the faith to go, the faith to stay

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In the course of being sick, I am daily confronted with the decision to stay or to go. Go to the party or stay at home. Go to the church service or stay at home. Have that friend over for lunch or cancel. The canceling of plans always feels like a “no”, like a negative thing, whereas “go” feels like a “yes”. Instinctively, one feels good; one feels bad. One feels like a victory, the other a failure.

I think it’s easy as a Christian to start to associate “going” as the faith-option, and “staying” or “resting” as the giving-up-on-faith option… or at least the “lesser-faith” option. It’s easy to think of it as a cop-out. However, both “resting” and “going” are godly principles, and both of those things require faith.

  • We see the instruction to rest throughout the Bible. It’s everywhere. “Be still and know that I’m God” (Psalm 46:10). “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31b). God even gave the Israelites instruction to rest for ¼ of the year. That’s right. When you add up the Sabbaths, the feasts and Holy Days… The Israelites rested for ¼ of the year.
  • And of course, the Bible is full of people who boldly followed God’s “impossible” instructions to “go!” – Moses commanding the Pharaoh to let God’s people go, and ultimately leading the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 2-15). Gideon weaning his army down (by God’s instruction) from 32,000 to 300 and then conquering 120,000 (Judges 7). Paul continuing in ministry despite shipwrecks, stonings, imprisonment.

Over the years, I have experienced the beauty of rest, as well as the beauty of doing something that is beyond my ability. I like both of those things.

When going — It takes faith to push through the fear of whether or not your body will actually make it. It takes faith to believe that even if you do crash, that God can cover your disappointment and bring you help. It takes faith to believe that His strength will sustain you when you have none. It takes faith to believe that He’s not limited by your limitations. It takes faith to believe that He will give you words to say to people even when your head is all cloudy. It takes faith to believe that He can bring fun in the midst of misery. It takes faith to believe that no matter how long you are able to “go”, that Jesus can use it for your good and the good of others.

When staying – It takes faith to push through the disappointment of not doing what was in your heart. It takes faith to believe that your relationships will be okay even when you’re not around much. It takes faith to believe that God will speak to you even when you don’t attend that church service or meeting because if He wants to say something to you, He knows how to say it in any setting. It takes faith to believe that though you’re only ever able to offer a little, it is enough and He knows what to do with it. It takes faith to believe that He knows how to cover over any people who you were supposed to be leading that night. It takes faith to believe that He can give you a rich, fulfilling life even when you’re stuck at home.

Oh my friends, both “staying” and “going” have endless possibilities for big faith stances. How wonderful to be confronted with our need for God. Honestly, I mean that. I hope to be well someday (and hopefully someday soon), but I never, never, never want to forget that I daily need Him. And being sick is a reminder of that. It brings me to ask the Lord for wisdom and direction every day.

So, I have come up with a saying in the last year. I really like it. Would you like to know my daily prayer? It goes, “Lord, would you like me to have the faith to go – believing that you will give me the strength and grace? OR, would you like me to have the faith to stay – believing that You know how to comfort me and that no one (me or others) will be robbed?”

Both are faith. Truly, both are faith. It is a faith-fight to go, and it is a faith-fight to stay.

Resting is a beautiful thing. “Rest” has over and over again been the answer and my instruction from the Lord the last seven years, and it has not come easily. I’m more of a “go” kind of person, but I have really enjoyed and been blessed by resting in God’s grace. Resting confronts me even more with my weakness. Resting is quiet and tender. Resting doesn’t have distractions in the same way. Resting has been the vehicle by which God has convinced me that He loves me for who I am, not what I do. Resting has been the vehicle by which God has convinced me that He sees me and knows how to bring peace and comfort into a turbulent situation. Resting has been the vehicle by which God has shown Himself strong for me by taking care of the people whom I felt needed me. Oh man, God is so good and faithful. He doesn’t want me to spin my wheels trying, trying, trying to make life work. Instead, He keeps speaking “rest” and bringing me help. It’s amazing. This is kingdom stuff.

