Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Narrowing Focus

Whenever we decide that we're trusting God, we have to figure out what we're trusting God for - and that doesn't mean having all of the details. It means making a choice about who we believe God is and what we believe about His faithfulness. 

Yesterday, I narrowed a recent choice down to having faith now and trusting God for the future...or being courageous now and having faith for the future. Courage...or trust. 

Either would be pleasing to God. There's not a wrong choice between those two. 

Often, when there's not a wrong choice, we can find that paralyzing. Torn between two good things, how are we ever supposed to choose? 

But we're looking at that wrong. It's true that we could stay in limbo forever if we're waiting on some additional key piece of data that will make our choice clear, but if we would simply choose one or the other, then we get to start adding additional data that is key to leaning on our faith. 

See, once I decide that I'm trusting God for courage today and having faith for tomorrow, then I can start flooding my heart and mind with examples of God's faithfulness through courage. I can read the stories in the Bible where characters had to act before they had all of the information, where God was faithful to reward courage. I can listen to the stories of my friends and hear courage in them. I can remember times in my life, prior to this one, where I wasn't certain but acted in faith anyway and where God was good to provide. I can start to build a reservoir of encouragement within me that includes all of the stories of God's faithfulness to the courageous.

The same is true if I choose to wait now in faith and trust God with the future. (I realize that using the word "trust" here can be a little confusing; we could also call this hope...or confident assurance.) As soon as I make this decision, I can start flooding my heart and mind with examples of God's faithfulness to those who have hope deferred. Those who have had to wait. I can read the Bible and see faith in waiting. I can listen to stories of my friends who have had to wait. I can think of times in my own life where I have chosen waiting over instant gratification and found God's goodness in that. 

Once I make a choice, whatever that choice is, I can lean into not only a knowable God, but a known God - the God who has already actually shown up for His people (and for me) in the exact way that I am trusting Him for now. 

This steadies my quivering soul.

I confess that making the decision isn't easy. I confess that it's one of the hardest things to do. We don't want to be a people who move without having all of the details first. But that's the thing about faith - when we move without knowing all of the details, the details start to fill in. First with one story, then another, and then all of a sudden, we have a picture of the fullness of God's glory and we see it; we see what we were looking for all along. 

It's paradoxical, it seems, but then, God is a God of paradox. 

And just for the record, we can use this principle before we make our decision, too, if we must. If you're trying to decide between moving or waiting, you can start to fill your heart with the stories you know of moving and waiting and discover that God is faithful in both. You can start to build up your reservoir of faith when you recognize how these types of stories have played out in the past. And then, you can choose which God your heart can trust most in this season...or maybe you choose which God your heart needs to trust most in this season. Maybe it's a great season for building up a weak area in your faith; maybe you need the confidence that a stronger area provides. 

The point is, we base our decisions on something concrete, something solid that we definitely know about God because of the stories we've heard about Him, or the ones that we have lived ourselves. It's never this blind, "I trust God!" declaration; it's always rooted in what we know about Him. In why we can trust Him. In what we can trust Him for

This is real faith. 

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