We start asking that question just about a year from the time we say our very first word. Question after question rolls off our childhood tongues and later from our worried adult hearts.
I never truly stopped questioning things. Part of that is a grasp for a sense of control–the result of thickened skin, of protective walls that I’ve hedged around myself in response to hurt. Trying to map out my future is like a defense mechanism, a way for me to prepare myself for what’s coming, in the hopes that I might dodge hurtful situations.
What will my life look like?
God, how will you do it?
And when things don’t go how I expect:
Lord, why is this the direction my life is going? Show me the lesson, teach me the meaning, the point behind this. Because in this moment I can’t find it on my own. It feels like I’ve been hurt so much even when I thought that I was doing the right thing. If I could sum up the book of Job (who in the face of suffering struggles with many of the same questions) in one word, I would choose the word faith.
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?….Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?”
The Lord powerfully reminds Job who is in control of the universe. He asks Job rest in the fact that the Lord is in control, to remember that He holds Job’s life in His very hands. How much faith that takes!
God’s plans for us are exactly that.. GOD’s plans. Not my plans. He knows our first breath to our last and every moment in between. If you’ve grown up in the church you’ve been fed this theme, this idea that we should find rest in the fact that God knows our future, many times before. It takes A LOT of faith to sit back, to never question, to wait, and to trust in plans that you cannot see.
Lately, I’ve been pondering the idea of vulnerability. And faith, I think, is vulnerable. Completely giving up all control–dropping all expectations and questions–well that’s a dangerous business! We’re asked to produce these massive amounts of faith out of broken and weak lives. In these lives that have been touched by broken promises, by disappointment, and copious amounts of pain, where is this strong faith supposed to come from? Because Lord knows when I’m struggling through something, there’s times I don’t feel like I have an ounce of strength left in my body.
The faith that trusting in God’s plans requires doesn’t come from our broken lives, it must come from outside of them. This kind of faith is a gift. And it’s a gift that only God can give. The song “Give Me Faith” speaks directly into this,
I need you to soften my heart
And break me apart
I need you to pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of meAll I am, I surrenderGive me faith to trust what you say
That you’re good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life‘Cause I may be weak
But Your spirit strong in meMy flesh may fail
My God you never willI may be weak
But Your spirit strong in meMy flesh may fail
My God you never will-Elevation Worship, Give Me Faith
On our own we could never sum up the amount of faith that God is asking us to have, the kind of faith that we need to fully trust His plans. It’s by being vulnerable, by stepping completely aside, that we receive this strength. So while it might seem radical for me to say that faith is vulnerable, I say it with the realization that it is because faith is vulnerable that faith becomes strength. Our flesh fails. It’s weak and broken. Leaning on the gift of faith we recognize that we do not have to do it on our own. That Jesus Christ who lives in us, empowers us to have the faith necessary to fully lean on all of God’s promises. It’s terrifying to step aside and to surrender. But it is this motion, this response that allows the gift of faith to be enacted in our lives.
I’ve been wrong about what I thought the Lord was doing in my life. There’s times when I’ve been so sure of things, only to find that my assurances were moving in a different direction than God’s. This is the ugly part when vulnerability can hurt. But the beautiful thing about faith is that it is not limited. It starts again and again each day. Giving our lives to Christ means that we must rust what He says continually, not only when we think we know what His plan is. It means that even when we are wrong, when our flesh fails, we do not start questioning our God. Where faith surrenders complete control, assurances of love fill our lives. His Spirit is strong in us, no matter our weakness. Ask God for continual renewal of strength this month. Ask Him for that unending and unfailing faith– the faith that is vulnerable and raw, the faith that can surrender everything over to Him. Ask for these things, and I suspect you’ll start to see your life shaped in ways you never would have before imagined. God has a funny way of expanding our little minds to reveal big things:)