This faith Friday means the world to me. Missy was my first friend in college and I had the privilege to see her move from darkness to light. In only a few months, she has become a beacon for Christ and a complete powerhouse of faith. I am so lucky to learn from her daily!
It’s crazy how my thoughts on faith have changed so much in such a short time. Ask me what I thought of faith five months ago, I would have never attributed it to God. I would say faith is believing in myself and others to do what is best. While still true, now I’ve learned that faith is believing and trusting in GOD and that HE will provide what is best for me. “Do not conform to the ways of the world, instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind in Christ Jesus. Then you will be able to test and approve his will – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2). Just like he transformed my quick idea of faith, He’s transformed me when I wasn’t even searching for it. Jesus was praying for me, before I even knew His name. That’s pretty cool if you ask me.
I grew up in a nonreligious home in LA, had never heard the gospel, and had never been to church. With this, going to college in Texas, or “The Bible Belt”, was quickly eye opening. Little did I know this journey to the Lone Star State was a part of God’s journey in transforming me to run to Him. But the path didn’t start there. He has been walking beside me my whole life, just waiting for the right time to have me to run into His open arms. And freshman year was that time. I first heard someone talk about God the first week at school, where my first friend told me she was making a decision based on her faith in God. Faith? In God??? I basically choked on my hot cheetos. Hearing someone talk about God and having faith in God was so foreign to me, and to be honest freaked me out. But wow did God place that friend in my life for a reason (and big shocker, this was Liz). While I was really uncomfortable by what she was telling me, I look back and see this as a prime example that we aren’t supposed to be comfortable with God. A friend explained this verse to me, which captures it perfectly: “For I know the plans for you’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you future and hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11). She explained how it doesn’t say his plans will make us comfortable, but they are plans for good.
By halfway through second semester, I had gone to church for the first time, read through the book of Matthew, witnessed the community God provides for us, and finally accepted Christ in February 2016. While I accepted Jesus as my savior then, my faith really became my own this summer. Ask anyone and I would have told them the last place I wanted to be was home this summer. I didn’t have anywhere near the community I had at UT, no church, and my family didn’t know I was a Christian. Sounds fun right? I had no idea God had such greater blueprints in store. I had one friend I was going to rely heavily on over the summer, who I knew was very strong in her faith. Within days of being home, she broke it to me she was going to camp for 3 weeks, then moving to Oregon. I thought: God why? Why would you take the one person I share faith with at home away from me? I was shown clearly for the first time God’s plan come into action. I needed to be uncomfortable. I had the biggest cushion at UT of people I was sharing faith with, but didn’t know anything about my own faith. And boy did He provide. “He reached out and caught him. You of little faith, he said, why did you doubt? ”Matthew 14:31. When I was doubting my ability to be able to have a faith without community, He reached out and caught me. While community is so important, having it taken away has been one of God’s greatest gifts to me. I found myself going to the Word when I previously would have gone to a friend. I now talk to God where I would have previously talked to a fellow believer. Being uncomfortable is what faith is about. When you are uncomfortable, you learn to rely on God, to have faith in Him and learn that only true comfort can be found in Him. No worldly thing compares to the comfort and love He consistently showers us with.
While this summer has still been a struggle in being comfortable to be outward with my faith, I have been given more confidence and sparked more conversations because of the faith He has instilled in me. Conversations I would have been ashamed of or embarrassed by, I’m excited by. Even writing this is a big, new step, so bear with me! In one of my favorite songs “Gracious Redeemer”, it says “He made a way for us, He made a way for me”. While this way may not have been anything I expected, it is THE WAY. And having faith in His way is the greatest comfort you will ever receive. For we have a Lord, “our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:3). He had COMPASSION for me when I didn’t even know His name or believe in Him, yet He always COMFORTED, at UT by gracing me with incredible community, and at home with His constant love. He made me uncomfortable. He made me uncomfortable when Lizzey first told me about Him, He made me uncomfortable when I decided to go to church for the first time, He made me uncomfortable when he sent me home without a community in the summer. But through all of this discomfort, He gave me the greatest comfort of all – my faith. Paul closes 2 Corinthians 1 by saying, “It is by faith we stand firm”. And indeed it truly is.