Saturday, April 24, 2010

Furnace Faith

By now, I'm sure most of you have gathered that I love my Lord and Savior and passionately share what He has done and is doing in my own life. I understand that some of my readers and friends are not believers but my hope is that while you may not share my faith that you do, in fact, share the mutual respect I have for you. I don't expect everyone to see the world through my eyes and with my heart but I do hope that regardless of what you believe we can put all differences aside and still love and respect each other as individuals.

I say this because I have been struggling with the recent need to defend my faith to others. I am more than happy to share why I personally believe that there is a God based on my own personal experiences with Him but I'm finding that in some cases I am not sharing but more defending my faith with others. Which has been challenging because I ultimately don't feel a need to defend myself when it comes to God, afterall, He is my defender! But when I am being attacked by opposition, my human reaction is to defend. I've always had a bit of a "firey" side in me, (I am Latin afterall) and I am learning how to harness that passion for good and not to let my mouth get ahead of my heart. My heart speaks with love, my mouth sometimes just speaks. It's something I know I will continue to struggle with but I hope that in time I will get better at using my heart before using my mouth.

It has been difficult to see friends decide that because they disagree with what you believe they can no longer be friends with you. You feel abandoned, hated, and let down. And this is one of the many reasons why I have complete faith and trust in God....because since the moment I chose to follow Him and His teachings, He has not once let me down, He has continuously loved me even when I didn't love Him or myself. We cannot put our faith in man because we will be disappointed every time.

I don't think people realize this about me...but while I grew up in a religious home with God-serving and loving parents I wasn't always faithful and I didn't always follow God and His word. I went through a time in my life where I wrote off God and everything I had ever been told or known. I am not blindly following Him because that is what someone told me I should do or because of superstition or ignorance. I follow Him because when I was at my lowest point in life, He was there. I had no one else to turn to and no where else to go so I got down on my knees after years of denying Him and said "God, I haven't talked to you in YEARS, but I don't know what else to do and I need you now." And from that moment until the present I have SEEN God working in my life. From now until the day I die I never have to see His face to know I have seen God and that He is real. He's like the wind, I cannot see the wind, but I see what the wind does. Likewise, I have never seen God, but I can see Him working in my own life and in the lives of others.

But you know, it wasn't what anyone told me and it really wasn't what anyone did that brought me to an understanding of God and how I developed my relationship with Him, it was me reaching a place of complete  humbleness. It was realizing that I not only wanted but needed something bigger than myself and that my soul would not be satisfied, my life here on Earth would not be complete without Him. And that's a place that no one can bring you to, no one can force you into and no one can fully explain, you simply have to experience it for yourself. It's a personal redemption that comes only with a willing heart. I had an unwilling heart for many years and will be the first to admit that it was pride that kept me from true understanding of God's love and peace. I truly believed that I didn't need anyone and that I had the whole world figured out. Sounds arrogant right? I was very arrogant to believe that I could put the stars in the sky, that I could create breath and the concept of love. All these things have been created and to deny that God is the Creator of all these things is denying where I came from and who I am. And that right there, is why I am so passionate about God. It's not that I want desperately to be right, but it's that in denying God, I would be denying myself and I simply cannot do that.

Again, I realize that some of you reading this are like "Whatever!" and that is perfectly fine. I am just sharing with you my personal experience so that you have a better idea of who I really am, not just on the surface, but deep inside. I am not perfect, I will never be perfect. People often assume that because I serve a God that is perfect that I need to be perfect or worse that I THINK I am perfect. I am flawed just like the rest. But I have nothing to hide...I want you to see that I don't have it all together, that I don't have all the answers because reality is...I don't. I don't pretend to know it all, but I know enough to have convictions that cannot be compromised.

My devotional entry for today is entitled "Furnace Faith". It talks about the lesson of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three Hewbrew children who refused to compromise their beliefs and were facing being thrown into a fiery furnace by the king. And this is what they told the king "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand...but even if He does not...we will not serve your gods." With the words, "even if He does not", they took their faith to a higher level. They knew God could prevent it, but not that His plan called for it in this instance. But they would rather die than deny or disappoint Him. And this is what I took away from this lesson: God can take you out of your situation or bring you through it. When He leaves you in it longer than you'd like to stay, He's developing - "furnace faith". And you have to ask yourself, "Can I take the heat?"

Furnace faith is dead to doubt and blind to impossibility. It makes the circumstances bearable and the future hopeful. Furnace faith believes that even if you do have to go through the fire, God will go through it with you. Listen to the words of the king who watched it all happen: "He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like the son of God." (Daniel 3:25) Furnace faith makes you as free in the fire of affliction as you are out of it. Furthermore, when your friends see the Lord in there with you, it'll convince them like nothing else.

So you see, faith is not simply for me, it is a tool to reach others. My job is not to convince you there is a God or to judge the choices you make, my role is to simply believe and obey. If you come to Christ as a result of my own faith then praise the Lord! But I am not capable of changing hearts and minds, I'm just capable of loving you to the Lord, whether you choose to believe is your own personal decision and regardless of what you decide, I will love you. I hope you all understand that.

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