“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
One summer, I sat on the chair at the kitchenette table next to my dad. Out of curiosity, I decided to ask him how his faith was. He gave me a simple and honest answer that surprised me. It was surprising because I hadn’t heard an adult give an answer like what he provided me with. He casually explained that it was hard because he always has to keep working on it. I have admired my dad for giving me that answer because he was also unknowingly reassuring me I wasn’t alone in my journey. I have no doubt he knew what I was asking.
Renee Swope, the author of this devotional, reminded her readers we have to constantly work on our faith. Just as with fitness, exercising once or twice will not make a body healthy. It also doesn’t mean an exemption from doctor visitations.
It is similar with our relationship with God. Reading His word isn’t effective until we check inwardly. Until we bow before the Lord and listen to His diagnosis of our hearts. He has a way of revealing that we need something repaired. He hates seeing us coming to Him falling to our knees in pieces.
I do fall before Him in pieces quite often. Sometimes I read His word without reflecting on it or how I can apply it in my life. He points out one thing I need repaired and I choose another, ignoring Him. Eventually, I listen to Him and I am able to move forward to the next step of growth.
Let us remember to take our hearts before the Lord and let Him examine us.
“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
1 Corinthians 12:18-20
We all wonder what it would be like to possess traits and characteristics we do not have. I will not deny that sometimes I wish I was taller or that I was more driven. It is so easy for me to see my flaws and what I lack. But honestly, I am not as hard on my physical features as I am to my mental and spiritual development. I have embraced all that I am physically, but wisdom is one of the things I seek most importantly. With wisdom, I know I can only seek by fearing the Lord. Because of this, I am difficult on myself when it comes to my personality I have yet to understand.
I do compare myself to other women who I think “have it together” or have matured. I know I am only seeing some parts of them. I haven’t seen their worsts. I haven’t seen them in their pits of despair. The women I do look up to are the ones I know or heard have fought battles, fallen, and restored repeatedly. The ones I compare myself to are those I have never seen fall. The ones who seem so perfect, but in their silent cries, they are falling.
I have to remind myself that each of us has tailored uniqueness. We must understand that the Lord gave us each other to learn and grow from one another. We were made incompletely perfect in the eyes of God for the reason that we may willingly grow into the beauty He created us to be.
“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
Psalm 103: 1-2
There are days when I am overwhelmed with stress that I find myself staring into the unknown for a long time. When I’m stressed out, I freeze. Other times, it takes away my appetite. But I do this until I notice myself getting into a pit of despair and disappointment. I do wake myself up and command my heart to get out of the situation. I pride myself for it. It takes awhile, but it’s enough time for me. I have been working on laying my burdens down to God instead of attempting to carry them on my own. When I feel overwhelmed with emotions, I am reminded to take heart, and to praise God. Even when it’s hard to, I command my heart to remember His goodness.
As it is written in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, give thanks in all circumstances. I will remember to breathe and lay it all to Him. I know He will get me out of any difficult situation. It might not be right away, but it will be easier to move forward giving my full trust to Him. Going into despair and pit of disappointment will lead me nowhere but discouraged. God is always good even when human eyes fail to see that.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7
Gideon became confident when he saw God’s power. But when God told him to decrease the number of men for battle, he became fearful. So he asked God for confirmation to keep His promise to save Israel. If I was in Gideon’s shoes, I would have done the same. I have asked God for signs and confirmations for certain doors I’ve been afraid to step into.
There was once a woman who told me that God has something big planned for me, but something is holding me back. She was right. I have many moments of being a wimp and I still am when given certain tasks. I picture myself as a child who’s being dragged by a parent because either I don’t want to go or I am afraid. I am no warrior. But I do know that God sees His children as warriors. I want to consider myself as a warrior. I look up to warriors in books, movies, and in real life. But we all know that in reality, even warriors fall sometimes.
I will always be amazed at how much God has confidence in us. He knows His truth give us the strength to make us turn from wimps to warriors. He knows we have weaknesses and yet, He sees us as so much more than conquerors.
“Those who know your name trust you, O Lord, because you have never deserted those who seek your help.”
When I decided to finally accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, I had to learn more about who He truly is. While living at the orphanage, one of the American staff once told the story of George Muller to us. As she was sharing, I was in awe that I had goosebumps. Since then, his story became my inspiration and reminder that God is truly a provider. It was not only because the Holy Bible said so, but I have also experienced it for myself. It doesn’t stop there. I have yet to learn the many names He possesses.
At times, I forget He is Emmanuel. There have been many instances I disregard the fact that He is with me whenever I feel alone because I cannot physically see Him. Just as I have never felt my birth parents’ closeness. Sometimes the hardest part of being a Christian for me is not physically seeing my Heavenly Father. At times, I miss Him. How can you miss someone you haven’t physically seen? But I do…just knowing He created me and known me my whole life. I have wished I could see God in person and truly cry in His arms. I know I can feel Him, but sometimes I look around hoping for His physical presence. But that’s the point of having faith; “having assurance about what we do not see”. As long as I know He is there and will never forsake me, that’s enough for me.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
The past is the hardest to forget especially if it was traumatic. I try not to dwell in it, but it is so difficult not to when you’ve only known pain. Certain doubts are triggered by certain memories. I don’t know how and why negative feelings can lead to my childhood memories when I clearly know they have no connection. Though I know fears and doubts only have one goal, I still let myself drown in them. I am an expert at self-pity, but I also know when I am doing it. I allow myself to get into this position then I wipe myself off and rise up.
I know if I let myself stay in it for too long, I will destroy myself. The past can damage my true identity if I let it. The past can blind me from the truth of who I truly am in the eyes of God— if I let it. The failed past relationships I’ve had do not dictate my worth. God can use these doubts to overcome my battles. Just as God used Gideon’s doubts to save Israel:
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
He will walk with me in my darkest past and come out victorious. I only have to listen to God and who I am to Him. God didn’t create me only to watch me destroy myself. He knows I am weak, but He also knows He is my strength.
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?”
Fifteen years ago, I was placed in an orphanage in the Philippines. It was there that I was introduced to the true identity of Jesus Christ. Growing up Catholic, of course, I knew who He was. But not the way I do now. When the staff started telling me who He is and what He has done since the beginning of time, I started to ask questions. As an 11 year old, I wondered why He says He loves us and yet, I was living in poverty and now an orphan. If He really loves us, why did I have to go through what I went through?
I know how it feels to be in Gideon’s shoes. Sometimes I still ask God why I went through so much hardships in life. God may not directly answer the ‘why’s,’ but He always shows me. He shows me His power. He shows me He has never forsaken me. I try to recall the moments when He interjected at the right time. Then I remind myself the importance of faith; it means knowing God’s help will come.
I have always been curious so I don’t think I’ll stop asking God questions. Renee Swope reminded me that it is never wrong to ask God as long as it doesn’t create distance between us. It might not always mean asking for answers, but for wisdom and understanding. I have never allowed it to question my belief. I remember my high school teacher once said that if you don’t start asking about your own faith then you are not growing. Since then, I have asked myself where I am spiritually to progress and focus on God more.
I understand life is full of ups and downs. I may not always be able to understand the ways of God, but I do know He will always be by my side. At times, it may be hard to lean on Him when life is hard, but I try to remember His promises to those who love and trust Him.