By Trinda Jocelyn
Faith has been a concept I have always struggled with.
I have spent far too long battling with my misconceived notions of what faith is. Somehow, I have always thought that faith was something that is solely my responsibility, something I was going to have to develop on my own.
I was going to have to get this faith thing straightened out if I was going to reach my eternal home and perhaps I would stop feeling so darn guilty about my failure to live the picture of a faith filled life I had. My faith was not going to move pebbles, let alone mountains.
And then last week, we were sitting in Sunday morning class, working through Romans with several of our brothers and sisters, with Mr. Pippus at the helm, guiding the morning’s thoughts.
It is in this environment that I read a verse that may have profoundly changed that picture in my mind of a faith filled life. It gave me a new perspective on the old “faith can move mountains.”
My shift in thought happened in Romans chapter 12 verse 3;
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
Did you catch that bit at the end?
“In accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
Face-Palm. It’s right there. Someone slap me sideways!
He has given us this faith. It cannot be forced. It cannot be learned. We must accept it and allow it to transform us.
All these years I have been trying to force this faith thing and failing consistently, constantly, and miserably. Now, my understanding of faith feels like a scratch on the surface, but that sentence has put me on a path to learn much more and has set fire to my desire to accept that faith and allow it to work through me.
When I read that verse the way I did this particular time, I imagined that Christ may have thought of patting me gently on the head and saying out loud, “Finally, you are getting it.” Although if I were in His shoes, I might roll my eyes, slap me in the back of the head and announce, “That is what I have been trying to tell you, goober!”
Seriously though, maybe this didn’t flabbergast you, but it did me. I always try to over complicate the simplest of concepts. In this case, perhaps it is because it feels too good to be true. Why do we earthlings feel we can’t trust things that are “too good”?
The conversation that was happening in class that morning, and to be completely honest, the week before too, had really been speaking to my heart about relinquishing myself and to give up on forcing something that is only available through God’s giving hand and heart.
Transformation is something that comes as a gift and He has been whispering to me for some time to stop trying so hard because I think he is saying “…you will fail. This is not yours to create, it is mine to give.”
Maybe the Message says it more plainly:
“No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.”
I have dwelt on the verses in this passage in the past and carefully scolded myself for thinking too highly of myself at times, but that second part I have read straight passed, too busy with my self-chastising to pay good attention to those succeeding words.
The peace I have felt in this new-found knowledge has overwhelmed me, scared me a little, but mostly, it has given me hope and the understanding that I don’t need to be more. It tells me that
I am just the way I am meant to be, serving the purpose that was laid out for my life.