Monday, August 17, 2009

faith and trump cards

Lately I've been revisiting some thoughts on Hebrews 11 that I wrote about a few years ago. At the time, I was struck by the notion of the "even though" and the "because": Even though Abraham was way too old to have a kiddo, he became a father, because he believed that God would be faithful to his promise. In light of his because, Abraham overlooked a pretty big even though, and he experienced the power of God in a jaw-dropping way (see v. 11-12). As I read through Hebrews 11 this time, the notion amazed me all over again. This time, however, I was struck by choice these great men and women of faith had in the matter. I realized that the story could very well have gone like this instead: Even though God promised Abraham a son, Abraham remained childless, because he didn't believe God was powerful enough to overcome the fact that he was too dang old to have a kid. Or perhaps, even though God had called Moses to lead the people out of Egypt and had shown his power, Moses stayed because he feared the King's anger (see v.27). What made these people of faith remarkable, what made them worthy of remembrance some thousands of years later, was that they made God the trump card in their lives. They decided that God was going to be the because behind everything they did, and that everything else was going to have to be an even though.They were living examples of the call in verse 6: "But without faith it is impossible to please God, because everyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." They were confident that God existed, and they banked everything--and I mean everything--on his promise to reward those who seek him wholeheartedly.

At the moment, I find myself facing my own test of faith, my own point of decision as to what is even though and what is because. God has called me to return to my previous home to pick up the lifestyle ministry he had me doing there. He's made the call quite clear. At the moment, however, there is no job waiting for me there. A life, a ministry, a call...but no income or insurance or any of the other things that my culture tells me must be the trump cards when I am making my decisions. Here is where I choose how my story reads: 1) Even though God answered every prayer for clarity and called Katie to go, she stayed where she was, because she didn't know how she was going to pay for things, or 2) Even though she had no idea how she was going to pay for things, Katie went, because she believed that the same God who answered her prayer for clarity could answer her prayers for every other need. There should be no question that the second option is how I'd like to be remembered. And so I make my choice. I will go. I will allow God to be my trump card, my permanent because.

I recently shared this with my church, and someone asked how this applies when we aren't facing decisions as huge as a job change or relocation. It is a valid question, one which gave me pause. As I think about it, though, I realize how many smaller parts of my story--parts not worthy of their own chapter, perhaps, but important--still present me with the choice. And here is what I desire. Even though I often feel inadequate for the things God asks me to do, I do them because I believe that he meant it when he said my strength is in my weakness. Even though it is scary as hell to be vulnerable about the broken places in my life, I open myself up because believe in a God of redemption and freedom. Even though my actions might invite the ridicule of others, and might run counter to even my personal notion of logic, I live out the gospel the best that I can because I believe that love and truth are worth so much more than conformity. I want it to run down to the tiniest details: even though I think 'm right, I hold my tongue, because I believe in God's promise that love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8).

Truly seeking the Gospel, it seems, will run us up against a million points of decision. Impossible odds, unconventional behavior, seemingly insane decision making. To live that Gospel is to consider it all an even though, and to make God our non-negotiable Because. It is to stand on the truth that, "With man, this is impossible; But with God, all things are possible." All things. Every single one. Let's bank our lives on it.