Faithful despite the fear

What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? (Romans 3:3 ESV)

Our refrigerator helps tell the story of our lives. You can barely see the surface behind favorite photos of our kids, Christmas card photos of friends and families, and magnets representing vacations or craft times.

The side by the pantry sports two yellow stars that my husband and I added in January. Identical stars were probably in elementary classrooms all across America before the COVID-19 pandemic changed so much about our lives in the last few months. But ours aren’t from an old school project. Ours are from our pastor.

In one of her first sermons of 2020, she talked of how people sometimes choose a word as a theme or focus going into a new year. She thought it would be an interesting exercise for us to do as a congregation – receive a word that could be a touch point for our faith this year, and see what we had learned from it a few months later. We all chose a star without looking, praying that the word written there would be something of merit for us.

My word is faithfulness. And the further we get into 2020, the more I see that I would be hard pressed to find a word that better represents what I have needed this year.

  • Faithfulness in God’s direction as our daughter chose which college she’ll attend in the fall.
  • Faithfulness in His leading when I wanted to find a new ladies’ Bible study that works with my crazy work schedule.
  • Faithfulness in His provision when I stared at aisle after aisle of empty shelves when I tried to buy groceries.
  • Faithfulness in His protection as our son completes a 10-week summer internship in California.
  • Faithfulness in His calling as I turn back to writing for Him after years of keeping flash drives full of words and ideas tucked away while I focused on other things.

Some of these situations seem easy on the surface. But the truth is, these – and many other things – have made fear clench my heart and knot my stomach more times than I’d like to admit.

Fear? Of finding a Bible study or resurrecting writing projects?

Yes, fear. The older I get, the more I see that my biggest fears and insecurities often tie to things that seem simple because they’re the things I know God would want me to do. After all, why wouldn’t I feel confident that God would want me to go to Bible study?

My confidence in that is exactly right – because it’s not God who’s making me feel fearful or uncertain. Those confidence-busting thoughts and emotions are coming from the enemy. And they crop up at those times because the enemy knows exactly when and where to push my insecurity buttons to keep me from moving in the direction God wants.

But here’s one thing I know: my God’s faithfulness far outweighs any fears that the enemy might stir up in me. I might falter in my faithfulness to whatever He’s calling me to, but He will never falter in being faithful to me. Even on the days when I let the enemy get in my head too much.

My God will always – always – take away my fears, no matter how big or small they might be. I just have to go to Him in faith and trust Him to do the rest.

Father God, there are so many times when fear grips me so tightly I can hardly breathe. Remind me in those moments that You are the breath of life, the calm in the storm, the balm for my fears. Strengthen my faithfulness and help me trust You more each day. Amen.

Book Review: Keeping the Faith

I”m about halfway through a book that many people might be surprised to see me reading — Coming Back Stronger by Drew Brees (the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints). My husband got it for Christmas and has glanced through it, but said he probably won’t read it until football season was over. Of course, that was right after the Saints beat our Falcons when we were nearing playoff time …

It’s been an interesting read, especially in terms of how Brees has fought back from a rotator cuff tear that many people assumed he’d never fully overcome. The story definitely is about his football career and how one thing has led to another, but he’s also open about being a Christian and what a big part it plays in his life. It weaves football and his personal life together all along the way, so it’s interesting to see how each area affects the other.  He’s authentic about giving the credit for his successes and determination where it’s due: God.

When I finish it, I’m going to encourage our son to read it. He’ll love the inside look at football. I’m hoping he’ll also pick up on some good things related to living out your faith in real life, even when the world keeps knocking you down.

Here’s one of my favorite paragraphs so far:

Faith is a gift from God, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s not enough to have it. You’ve got to live it out, even when times are tough. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.’ In other words, don’t just say it; be it. (Coming Back Stronger by Drew Brees with Chris Fabry, c 2010, pg 134)

How true that is (and to think I found it in a book about football, LOL)! Faith is a gift from God, but it doesn’t do us (or anyone else) any good if we don’t put it into practice. Faith has to be exercised and tried out every day so it can keep growing stronger and support us. Otherwise it will shrink and shrivel and might not count for much of anything when we need it most.

One of my favorite Bible verses is Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (ESV). That’s my goal for this week — to practice keeping my faith in God, no matter what happens along the way, no matter what I can or can’t see. How about you?

 

Monday Musings: Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).

Our confidence comes, not by knowing God’s promises, but by believing them.

It’s late in the day to be posting, but this verse and thought have been on my mind, thanks to the calendar in my kitchen that I just flipped to February’s page. I’ve always loved the verse from Hebrews because it reminds me exactly what faith is — and what it isn’t. Faith isn’t making my plans and doing whatever I can to orchestrate them to fall in place. Faith isn’t agreeing with or having confidence in what I can see or touch right beside me.

Faith is believing — not just knowing about, but believing — what God says to be true. Not because the evidence slaps me in the face. Because I know enough about God to know His character and promises and place my belief and trust in them.

Knowing is one thing. Truly believing is quite another. But as hard as it might be (or maybe because of how hard it might be), that’s exactly what God asks of us. He’s proven Himself all through the ages to countless numbers of people. Who am I to think He won’t also be faithful to me when I love and follow Him?

Faith, sweet Lord, please give me faith — in the good times and bad, on smooth roads and rocky outcrops, when I feel the warmth of your smile and when my face grows cool because I’ve stepped too far away. You are the ever-present, almighty, sovereign, unwaveringly faithful God of all creation. You alone are worthy of my praise! You alone are worthy of my trust and belief. Show me how to draw closer to you and nurture my faith in your goodness every day. In the name of your precious Son Jesus I pray. Amen.