Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Risking on Faith

And Samuel prayed to the Lord.The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. ~Samuel 8:7

I have been trying to pinpoint why I felt so disturbed as I wrote about Church #2 for my last post. It was not that there was anything wrong with the church, perhaps more that there was so much right about it. The only initial impression that may have been a weakness is that few people that came up to introduce themselves to us as newcomers, but then the pastor was speaking to us immediately after the service ended, so they may have not wished to interrupt, and we, as well as half of them, had come into the service late so we did not get a chance to meet the people earlier.

What disturbed me is we were in a church that truly is led and seeks to be actively led by the Holy Spirit. It is such a contrast from where we had come. I felt the Lord's presence with me as I did praise and worship at our former church, but before that...um, church was sometimes just a thing we did because we should, even though I wanted to feel and see the evidence of God's presence. Most of the time, however, there was no refreshing of our spirits. Feeling the presence of the Lord churchwide was seldom, often without excitement or even anticipation. It had become not much more that a Christian social club and even in that it was failing as most of the people did not socialize outside of church events...well, at least not with us.

My husband mentioned that at times he felt we wasted four years of our lives, but he is just voicing his own emotions as we go through this transition and we know that we had been called there. The thing I have questioned is whether God had wanted us to stay so long. On the other hand, I know He had not called us out until recently. Being a logic-driven analytical person and seeking the illogical of whisperings, miracles, and wonders as Spirit-led Christian is complicated.

The rub is that we grew in our faith so much in our former church and we felt we were being used by God as an example, probably since we came there. They all had faith in God, but they endured on faith and few really risked on faith. We had also endured on faith when my husband lost his job, but God revealed to me which company would hire him; I asked God was that he would be hired before his last severance check and God said he would and he was. About two years later God asked us to risk on faith: there was the 40-day fast, doubling our tithe, then the blessing of a job offer from out of blue when not seeking one just before we ran out of money from the extra tithing—that was what God wanted from us there: to grow and show. In retrospect, the fast prepared us to take a risk on faith with our finances by doubling our tithe for six months and we were blessed so that we could continue to tithe the same amount and pay off our debt within two years. We acted on faith, we stepped out on our faith, and we were blessed because we grew in trusting our Lord. God gave the other church members the same opportunity to risk on faith whatever He wanted from them, as it would be different for each, but who heard His call? Only one other shared such a thing. No one else did and how does one keep such a thing secret when it happens? How does it glorify God when such things are kept secret?

Our former church wanted a pastor who would lead them, but this desire was not one to be satisfied. God even took that away from them and still they wanted a leader instead of hearing Him directly, instead of hearing the messages He sent them through the guest pastors, and instead of praising Him for how He brought together His messages in the music and speaking without communication between those pastors and me involved! Through the last months we were there, the Lord kept reminding me about the story of Samuel and how the people of Israel wanted a king like all the other nations. I felt I was being led by God every week I chose the songs and led praise and worship. Yet, I was like Samuel, displeased that they were not hearing God and accepting His leadership. I began getting opposition about the songs chosen and God was telling me that it was not I but He who they were rejecting. I was so torn; it literally was tearing me up to be in the middle and to watch it unfold before me.

Last night I realized that I still had something bothering me. I realized that even as I tried to stand strong, the opposition I received constantly made me question if I was hearing God or if I had gone off, as some religious leaders have, on the power of the position and I was the one claiming I was acting on God's leading when it really was just my own. (As I was writing the last sentence, I felt the Lord tell me something else. When the Lord's will is also your desire, His will is your own. There are times when you are desiring as God desires that it seems like you are racing along in the middle of the track and not bumping into any of the side rails. I suppose I feel more secure when I am bumping in the side rails. Perhaps I should ask for a very narrow track.) I fought against my own ego, trying to focus on what God wanted and every Sunday I would see the blessing, the confirmation, that I had listened and obeyed my Lord, so from where did the opposition come?

Who there prayed not for what they wanted but for what God wanted in song and worship? Who prayed that our service would please Him instead pleasing themselves? Who prayed and heard what God had to say on the matter and share it with us all, with me? This is what was written to me: "personally, I would like...." Where is God in this statement? Personally, I would have liked to take me and my personal desires out of the whole thing and just please my Lord...and I worked so hard at this, but in the end it came down to pleasing those who wanted it their way or pleasing my Lord. I chose Him. Which would they rather I have chosen?

Every week became a risk on faith. I had only a few voiced encouragements but no real confirmation that I was following my Lord's desires from the members within the church; confirmation came only from prayerful believers outside of the church and from the Lord. The church is people I respect, who had shared their love of the Lord, who had worshiped with us for four years. Because of that, their opposition and their silence made me doubt I was hearing my Lord far more than anything ever has my entire life. I lost confidence in my own faith and leadership. I doubted that I was hearing God or that I ever had. If this weekly risking on faith was a trial for me, I think I failed. I often wondered if our former pastor felt the same.

Yet, my husband tells me that he was proud what we did there and that he believes we have grown in faith from this experience. He talks about how he planned the Christmas Eve service and how he was going to do it one way, but the night before he could not sleep and felt a strong leading to change it so that it had a portion just for the children and then, without us knowing in advance, we had quite a few children that night, the confirmation from our Lord again. He said it was then that he began to really understand what I had been experiencing every week and how God confirmed what He wanted within the service. Those side rails are reassuring but they can be an ouchie when you begin going your own direction and bump into them.

I was talking to a friend recently and I was surprised at my own passion as I said that I wanted my daughter to see the works of God, to know them, and expect them. I want her to see that God's healings and miracles do not only happen in far away foreign countries for us to read about in books, that He does not hold back His gifts according to geography and every need is equal to Him as is every sin. I felt it was such a shame that three members of our former church had surgeries scheduled in the past few months and not one of them came up to the altar asking for prayer to be healed--yes, healed! They asked for prayer for their upcoming surgeries and healing after the surgery, but not one of them gave God the opportunity to be glorified and for the people to be blessed by receiving or seeing a miracle, for my daughter to witness their faith and God's work. They asked for prayer, of course, but they did not step out in faith, they did not risk. That is not the kind of faith I want for my daughter—actually, I do not want so little faith for myself either.

~ My Lord, You are my Source and my Guide. I wish to be what You need for me to be and risk on faith. Help me to want that even more. ~

1 comment:

  1. You know I was given the Samuel scripture too ~ when we were having all the trouble. I knew if I could find somewhere that valued the word & the Spirit equally there would God manifest in great power. Which is true ~ just not quite what I was expecting. lol ♥

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.