Faith in the Journey

faith

Last year I was invited by a friend to attend a welcome class for Bible Study Fellowship.  I went, and two years later, I am still loving it.  If you want a place that challenges you, that stretches you in your thinking, that makes you look at the Bible in a completely different way, and that provides you with an awesome fellowship opportunity, then I HIGHLY recommend Bible Study Fellowship, or BSF as we affectionately call it.

You see, it all started with a prayer.  Ever since I had moved back from Peru with my husband, I had felt disconnected. Sure, I had my family in the area, but I didn’t really have many friends.  (I had lived in Colorado for six years prior to living in Peru-suffice it to say I had not lived in the area since close to graduating high school.)  I didn’t have other women to talk to, to share my daily struggles with and vice versa.  So I prayed (you might begin to notice a reoccurring theme in my life and blog…).  “Please, Lord,” I prayed, “help me to connect with a group of like-minded women who will help me grow in my faith, who will hold me accountable.”  And shortly after I received the invitation from my friend to attend BSF.  (I am a firm believer that there are no coincidences; God plants an opportunity in our paths and our choices are to jump in with both feet, or to ignore God and His calling.  Believe me, ignoring God never works out very well.  His will gets done with or without you.  Been there, done that, not going back.)

BSF was the first step to me on the road to a deeper relationship with my Savior.  Prior to BSF,  I wanted a deeper relationship with God, but wasn’t sure how to go about it.  BSF pointed me in the right direction, and it continues to keep me on track to this day.

This year our study focuses on Moses and the Israelites journey out of Egypt to the Promised Land.  The distance from Egypt to the Promised Land was not that great in miles, yet it took the Israelites 40 years to make it there because they had much to learn prior to being ready to receive God’s promised blessing.  I can relate-I’ve done a little wandering around in the wilderness of my own.

At first glance, it’s easy to be critical of the Israelites.  After all, every other passage they’re complaining about something new!  “Thanks for raining down super-natural food from the sky God, but what we would really like is some meat.  Think you can make that happen?”  They saw God perform miracle after miracle (we’re talking water springing forth out of rocks and plagues being rained down on Egypt), and still they questioned him at every turn.

It’s easy to be critical of others, harder to see fault in ourselves.  How many times have I looked past the plank in my own eye to point out the speck of sawdust in another’s eye?*  At work (I work at a call center), it’s easy to become angry with people who call in and are rude.  If I’m being honest, I’ve even made fun of people after disconnecting from the conversation. “Can you believe that guy?  He was so rude, and had no clue what he was talking about.  What a dummy.” It’s easy to become defensive when someone is mean to us.  It’s easy for us to snap back out of anger.  Yet, Jesus teaches us that we need to love even our enemies.  Easier said than done.  However, how many times have I done the same thing as the rude customer on the phone?  So many times we are able to justify and rationalize our own anger.  I remember lashing out at a friend because some things she had said behind my back got back to me.  I felt justified in my anger.  How dare she say those things about me?  She had no right!  Yet how many times had I done the same thing?  I’m not talking about them behind their back, I would rationalize, I’m talking out my problem.  That darn plank, always clouding my vision.

If we were to be defined by moments such as these, none of us would stand a chance.  There are certainly plenty of instances recorded throughout the Old Testament of the Israelites screwing up (Golden Calf, anyone?) Yet it’s not those moments that define them.  The Israelites were defined as being God’s holy people, set apart to Him.  This is a distinction He gives to us, as well.  Even though the Israelites continued to screw up, like the gracious, forgiving Father He is, God continued to welcome His children back with open arms.  This is not to say that there were never consequences for their rebellion.  Good parents discipline their children so that they grow and mature.  This is what God did to the Israelites.  This is what God does to us.

Faith is a day to day struggle that is hard-fought, and never won of our own merit (Jesus accomplished for us what we could not do ourselves).  It involves constantly dying to ourselves, our anger, our will, OUR WAY.  It’s humbling.  It’s meant to be that way.

The best thing about faith?  It’s a gift from God.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  My prayer today?  Jesus, increase my faith.

 

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