So, let’s get to the practical, what about the MANY times that I don’t feel like I have an answer to my prayer? (And by answer – I mean “a sense of peace about what to do”). Such a good question, friend. There are two things that I do when I don’t feel like I have an answer from the Lord:

  1. I talk to someone who knows me well. I ask them to help me gauge what maybe I can’t see. That’s not bad or “less-good”, by the way. God means for us to be in relationships. God gave spiritual gifts in order that we supply what each other needs. God set up a system of discipleship, so that others can speak into our lives. It’s wise to ask for someone’s help – even in just wading through the muddiness. My person is usually my husband. Sometimes, I’ll ask a couple of other people. But, not surprisingly, these people often say, “Oh Kayli, really? Really? You can’t even stand up. It’s okay to stay home. No one would want you to push yourself like this. We’ll figure out a way for you to still get to partake. Let’s get you set up with a movie and a coffee, yeah?” Yeah. Thank you, Jesus, for people who can help us understand the grace to stay.
  2. And sometimes, I just pick one. I don’t labor over it. I let myself breathe easy… believing that it’s okay to switch plans. Believing that no matter what, God will take care for me. He’s not perplexed by any situation. He knows how to burst into any hard place. So, when we ask, and we don’t feel like we’ve heard from Him, then I believe that’s okay. I know that God knows how to get my attention. The good news is that the Bible promises that He’ll be faithful to us. The Bible promises that God is near, that He’ll never leave us. So, it’s okay. I’ll be okay.

Today, I’m hoping that this letter gives you a breath of fresh air – a reminder that you can demonstrate your faith many ways. I like that “going” includes more people. I like that “staying” is often just Him and me. There’s so much grace and comfort and joy and peace for us to live in. God is good, and His plans for us are good (Psalm 119:68). How securing is that?! How wonderful that God promises “good” in the midst of “hard”.

Whether you’re a fellow Lymie or not, life is full of extraordinarily difficult circumstances. The reality of it is that it’s hard. But there is a bigger, more true reality that is deeply filled with God’s goodness.

 

P.S. This post is mostly addressing the fact that faith can take multiple forms. But, I find myself wanting to do a Part II (hopefully soon) that is more of an actual Bible study on how to “hear from the Lord”.  In the meantime, I offer you this oh-so-very-encouraging-to-me reflection by one of the people who has most helped me, my old boss Daniel Brown:

HOW CAN I ‘HEAR’ JESUS’ VOICE BETTER?
“When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” -John 10:4

All of us who earnestly follow and surrender to Jesus want to hear Him speak—more and more, about anything and everything. His voice comforts like a shelter in a storm, like an unmoved landmark guiding our steps. We welcome His voice even if He is correcting or repositioning us like a coach calling out to us during a game. Once we know it’s Him speaking, we reply, “Have Your way in me.”

But we hesitate when we wonder, “Is that You, O Lord—or me?” If we’re not sure who’s speaking, if we question the source of that inner voice, uncertain if our brain or our King whispers counsel, we don’t want to commit ourselves to following.

Be encouraged that even if you sometimes feel badly about not being able to ‘hear’ God better, your very reluctance about saying/doing something, UNLESS you’re sure it’s something God is leading you in, confirms you as one of His own.

For most of us, most of the time, it isn’t the difficulty of what God asks us to surrender, do or say that makes it hard to obey; what makes choices difficult is not knowing if it is the voice of our Shepherd. So, how can we ‘hear’ His voice better?

From my spiritual journey, I offer two ‘helps’ for hearing better:
(1) Listen to the echoes. Jesus, the Word of God, mostly speaks through the written word of God. The more Bible verses you know, the more echoes of the Bible you will hear when Jesus speaks.
(2) Listen to the tone of voice. Jesus the Good Shepherd, who is gentle and humble in heart, mostly speaks tenderly, encouragingly and quite personally. He sounds like what He seems like in the gospels.

Alrighty, well thank you for reading my very long post. Till next time, friends!

 

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