by David Brenneman
In Christ we're given a measure of faith. The Bible says that to us. What we do with it is up to us. Faith, must be nurtured, so that it can grow and not wither.
I was reading in Mark this morning and I was in Chapter 6, Jesus had just fed the 5,000. Faith was going to be given a chance to grow in them but it would appear to be struggling. Ever feel that in your life? Facing something and having diffculty seeing the other side?
The most apt description I can have for that still comes from a movie. The first Indiana Jones movie. He has a piece of paper that shows he must take a step of faith to get across a chasm to the other side. He figures out that the way to go there was meticulously painted so that for anyone standing on the side he was on would not see the way to go in front of them. He tossed some loose stones out in front of him to see.
Trees, plants, are all examples of faith. They are constant real examples of the parable that Jesus gave about seeds. Of how when seeds are planted in the right soil at the right time, good things indeed come. When struggles come it does indeed slow down. For some it stops perhaps for a while or for good. Depends on if they were saved to begin with.
In verse 46 Jesus says goodbye to the crowd, then leaves for the mountain to pray. All the while his Disciples are in a boat trying to get to where they were sent. We know this because verse 45 says He had them get into the boat and go ahead of Him. So they were sent. They knew not that it would be a difficult time. They just obeyed and went. Much as we do each day we're given. We're sent into the world not knowing what's coming next.
So Jesus goes farther inland to the mountain to pray. Yet we read He sees them struggling against the wind to get to where He sent them. Ever feel that way as well? You know the direction that God's sent you yet it seems impossible to get there? As someone once pointed out to me, God can't direct your steps if you aren't walking. So they obeyed...and we see they weren't doing so well. Now consider the fact that all of them were seasoned fishermen. All knew how to handle what they were up against which is why they persisted. They had been struggling for several hours it seems.
Jesus came to them...directly to them. Intending to pass them by it says. He really freaked them out by doing this and tells them not to be afraid. He gets into the boat and the wind that had been the problem stopped....but it reads that they hadn't learned anything from what they had been experiencing in the last afternoon. Learned nothing from the evidence of the power of God. Their faith was still fighting to get out of the shell and ground it was in.
We also struggle in this life. We often are at a cross-roads. I am right now. It often hits me and causes anxiety. Considering the story of the Disciples...I'm in good company. They had it too. The biggest thing to do is to keep taking it to Jesus. Keep reminding ourselves of His promises. In the last several days I've made the choice to keep praying more. To ask Him to be in the boat with me. To see us to the other side.
Our faith grows by way of the challenges we face. Sometimes it's not about us at all. We face a struggle because someone else isn't strong enough to handle it so it's been given to us. We read that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
Yes I see the mounting waves. Yes I see the boat rocking. Yes I see the concern in my own face in the mirror.
Truth says : "I have not changed. I am the same yesterday, today, and forever."
Truth says : "I will not leave you nor forsake you."
Truth says : "I have loved you with an everlasting love."
Truth says : "Behold I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Truth says : "You are in my hand and no one can pluck you out of it."
Truth says : "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known unto God."
So now you see why increasing prayer time was necessary and important. For seeds to sprout they must force themselves into the soil. Must push out when they cannot see in order to find the water and nutrients to live. We're compared to seeds planted in that parable that Jesus gave.
Truth says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. We need to delve deeper into our Bible not farther away from it when things aren't going our way. Being intentional about real Spiritual food is necessary to nurture faith.
I've no doubt that God's not brought us all this way to let us down now. He moved us to the other side of a mountain that was impassable to bring us to where we are today. God's not done with us yet. His plans for us were established when the world was created. He knew us before we were born. Before Adam and Eve ever breathed their first breath. Our faith history is important to remember. In a book that is still in it's infancy stages...there's a story of how God put gutters on our house in Columbus. There's a story of how He took a semi truck and kept it from killing me. There's the story of how I met my Wife. When things aren't going well, when fear rises, remembering your faith history is extremely important.
As Mark Lowry said in his video before singing "This Too Shall Pass" he points out that whether or not you're having a good day or a bad day...it will pass. Nothing came to stay. It came to pass. That, he said, was his life verse. Whatever we are facing, what we are facing right now, God's in it with us and He WILL bring it to pass what must be in order to get us through to the other side. We must persist in being faithful. To keep our eyes upon Jesus as the hymn writer said. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of Earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.
It's not to say we still won't face anxiety or fears. It doesn't mean we failed at living the Christian life. It means we learn to grow deeper and press on towards the upward call in Christ Jesus that we have. Don't ever expect Satan to roll over and stop trying to hinder our growth in Christ Jesus. Scripture is clear that He who began a good work in us WILL continue it. That we ARE His workmanship. Satan will try what He's allowed to (read the beginning of the book of Job). Satan cannot stop our sanctification. We can slow it by our disobedience. That's where the forgiveness of God, His Grace and His Mercy come in.
Growing in Christ isn't supposed to be easy...but in Christ all things are possible. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face...and the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. So if you would...keep us in prayer while we pray ourselves.
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