Thursday, October 3, 2013

Capricious Faith

Imagine what it's like to stand in the middle of a ring, with 1000s of people around you, and have them all watch as you duke it out with your opponent. Now imagine if it's you against 450. Imagine those same odds and going into the contest as the lone person so confident that you will be victorious that you mock the 450 relentlessly. 

Age and experience bring things that no other teacher can bring. Some people never get those experiences no matter what their age while others get it earlier in their calendar. It's been said "trials are God's way of growing us faster", but generally we are not that excited about being in those same progress-generating, sanctification-working circumstances. At least I am not.

1 Kings 18-19 is a story about great faith and then almost no faith. As a reminder, this is the place where Elijah taunts the 450 prophets of Baal, throws water on his alter before it is consumed by fire and then prays for rain to come after a 3 year drought and it rains. After all this it seems like minutes later he is running for his life from a woman.

As a younger man I couldn't figure this out. How could Elijah go from a place of amazing faith with God showing Himself off in the most incredible way with fire and rain, to a place where he is afraid of Jezebel? How does that really happen in a matter of minutes?

These days faith seems capricious; changing often. The story in 1 Kings still is a head scratcher to me and yet in my own life I see the same exact tendencies and frankly, it's irritating. Up and down. Down and up. Conquering nations and afraid of the smallest things. 

I've heard the words "Your faith encourages me" more times than I can count and while it is an encouragement that others are able to see God's hand at work through the circumstances we are going through, the outside doesn't often tell the entire story. What others see is not always what I see myself.

Have you ever prayed for something, in abundant faith and knowing that God is the only One Who can deliver your request, and then watch Him not answer or answer with a "no" when it seems like the only way out is a "yes"? How about knowing that you need this answer right away and then crickets? "Crickets" means that there is no sound, no answer, but the sound of crickets.

I know that God can and does do amazing things, I've seen it too many times to deny it. I've seen Him work over and over again in ways that only could be Him. I do trust Him. I do know that I am completely dependent and yet...

Maybe in these times we need to go out into the wilderness for 40 days like Elijah and speak to our souls. The encouraging part is that God's faithful people of days long past seem to have had similar struggles to what we have today. Yes, they didn't have the full Canon of Scripture and they didn't have multiple copies they could carry on their iPhones but in this case Elijah could see right in front of him and in front of a great cloud of witnesses a 450/1 victory and then be fearful minutes later.

God still used him in a mighty way and God knows our limited and weak frame. We can rest in His care knowing that He will continue to work even when our faith is all over the map. He cares for birds and grass and He cares for His people. 

I'll be praying for peace in the storm for you and please do the same for me. 

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