Saturday, March 23, 2013

Walking In Faith

What is faith?

"Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see" ~ Hebrews 11:1

How does one perceive Faith within their daily lives? There is no such thing as one fits all when it comes to answering questions of what Faith really means. Faith is an abstraction. Faith is intangible. Faith is subjective. At least it is within the depths of each of us. 

The more one understands what Faith is for them, the more one's Faith is tested. The more personal Faith becomes, the harder it is to describe. For me, Faith has become a way of life. I walk in Faith. However, it took time for me to get here. Not to mention, I continue to be tested in my Faith. The more Faith I gain, the more I am tested. It brings to mind the story of Abraham, found in Genesis 11:18-25:11. I recommend reading it, for I cannot do justice in summarizing it here. 

So, here is the best example of which I can give of my understand of the journey of Faith:

Think of Mathematics. In order to get to a higher understanding of Math, one first needs the knowledge of the basic principles. In order to understand the basic principles, one needs to know the building blocks. The building blocks are numbers. Once a person understands what numbers are, how they look, and their succession that person can build on that understanding. The next step would be addition and subtraction. Once basic arithmetic is mastered the student becomes familiar with multiplication and division. Next comes algebra, and then trigonometry, and after that calculus. Math doesn't get easier the further you go into it. In actuality, it becomes more complex, but the understanding and knowledge of what came before prepares one to gain further knowledge and understanding. This is how Faith works too. 

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my husband and I have struggled financially our entire marriage. Whatever mistakes were made became irrelevant. What led us here only mattered in the form of what not to do next time: How can we change our methods for the future? How can we build upon what we have learned to better ourselves? When we felt called to have our first child, it was a unanimous feeling. Regardless of our financial situation, we knew God wanted us to have a child. We had to trust that we would be financially stable. When our son was born, we were at first concerned with how to provide all of the things necessary for a baby: clothing, diapers, toys, bed, etc. We prayed. And prayed. Our prayers revolved around God providing what we needed to allow us to provide for our child. That included being able to buy groceries, pay rent, keep cars running, and utilities. But praying is only half of the equation. If we didn't believe in God's ability to answer these prayers of ours, then He wouldn't be able to answer our prayers. We had to have Faith that God would provide all we needed. Notice I said needed, not wanted. There is a vast difference. 

One of the parables of Jesus that entered my mind frequently during this time was Luke 12:16-32 ~

    16 Then [Jesus] said told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' 18 Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' 20 But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God." 
    22 He said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you - you of little faith! 29 And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you needed them. 31 Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 
    32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

Do not worry. That was what I focused on. Every time my fears of being able to afford all of these things we needed entered my mind and I began worrying over what to do and how to do it, I was reminded of this parable. Then, I would pray. It became a constant struggle for me to forsake my worry in hopes of renewing my Faith. What used to be a struggle from one hour to the next, became a struggle from one day to the next, then one week to the next. Before I realized it I was living in Faith, not worrying about how we would be provided for. I was able to enjoy what I did have: my child, and sharing in that joy with my husband.

Do you want to know what else happened? God used friends and family to provide for my family. I had friends allow me to borrow maternity clothing. My mother threw a baby shower that resulted in all furniture being provided for. Friends and family passed on clothing and toys that their kids had outgrown. Everything was provided for. 

Witnessing God's fulfillment of His promise allowed me to build on my Faith. We decided that one of us needed to stay home with our child. Sparing details, with the two of us working we found that we weren't getting the time with our child we believed to be crucial, and that our wishes weren't being met when he was with the sitter. Our quality of life was suffering. We prayed about this adjustment to our lifestyle and upon reflection and discussion came to the conclusion that our best course of action for our family was for me to become a stay at home mother. Again, we were concerned with how we would make it. God reminded us of all He had provided previously, so we exercised the same trust and grew within our Faith. That is not to say that there weren't trials and tribulations to overcome. Quite frankly, one must expect hardship when walking in Faith. You cannot get away from it. So, we endured all that life threw at us. We dealt with opposition from some family members, from society, and even those that had no right to have an opinion on our lives, let alone voice them. But that comes with following the path less traveled. 

Yes, we continued to struggle financially, but we held firm to the belief that God blessed our decision to have only one working parent. Our belief that having a parent present for the minute by minute interaction with our child outweighed any financial gain to be made by having a two income household. We wanted to be the ones responsible for every aspect of our child's development, and knew that in doing so our home life would become better in our relationships with each other. 

We still met with many tribulations and found ourselves in a situation where our only option was to move in with another family. This was the hardest thing we have ever had to do. It brings to mind the joke of the man praying to God to save him from the flood. A boat rolls by and offers the man on the roof a ride, and the man responds, I am waiting for God to save me. The man lifted his head and continued to pray for God's salvation. This happens three times. The man drown and upon meeting his Maker asked God, 'Why didn't you save me?' God responded, 'I sent you three boats.' 

The moral of that story is that you never know in what form God's help will come. Whether it's from second hand items, or friends whose hearts have been warmed and opened to welcome you into their home for a season, recognizing God's answer to prayer often relies on the acceptance of aid offered by our fellow brothers and sisters.

So, here we are living in a beautiful house, following our hearts in choosing to have me stay at home with our son, and praising The Lord for providing us with all of the things we need. We have so much more now that we ever had, including our constant and growing Faith. Our family unit is strong and close, my marriage grows deeper spiritually, and our child is learning that life doesn't end when times get tough. There are valuable lessens for children who have the opportunity to witness how their parents deal with hardship. We have an ongoing philosophy in my family that we remind ourselves with when we are having trouble with tough times: it's not what's happened to you, it's how you choose to deal with it. 

I don't know what God's plans are for me, but I do know that aligning my heart with God's through Faith will not lead me astray. No matter what trials are to come God will not forsake us. Faith allows God to deliver us from ourselves in hopes of becoming what we were created to be in God's image...

1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful. Faith as a journey. Faith as a way of life. Faith the way God intended.