Friday, March 18, 2016

Self and the Savior

Here is the real challenge of faith: it's not so much that I take God at His Word and believe that He is who He says He is.

The real challenge of faith is that if I believe God is who He says He is, then I must also believe that I am who He says I am.

For some reason, it's not so difficult to believe what God says about Himself. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present. He loves me with an undying love. He sent His Son into the world by a pregnant virgin, lived as a man among men for thirty-ish years, was crucified by a reigning government, was buried, was resurrected on the third day, appeared to hundreds of people, and ascended again into the Heavens. He appeared to ancient Israel as smoke and fire. He called Moses to a burning bush. He broke a loaf of bread into over 10,000 pieces, split two fish into nearly as many, gave sight to blind men, and loosed the tongue of the mute.

He created the entire world, all of creation, in just six days, first creating forms in the void and then creating forms to fill those forms. He created man in His own image, and He created woman to serve, live, and love alongside man. He sent rains and flooded His entire creation, save one small remnant in a boat, and then threw a rainbow into the sky as a reminder of His promise - one of many promises - to His people. He raised dry bones out of a desert and brought them back to life. He got a donkey to speak to a prophet who wasn't listening to His own words.

To all of this, I would say, unequivocally, yes. Absolutely yes. Without hesitation, yes. This is my God. This is who He says He is, and I take Him at His word.

But then, He starts to say some other things. Things're beautiful. You're intelligent. You're capable. Through you, I will work this certain measure of my ministry among the world. You will be the person who will be My presence to this people. You will comfort them, encourage them, hold their hands, mourn with them, and it will be something real that you are doing. It will matter. Not only to Me, but to these people.

He says things like, you can. Whatever I am calling you to do, you are capable of doing. I am making you capable. I am making it possible for you because it is important to Me.

Not one of these things is inherently more impossible than any of the things which I so easily believe about my God. Yet every single one is harder to believe.

It's harder to believe that I might be beautiful than it is to believe that two thousand years ago, there was a pregnant virgin.

It's harder to believe that I can do anything than that God created everything in six days.

It's harder to believe that I could be of any value either to my God or to my fellow man than it is to believe that God drew dry bones together out of the desert and made them dance.

It's harder to believe, but no less important. For if I claim to take God at His Word, I must take Him at all of it, including those words He's spoken about me.

There are days when this feels like it should probably be easy. It takes my breath away, but of course, it's true - God is using me. These are, generally, the days in which nothing so particular is required of me. It's a bit easier to believe that God is making it possible for me to do something when I don't actually have to do it. But on those days when I'm standing on the edge of where God called me, and it's clear He wants me to take the next step, I don't know that there's been a time that I haven't felt like that very next step is the one off the edge of the cliff. It's much harder to believe that God has created me to do this thing when I'm face-to-face with the thing God has created me to do.

At the same time, I can't possibly imagine anything else. I can't fathom doing anything else for God than this beautiful thing that He has called me to do, whether I believe it or not. Whether it seems impossible or not.

That is the great paradox of faith.

It's also the challenge.

So you take God at His Word, but do you take Him at all of it? Is it easier for you, like me, to believe in the Savior than in the self? What would it mean if you took God at His Word about you? What if you really are all the things He says you are? 

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