Maddy makes me understand the word faithful better. She'll put her life on hold to help a friend, fill everyone's life with better stories, and beg that everyone share theirs. She loves well, and consistently tries to understand the Lord as person, rather than idea. She is consistent, vibrant, and dedicated. And she's a stinking great writer to boot. What does my faith mean to me?
I would normally start answering this question by taking you through a general timeline of my life with Jesus. I would talk about how and when I was introduced to Jesus, the times I felt stagnant, the times I felt growth. I would tell you about the people who impacted me. The ways that Jesus slowly but surely peeled away the grave clothes, the old self, and revealed to me my new self, my new identity as a child of God. All of those are good things, but time is pressing, and God is doing things right now. Things I could have never dreamed up or imagined on my own (Habakkuk 1:5 " Look at the nations and watch- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.") God promises you and I many things, but my favorite among these is the promise of amazement.
Don't you hate that word? Amazing. So overused, worn out. It's lost its true meaning now that a cup of coffee, a new car, and an entire mountain range can all be hastily labeled "amazing." But I would like to propose that God, promising that we will "watch and be utterly amazed" intends for a feeling nothing short of its dictionary definition- "causing great surprise or sudden wonder."
If you identify yourself as a Christian, you know what it's like to doubt. You know what it's like to have a moment when you seemingly step outside of yourself and think, "is this really true?" "do I really believe this?" "does some God, some Father, really love me and look after me?" I think you would be lying to yourself if you haven't doubted before.
The reason for that is because it’s almost too good to be true. We know we are broken. I know more than anyone that I am a complete and utter mess. I am the least deserving of this thing called Eternal Life. But God sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth. Jesus was fully Man and fully God. He healed, He taught, He never once gave into Sin. Then He fulfilled what he came here to do. He took all the brokenness of the entire world upon his shoulders. Oh if I could put a weight to my brokenness and sin it would be an insurmountable quantity. Jesus graciously took that quantity for every single person who ever was, is, and will be on this earth, He left nobody out; nobody's sin was too much for Him. Nothing anyone could ever do would be too much for Him. He died the death we deserve, and then rose up out of the grave three days later. This Jesus took our Sin, better yet, defeated it. And He would do it a thousand times over even if it were just for you. He did this because He loves you.
See, this Jesus has left us with no choice but to stand in amazement. He left us no choice but to experience great surprise and sudden wonder. And our Father promises that He will do something in our days that we would not believe, even if we were told. The best part of it that I can’t even wrap my head around is that we don’t even deserve it! We are creatures that are “prone to wander, prone to leave the God we love” and we do it every single day! And He STILL loves us!! There is no greater joy than this.
I have seen God do incredible things in my years, an immense amount in the past year, and especially in the past few months. He has given me my identity, He has answered my prayers, He has given me a new confidence. He has brought opportunity after opportunity before me, leaving me with more joy every day. Story Time!! A good and almost laughable example of this is the day I started writing this post for Liz. For the first time since being back at school, I had a little anxiety (something God has been chipping at and making beautiful in me for years now). I felt lonely and I felt like all my friends had plans. My roommates were having people over, so I needed to get out and go to a coffee shop and start writing this. I went to Bennu but they were remodeling, and of course God wanted me specifically at Thunderbird, down the road so I went there. I walked in, ordered my coffee, and the barista, probably out of habit, asked me what I came there to work on. I told her I was working on a blog post about faith for my friend’s blog. She asked me what I meant. I told her “my friend asks her friends to write what their faith means to them. Most of the responses are related to the Christian faith. So I am going to write about my faith in Jesus, how He saved me, and the things He has done in my life over the years.” She told me that was encouraging to hear and that she was glad I came. Ten minutes later, she walked up to my table and set a piece of paper down with her info on it and a line on the bottom that read, “I love Jesus, too!” She asked me to send her my writing when I was done. Instead, after I finished the rough draft, I went up to the counter and read it to her. We talked about it, talked about our home churches, and she invited me to come to her women’s bible study on Thursday mornings at 7:00. Her name is Kamryn, and since then we have had coffee, I have been to two of the bible studies, and one of the church services at her church. I love the women that meet on Thursdays, and I’m eager to attend her church again this Sunday. Little does Kamryn know I was feeling lonely that day I walked in. Little does she know I had been praying for a women’s group not associated with my church or younglife. Little did she know she was being used as a vessel for God to answer my prayers and ultimately cause amazement. I left the coffee shop that night with a grin on my face and tears in my eyes. I got in my car and laughed. I couldn’t believe how God had surprised me, how He had so specifically answered my prayers. It was one of the many times lately that I felt so underserving but so grateful. And being God, you can guess He wasn’t done there. I called my sister on the way home to tell her what happened (the joy He gives is always worth telling). To my surprise, she had gone through a similar day of anxiety, uneasiness, and loneliness. She told me that story was so encouraging, she even cried while on the phone. God. Loves. You. He chases you, does things to grab your attention and better yet, He does things to bring you amazement. He doesn’t promise amazement all the time, in fact He tells us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
To me, there is nothing I would rather have faith in. Believe in. Trust in. Put my hope in. Ultimately, there is nothing and no one I would rather devote my life to. Committing my life to Christ and having faith in him to me, means waking up every morning, and being utterly amazed. Sitting up in my bed and being surprised by the work he has done and the work he is doing. Having sudden wonder at how someone can Love the way he Loves me. It means waking up and knowing I am promised infinitely more than what this world can offer.
He has freely given us more than we could ever dream, when we know we are the least deserving. What more could I ask for really? And because of that, I long to be with Him. I seek to follow Him. He leaves me with no choice but to have messy and beautiful faith in Him.