley, my pastor, said, it is not God that is testing us. We are tested because of sin. Sin is what makes me lean on my own understanding. Sin is what makes me waiver in my faith. Sin is what makes me question.
But sin doesn’t get to win. It doesn’t get the last say so.
While I don’t welcome trials, I am learning that it is in trials that I better see the face and feel the touch of God Almighty. I pray that in trials I will remain steadfast and have the peace that He has left for me. That peace which will surpass all my understanding. And in remaining steadfast, I am leaning on Him instead of myself, which will result in Him directing my path…which leads right back to Him.