Friday, June 14, 2019

Chapters of My Life- Faith Lessons

     Life has not been easy for me of late. I have had to fight battles every single day. Most of these battles are because of me. To tell you the truth, I was becoming weary. I was losing hope and searching for an easier way. But easy never leads to good- it always leads to shattered dreams and shattered hopes. As I walk out this life of faith with my Lord, I am learning many things about myself, about the old man still living inside of me. I am learning to become the woman I was always intended to be.
     I have been praying diligently for the Lord to help me, to guide me and to lead me. I have prayed for His provision, His protection and His covering. I have prayed for His grace over and over again. I fall every day. I fall down and I fail Him. But I am learning that no matter how many times I do fall, He gives me the strength to get back up again. He gives me the strength to keep fighting no matter how hard it may seem.
     I thought I had it all together you see. I thought I new what I was doing, where I was going and the steps I needed to take to get me there. I was positive that I was being the best me I could be. But one thing I have learned, and I say this with all humility- never be so confident that you forget the God who purposed and planned the way for you. Never be so confident in yourself; your plans, and what you think is best for you. Because in the end, the Only One who truly knows me is the Only One who knows what is best for me.
     Sometimes I do not understand why He is leading me the way He is. Why I am experiencing the things I am experiencing, the hurt, the pain, the sorrow and the disappointed hopes. But He keeps me going, He keeps waking me up again and again, reminding me that He is the God of me.
     Yesterday, He answered a prayer for me. I woke up with a peace that was indescribable. It was like for the first time in many months I had peace about where I was, what I was doing, and where I was going. I was not worried about the day, and what it might bring. I was at peace; knowing that my God was taking care of me. Life has not been easy, but then again, He never promised it would be.
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      Just a few years ago, I thought I had it all together. I was doing all the right things. I was attending church, leading bible studies, writing blogs, and all sorts of things. I had a business- I was going places. Then, in the blink of an eye, it all came crashing down around me. I made some bad choices, and found myself in a place where I had no one to blame but me. I thought I knew where I was going. I had envisioned my future and I was positive that God was going to give it to me. What I didn't see was the enemy, crouching at my door, waiting to pounce upon me. If you get nothing else out of what I write today, I pray you get this- never be so confident in yourself that you lose sight of what is most important in this life. My faith was not in the One who created me, my confidence was in me and what I thought I could be.
     Today, I am at peace in my solitude, I am at peace not only with my God, but I am at peace with me. I do not think I quite understand the magnitude of what that means yet, but I am confident that He is showing me and teaching me how to continue to be at peace. I am learning what it means to have faith; not in my strength, but in His. I know the road ahead is paved with many trials and tribulations, and it will not be easy. I will be tested, tempted and most certainly I will fall. But He is surrounding me, protecting me and hedging me into the Narrow Way. The broad way is the easy way. It is the way we take when we want to give up, when the battle gets to hard and we are surrounded by enemies. It is the way that seems right, but in the end, it is the way that leads to destruction. Destruction of dreams, hopes and most importantly our faith.
     I have been thinking about Job quite a bit lately, and finding myself much like him. Job was a righteous man, everyone thought so. His friends thought he was, because they told him that he had fallen from his righteous standing; that he had sinned. There was no other reason for God to cause all these things to happen to him if he had not done something to cause it. They encouraged him to confess his sins, and just admit that he was wrong. But Job stuck to his guns, he defended himself and his integrity. What Job could not see, and what his friends failed to see was that God allowed Job to be tested. He allowed the enemy to cause these events to happen so that Job's faith would no longer be in his righteousness, but in God's alone.
     I have had to be dependent upon God for everything this past month. I have had to trust that He is making a way for me. The enemy wants me to give up, to stop fighting and just go back to doing the easy things- walking by my own strength. But God reminds me everyday that He is enough. The old man in me wants to just give up. The old man in me wants to go back to doing what was fun and made me feel good about myself. But my God reminds me that my worth, my value and even my strength comes only from Him. He is making me the best me I can be. I just have to have faith.
