Faithlessness lays the foundation for fear.
Faithlessness shows up in different ways in different people. God dug deep into my life in recent years to show the sometime shallowness of my faith, how my faith was almost more a culture that I had adapted to than a true surrender of myself to Him. I had grown to live my Christian life out of habit not humility, out of routine rather than desire, out of practice rather than passion.
Not long ago I passed through a very difficult season in my life. The goofy thing is, I can’t say why. I have five wonderful kids, an absolutely amazing husband, and I serve a great God in control of it all! My life is busy, but that’s no excuse. For whatever reason, for more than a year I really struggled emotionally. Many nights as I stared at the ceiling waiting for sleep to arrive I replayed the day’s events and stood as a harsh judge and jury, passing constant condemnation on myself. Condemned for not getting through all my homeschool plans, condemned for losing patience with my children, condemned for not keeping the house clean, condemned for not saving more money, condemned for not preparing better meals.
I had forgotten that “There is therefore now no condemnation toward those who are in Christ Jesus. For the Law of the Spirit, alive in Christ Jesus has set you free.” Yet I ignored His promise and condemned myself, for such petty things in light of eternity.
Through all of these struggles God revealed Himself to me in powerful ways. My intellectual understanding of Him and His Word grew dramatically. My love and reliance on Him increased daily, even while my feelings remained in disarray. Through that time, God didn’t say, “You’re doing okay! Don’t worry, be happy.” He said, “Trust me. Live for me, not your own accomplishments.” His measuring stick looks a lot different than ours.
One concept that God impressed upon me during that time was how faith and peace go hand in hand. Two perfect illustrations – Jesus in the storm, asleep on the boat (Mark 4), and Peter asleep between the two soldiers shortly before his pending execution (Acts 12). True faith in Him would bring peace, and sleep, regardless of the situation. Fear, growing from a lack of faith, keeps us awake. Pondering the ‘what-ifs’ and the shoulda-coulda-wouldas. We can play that game all night long, and always lose. Where was Jesus in the face of that incredible storm? Asleep! Where was Peter on the brink of death? Asleep! Not beating himself up for what he should have done differently, just resting in God’s perfect peace.
I began to trust God to give me the faith that I needed to have peace, to escape the fears, doubts, and discouragements that kept me from trusting Him in the day to day. He gently challenged me, “Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40) I trusted Him to truly love me in spite of my daily failures.
Around this time, we faced an incredibly stressful situation. Our future hung in the balance of uncertainty. The school that we had called home faced a financial crisis and the board was most likely voting to close the campus eliminating our jobs, and forcing us to move. Those weeks of uncertainty were incredible. Yet, through that very experience, God continued to call me to sleep, to peace, to complete faith in Him. After two months we found out that instead of closing they were reducing capacity and we would still have our jobs and homes, but before that decision was made God had sheltered me under His wing and I snuggled up in perfect peace regardless of the outcome.
The freedom that comes from faith, from walking daily in the Spirit, now brings me daily peace. Sometimes we have to go through those dark times to see God in a new light, to take the ‘next step’ in our Spiritual journey, for our children to learn as they see us struggle and grow. I would never be where I am today had it not been for that season of struggle.
So, now my days are perfect, I accomplish everything I set out to do, my children are well behaved and I never even need to feel less than the perfect mom, my house is spotless with everything in its place. You don’t believe that, right? No, my days are largely the same as they were before, with one significant below the surface difference: I have God’s peace in place of my guilt and judgment. God walked patiently with me through those trying times, and waited for me to surrender more of myself to Him.
While we face our challenges this week, whether it be cleaning up vomit while yet another mess is being made in another room, or making the most of the day when our homeschooling plans fall flat on their proverbial face, or looking around at the never ending piles of housework, let’s ask, as Jesus did, “Where is your faith?” When we find it, in Him, we find the peace to rest.
Go ahead, go to sleep.
And He said to them, “Why are you afraid?
How is it that you have no faith?”