This post came up real strong in my heart just today. I have to confess something to all of you:
I struggle with unbelief.
As a Christian, I have felt like that specific confession is one of the worst things to admit to...let alone struggle with. But for me, I need a reality check and kill a myth in my own mind by confessing it to you. ALL Christians struggle with unbelief. Now for each person it looks different. For me, I've tried to hide it to prove my faith to myself to everyone else.
Has anyone else struggled with the same thing?
I love God...man I love Him so much!! However, there are days when I wonder if He is even there. Sometimes that one day ends up stretching into days, weeks and months.
The first time I struggled with full-fledged unbelief was when I was sixteen and cried out to God to speak to me. I heard nothing. Boom....faith shattered. It was the first time I believed there was no God. Yet, hope held on. I gave God another chance after months of anger, depression and searching for answers. He came through. The big lesson I learned was that God DOES loves me...a lot. However, I may not encounter Him the way I want to....but it's always in the way that I need to.
The second time felt worse. It was after the most intense debate about God I've ever been in: faith vs logic. I was on the faith side and needless to say....I lost....no it was worse than that.....logic utterly destroyed my faith. I became an agnostic overnight. I don't think I've ever been so low before. Without God, I lost all hope and sense of direction, purpose and identity. The hardest part....I was head worship leader in Boise. I led worship from the stage while not even believing a single word I was singing. Some say hypocrite. I say HUMAN. One day I went to my piano just to play. It was the first time I ever went to play without intending to worship God. I started playing...then I started weeping. I said out loud, "I don't even know what I'm doing. I don't know what I believe anymore....why am I just talking to the air?" As I paused to weep at the weight of my honest words, something rose within my heart....I couldn't explain why, but I knew that I loved God. My heart was connected to Him on a deep level. So I said, "Maybe I'm insane....but I'm in love with a God I don't even believe in right now. Maybe you're there God, maybe you're not, Either way....I love you and I can't refute that I feel that way." Two days later I picked up the book, "Case For Christ" without every hearing about it before. From there, God began to reveal Himself to me on a whole other level...this time, addressing logic. The HUGE lesson I learned through all of that was: Your faith CANNOT be sustained if you depend on people to spoon feed it to you. You MUST MUST believe because God has revealed Himself to you. Personal faith does not stand very long upon someone else's beliefs or experiences.
C'mon somebody! That nugget right there will radically change many people's lives. I know because it radically changed mine.
Want a sad reality? I came to DTS (YWAM Discipleship Training Program) searching for answers about what God is capable of doing. Before this, I haven't seen one person be healed. Now I can honestly say I've seen hundreds of people healed by the power of God!! I've even seen someone have a demon cast out of them!!
Guess what? Even after seeing all of that, I have been struggling with unbelief. I haven't gone back to being an atheist like the first time or an agnostic like the second. No....thankfully my rock bottom in faith never goes as low as the last time I hit it. This time, I doubted God loved, cared or could provide for me. The catalyst? Money. Amazing how it's easy to believe in God when I have money in the bank....but when there's nothing left and either God has to come through or I'm homeless, my faith is nowhere in sight. Haha (I don't know why I'm laughing. It's not that funny) You know what lesson I'm learning this time? Faith is not dependent or sustained upon seeing miracles. (though it's definitely faith building) Faith is dependent and sustain upon what I personally am convicted of and believe about God and His character.
Just pause and ponder that for a moment...In fact, I encourage you to read that out loud at least once.
A question I'm asking myself more and more is: If I was removed completely from all Christian society and influence and I lived in a culture where no one believed in Jesus as the Son of God, what would my faith look like?
That's a tough question.
Obviously we all would like to think we'd still believe in Jesus and remain faithful to following Him. But for me, it's ESSENTIAL that I know the true honest answer to that question. What would the answer to that question be for you?
Let me explain it like this:
Let's say you have 1 candle, 1 fireplace and 1 lighter. All are lit and burning brightly, working together to bring light to the room. But now lets say a huge gust of wind blows through and puts out all 3.
Tell me, which one can light itself after being extinguished?
That's right. Only one....the lighter.
The candle is cool. It sets a nice mood but is easily blown out. The fireplace is big and showy but a huge gust of wind or a bucket of water can put it out.
If faith is the fire...I don't want to depend on someone else to light it for me. I want to be able to light it myself.
Did you feel the Holy Spirit pierce through your heart with conviction with that revelation? Whew! I sure did!!
I can put on a big show like that fireplace....in fact I have before. But passion does not sustain faith. (A show of passion is WAY overrated anyway. I'd rather my flame be small and real than big and fake)
Or I could be like the candle and depend upon someone else to light me. But genuine faith isn't lit or carried by someone else's faith. My pastor, my parents, my best friend, Bethel's podcasts, my husband (to be someday) nor any fiery, radical, passionate Christian can give me my faith! Nor can they sustain it! Even miracles, signs and wonders cannot sustain my faith! (Just look at the Israelites after they escaped Egypt)
What gives me faith?
Going to God and saying, "I DON'T KNOW! WILL YOU SHOW ME??" I don't KNOW all the answers! Holy crap how could I? I'm not God!! I'm not even able to find the answers on my own. God is waiting with lighter fluid to put into my mind, heart and spirit. GOD REVEALING HIMSELF TO ME IS WHAT GIVES ME FAITH....and that's what will give you faith as well.
That's how faith is given. So how is faith sustained?
First God reveals a part of who He is to me, then....I act upon it.
If I'm a kid and my parents tell me, "Surprise! We're going to Disneyland!" You better believe after having a wild freak out moment, that I'm running upstairs to my room to pack my bags. I FULLY have faith in what my parents just told me. But say after my freak out moment, I instead say, "Wait a second....this doesn't make sense. Where did my parents get the money to afford this? I never saw any signs of this plan before now. What if this is a joke?" Then I don't pack my bags...
Tomorrow comes, my parents run up to get me and say, "Ok! We're off to the airport right now! We don't want to miss our plane, are you ready?" What a bummer.....I missed out on a HUGE and AMAZING experience because of how I chose to respond to my parent's announcement.
It's the same with God. If He reveals Himself to you or maybe even reveals something about yourself to you, you have a choice. Faith believes God at His word, even above our own understanding, then ACTS upon it. (Proverbs 3:5-6, James 2:14-26, Isaiah 55:8-9 and Hebrews 11:1)
So to put it simply: Revelation (God revealing Himself) gives you faith, acting upon that revelation sustains it.
And what's cool is that God gives further understanding and revelation as you move and act in faith.
The reality is: there's no fooling ourselves...we all struggle with unbelief from time to time. I know I do. Sometimes it's embarrassing to admit because of my position in ministry, reputation or because of how long I've been a Christian. Religion says, "I KNOW." But faith won't come until I go to God and say, "I don't know...but God, will you please show me?"
This is where unbelief ends and faith begins; by admitting what we don't know and seeking God for Him to make Himself known to us. I encourage you....light your own flame. Let your faith burn even when no one else around you believes in Jesus. Go to God and start bringing your unbelief to Him. He's not surprised, nor intimidated or put off by it. He already knows and is just waiting for you to ask: "Will You show me?"