     Faith is a misunderstood term I think. I am learning that faith does not plan and it does not always mean I will be prepared. Faith means I choose what I believe is God's best for me, and I walk it out. Faith means I tell the old man to hush, and I step out in hope that my God will make a way for me. Faith does what is right, even when all I want to do is wrong. Faith is the weapon I use to battle the feelings of doubt and fear. Faith is the lamp God my Father gives me to see the next step.
     I have no idea what the future holds for me. I have no idea what tomorrow may bring. But Faith doesn't ask me to have all the answers, it just encourages me to trust in the One who does. The peace that I sought for so many years is starting to become a part of me. I am beginning to understand that there is a place and a purpose for everything that happens to me. I am beginning to understand that Faith doesn't plan it's way. Faith hopes that the way it is going leads to the promises He has made to me.
     Faith is personal. Faith is intimate. Faith is the hope that lives within me and it is by Faith that He works through me. If I say I walk by Faith, then why am I making the plans, setting the goals and mapping out the strategy to get there? I have said this many times in the past, but today, I think I finally understand- "God does not promise us tomorrow, He only promises us today." Faith does not promise us anything past today. All I can do is have faith that the choices and decisions I make will please my Father in Heaven and He will give me another day. But I find myself making the plans, making promises to myself that I rarely keep, and praying that God will bless them and make them all come to pass.
     But Psalm 37 reminds me that faith is not in what I want, but in the life God has prepared for me. If I delight myself in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart. I am not saying you can't have hopes and dreams. What I think we do not understand is that faith doesn't put its hope into self, it puts it hope into the One who promises life for me. If I keep focusing on tomorrow, I will miss the blessings of today. Faith sees today. Faith hopes in His promises, but knows it has to live it out today. Faith takes steps, not leaps. Faith doesn't run, it walks. Faith doesn't worry, it hopes. Faith is hope that the choice you just made will lead you to the peaceful place God has prepared for you; and it doesn't worry if the choice was right or wrong. Faith trusts that no matter what God has prepared this day for me, even if I made the wrong choice.
     Jesus teaches us this kind of faith in Matthew 6:25-34. He teaches us to seek His kingdom and then all these things we desire and hope for will be added unto us. All the things I want for my life, and the things that I need to survive, He knows them all. He knows I have need of food, shelter, a job, a car, a life. Faith trusts that He is making a way for them all. Faith trusts that no matter what happens, He has prepared this way for me and all I need to do is walk in His grace.
   (Philippians 3:12-16)  I have hopes and I have dreams, there is nothing wrong with having these. I have envisioned a life for myself, a place I want to be, but in the end, the only vision I need is sitting right here with me. Every moment of every single day. My Jesus is truly all the vision I need.
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 I do not know where this road I am on will lead, but I know the One who is leading me, and right now, that is enough for me. That my friend is Faith. Faith in Him, and His sovereignty over me, and most importantly His everlasting love for me. I am going to make mistakes, I am going to make the wrong choices; but Faith doesn't hold onto regrets. It lets them go and keeps pressing toward the mark, toward the hope of His promises being fulfilled in me.
      Today, at this very moment, all I can do is be the best I can be for the One who bled and died for me. I am going to fail, and I am most certainly going to fall, but Faith reminds me to not give up; even though my enemies may encamp around me, seeking to bring me back down to where I once was; to the person I never thought I would be. Even though the battle rages and life gets hard- I  cannot give up on the hope that one day, He who promised me will fulfill all He has prepared for me. He created this journey for me, and I am going to give Him my best, and trust that whatever choices, decisions or paths I take, He is leading me in the right way. He will work it all out for my good and His glory.
     The road ahead is a hard one, and I will be tested, tempted and I will most likely fail Him more than a few times; but I will choose to believe His word to me- that He has prepared this way for me. "For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which  God has prepared beforehand, that we may walk in them." Ephesians 2:10. Today is what He has given me, my yesterdays are gone- forgiven, forgotten, and I am going to press on. I cannot go back, and believe me, I don't want to; I just want to be the best me I can be, and trust Him who is leading me.
     I have a choice, every single day, I have a choice to trust and have faith, to press on and keep walking. I have a choice to follow His leading, or trust in my own way. Today I choose Him, and I hope and pray I can be the best me He has created me to be, walking by faith into what He has prepared for me. I have no other choice but to choose a life of Faith, and that my friend, that is enough for me. Amen?