Thursday, May 7, 2009

Faith Transformation

Several years ago, someone, a young woman I know, spoke a prophetic word over me. As we were praying in a small group at our Women's Bible study on a Tuesday morning she said the Lord gave her a picture. She said she could see a treasure chest, and it was a treasure chest of faith. She said it seemed unending to her, a faith that never ran out and it believed in God for great things, and for supernatural things. She said it was a supernatural faith.

When I think back to this vision that she shared with me, it makes me think of twelfth chapter of 1 Corinthians where it says,

"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills."

As awesome as it would be to be considered a "woman of great faith," I am not so foolish as to give myself and credit for having it.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— Ephesians 2:8.

Sometimes I feel like I have a lot of faith. I can say at least, that I know what it is to be full of faith. I have had the experience where even though everything seemed stacked against hope, I had the full assurance of faith that God would come through. I have reached those moments of despair where you just want to give up hope, when suddenly something rises up within you, and you know that you know it is not of yourself. I know it, even though I can't really explain it. But I imagine if you have experienced, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

When you have had the experience of faith that I'm talking about, it makes it so much harder when you find yourself lacking faith, especially when it seems as though your lack of faith in Him is in far littler things than you have believed upon Him for before.

I currently find myself struggling between these two places. It's an uncomfortable place to be stuck.

So what's been shaking my faith lately, you ask? I'm suddenly a little ashamed to admit it. Primarily it's been the checkbook. Money is really tight. When I start to think about all the debt, paying for school, our State Income Tax refund that got lost in the mail... it starts to overwhelm me.

Then I think to myself about the times I have had great faith for great things. I remember during the adoption process when we found ourselves pitted against the birth father who decided he wanted our child back. I think about Victoria's health crises, when she knocked herself unconscious so badly that Neal thought she was brain damaged, and I just knew she was OK. I think of the years of infertility we suffered through when I kept telling people I would have a daughter because I knew the Lord had made me a promise. Hopeless times, yet a heart full of faith.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

"...certain of what we do not see..."

As I have been sitting here and writing this, I have noticed something. When I type about the things that concern me, I get overwhelmed, that sick feeling starts to grow in the pit of my stomach. Yet when I reminisce about the things God has done, I feel my faith rise, my hope is restored. Suddenly I become certain of what I do not see.

It suddenly brings to mind the chorus of the Old Hymn

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.

What a wonderful truth. When we place our focus on the Author and Finisher of our faith, He responds faithfully by increasing it.

Forgive me for rambling tonight, I think this post has been more for me than for anyone who might read it. It is a reminder to me that the Lord is my Prince of Peace.

"You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You."
- Isaiah 26:3

Lord, it's so simple, yet so challenging. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on You. Help me keep my eyes focused on You, today and every day, in everything.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Seeking Him

Started on a new Bible study yesterday with some other bloggers. I've been missing the consistency of attending the women's bible study at my church and lacking the direction in my bible time (which can be a real killer to it) so when I found out about this study being started by a blogger I follow, and a blogger she follows, I thought, "why not?" Getting in to the word is never a bad thing, and having some sisterhood and accountability brings even more hope and promise to it.

I liked what I did yesterday but still need to get to today's, but as it turns out I may have jumped the gun anyway... we'll see! Feel free to join in!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sounds of Silence

It's been a quiet week here on the blog. I wish I could say it was some great exercise in self-control, but it wasn't. There was quite simply more pressing matters that drew me away from blogging.

We had a wonderful women's event at our church Saturday afternoon. It was a half day conference/ luncheon. I had the privilege of participating in a couple different ways. I wrote a couple of short skits and got to perform them. We had a rehearsal earlier in the week, I got to work with a sweet girl in our church who I don't know super well, but she's one of those people you don't have to know well to know how precious they are. (I call her a girl but she's probably 28 or so and a married mom of a precious little girl.) We had fun sort of winging it through parts of the process and such. For my first skits they weren't bad, we had fun.

