Getting a Faith Lift
by Peter Lundell
As I trudged to my seminary apartment one day, I mumbled and grumbled at God. My wife, Kim, and I had clearly felt that God had led me to not get a salaried job but rather give myself to youth ministry and trust him to provide for our needs. Now the rent was past due, with no divine provision. I had prayed with faith, but got nothing. Thanks a lot, God.
As I stepped inside, Kim smiled and held up a check. Someone had sent us enough for the rent plus a week’s worth of groceries. I went into the bedroom and dropped to my knees. “Lord, I was a fool. Forgive me for not trusting you.”
The next month it happened again. Money was short—I complained—God came through—I repented. Similar story lines played out repeatedly. Kim had faith and God responded. But each time I embarrassed myself by not trusting God then being ashamed after he showed himself faithful.
I am not kidding when I say this: The main reason I grew in faith was to avoid having to repent all the time.
With each episode I trusted God a little more. Each time after that, I felt as if he dangled me a little farther over a cliff and asked, “Will you trust me now?” Sometimes it left me crying for mercy.
God builds our faith by guiding us through hard times the way wind against an airplane wing lifts the wing higher—but only if the controls turn the flaps upward. If the flaps turn down, the wing turns down with the oncoming wind. Our attitudes are like the controls that determine whether we rise or fall in the face of adversity.
In Matthew 9, a woman who had endured a hemorrhage for twelve years reached out and touched Jesus. He said to her, “Your faith has healed you” (vv. 20–22). When two blind men followed him, asking for mercy, Jesus asked if they believed he was able to heal them. “Yes, Lord,” they replied. Jesus said, “According to your faith will it be done to you” (vv. 27–29). They got healed—and the setup to receive a miracle started with their attitudes.
Wherever Jesus worked miracles or changed peoples’ lives, it was according to their (or someone’s) faith. If you’re like me, you may have found that if you do not believe God will act, God will work according to your faith and not act. But if you believe he will, he may do something awesome.
Have your experiences of God fallen short of the marvels you read about in Scripture? Mine too—but remember that most of those folks lived ordinary lives most of the time. And beware of this: When we don’t experience miraculous power, our expectations easily sink to the level of our experience. We can change that by committing to trust God no matter what we experience––even if we feel foolish about it. Our experience will tend to rise to the level of our faith. Jesus is unambiguous: He responds to our needs according to our faith. Many times I have clenched my teeth and said, “Lord, despite my experiences, I choose to trust the promises in your Word. Even if I don’t see your answer soon, I’ll keep trusting.” Be it healing, finances, or relationships, my experiences have generally descended or ascended to the level of my faith.
So there I was, led by God to turn down the well-paying position, packed with fringe benefits and instead take the youth ministry job with low pay and no benefits. A year later I added up the many gifts and special offerings given me in thanks for the transformations God had done in the kids’ lives. I sat back, eyes wide: I was better off financially than I would have been had I taken the well-paying job. Then I thought, Forget about the money. Look at all the great experiences and lives forever changed! Priceless.
When stressed, exhausted, or discouraged, faith can be as basic as choosing whether to turn our wing flaps up or down against the oncoming challenges. And whether or not we understand what God is doing, we can still say, “Lord, I trust you.”
This article is adapted from Closer to God, by Peter Lundell, Baker/Spire, 2009.
Peter Lundell is a pastor, Bible college teacher, and writer who helps people live well in the face of eternal reality. Visit him at www.PeterLundell.com for his weekly blog, online library, and inspirational “Connections.”
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