I also got to teach my first ever workshop. As it turns out, I didn't do it any differently than I've done all the Bible studies I've taught. We ended up being a little pressed for time, so I might have made it a little more interactive if we'd had more time, but one thing I really love is the way God filters apparent bumps. Our time constraints changed considerably from originally prepared for, but the Lord always manages to work out the details. For me personally I felt more confident in how the first session went, but I got good feedback from both, which was really nice. It's been a while since I taught, and it was great to experience the faithfulness of the Lord, yet again, in the way He just shows up. I always have total confidence in Him showing up - because I know it's not just me He's faithful to, but to every woman there who is hoping to hear from Him.

I also haven't gotten much work done on my book this week. More silence. I'm in the middle of the 7th chapter. I think I only had 4 last time I mentioned it, and finished the 6th shortly after that. There wasn't much work being done on it this week. I need to get back to it. I've been enjoying it a lot, even nothing ever comes of it. I am going to have to actually go back and reread it to catch up. The creative process is an interesting one, and it's sort of sad when it's silenced. I think I mentioned how the first time I tried to write a book more than a dozen years ago that it was silenced by harsh criticism. It's been a regret for a long time that I never followed through and just gave up instead. Silence of defeat is not a good thing.

We started new Growth Groups this week. It's a change in our midweek service format. We are breaking up into small groups to discuss the previous Sunday's sermon. This week's went really well. We ended up in a different group than we planned but we really liked it. I found myself trying to be more silent than my nature though. I ALWAYS have a lot to say. It's my nature to lead, and I am purposely trying to work on my listening skills in this process. A couple people had asked me if I would be leading a group and the opportunity wasn't actually there. I can't help but wonder if my pastor wasn't considering my shortcomings too. Either way though, silence CAN be a good thing. I'm working on the good silence of giving others room to speak.

There's a situation that has been in the perimeters of my life for quite some time now. It's been hard for me, it's hard to watch people I care about hurting. I have tried hard to remove myself from the situation to the best of my ability. Even though I have been wrongly accused otherwise, I have chosen not to talk about the situation. Yesterday it came visiting me. I found out from an outside party that I have been slandered. I already knew that was the case, but I have left it to the Lord. This person who heard the things spoken against me chose to defend me without asking me first because she felt she knew me well enough to do so in confidence. It felt good to know that the Lord would use someone to defend me. I heard things I didn't care too, hard things, but I choose to continue to keep quiet on the matter. It's the faith of silence.

Yesterday I found myself drawn into a debate where I felt like I could not remain silent. There are a lot of topics these days that due to the political climate we live in, it's dangerous to hold certain opinions. The thing about it is, sometimes silence can be a dangerous thing. I think the bullying towards silence in the body of Christ is bringing about compromise. People are afraid to speak the word of God because it isn't well received. I don't know if the compromise is even realized at times by those who are making it, which in a lot of ways makes it even more dangerous. People think they are doing something good by being inclusive, and I believe the body should be inclusive of people, but not of sin. And changing what you call sin, to "choice" or "lifestyle" doesn't change what it really is. I realize I'm being vague. I'm not sure how much I want to share for the sake of consideration to the one I am currently in discussion with, the debate isn't quite over. I guess you could call that the reflection of silence.

Another place I have chosen not to be silent in the last week is in the fight to save the jobs of a group of young people I know who work for the City. Budget cuts are coming after kids' programs in my town again, and it's not only going to hurt the children, but a lot of great young people are out of work because of it. I've been doing my best to speak out a lot on the topic, building a blog, making flyers, talking to parents. It's been a definitive rejection of silence, along the lines of "evil prospers when good men do (say) nothing." Granted it doesn't really qualify as "evil," but the concept still holds true. Hmmm... that could apply very specifically about the issues with the church though.

Well, I'm hoping for some greater inspiration so that the silence of the blog will have come to an end. I also hope the book silence will be ending too. I hope the other silences are led by the Lord, respected when they should be, exercised in wisdom, broken when necessary.