Monday, April 20, 2009

Articles of Faith: V

Faith is incomplete without Trust. Trust is the heart of Faith, the face under the mask. Faith is the invisible path; Trust is the gumption to make the crossing. To act in Faith is passive without the strength of Trust to make the leap. Faith is believing God exists; Trust comes from knowing God loves us. The bond that holds Mrs. Faith and Mr. Trust together in perfect union is our love for God. If my bond is weak, the real question is not whether God loves me, but how much I love God.

My love for God is proven in my willingness to surrender, submit, and obey; to become fully dependent on Him. I can hear the shrill shriek of feminist liberals upon reading that last sentence. I recognize their voice, it was mine once. Surrender makes me a loser, submission makes me a slave, obedience begs for rebellion and dependency is needy. But these descriptions are true only in a man's world. In God's world, nothing could be further from the truth.

To become a willing servant of Christ requires intimacy, the kind that cannot be realized if it is blocked by pride, egoism, or self-serving agendas. To receive Him into my body and allow Him to remain for life, I must stripe away these layers of self-sufficiency and become an open vessel to be filled with His Love. Love between a man and a woman is a stream compared to the ocean of Love God has for us, the kind of Love we, as his children should have for Him. This love affair is just beginning for me, but already I have come to realize that I was serving God for selfish reasons. I have been serving to avoid hell, for protection against curses. I agreed to follow Christ because it's the only way to get to heaven. I surrendered my life so my cup would overflow with gifts and rewards. But what if God took away the promise of heaven? What if he announced that there is no hell? What if I got nothing out of the deal? What if my engine doesn't get fixed? Would I still love him? Will I still be willing to serve?

The answer to this question is directly linked to the strength of my faith. True love for God is unconditional; it turns simple faith into enthusiastic devotion to Jesus himself. Love says, "I delight to do they will," regardless of what I receive in return. I seek and serve Him just to be in His presence. This kind of love is measured by obedience. Jesus says, "If you love me, keep my commandments." Love perfects faith, it transforms hope of reward into the hope of likeness, for union with Him that I might know him. That is what made Christ so powerful in his work, he trusted God loved him, and he loved God unconditionally. Trust came easy for him, He was God! He walked in certainty, knowing the truth of God's love intimately. Before calming the storm, he did not cower on the boat; wring his hands with worry, cross his figures whispering "Oh, God, please let this work. I hope, I hope....." He commanded with authority, and it was done.

To have that level of trust requires a closeness I don't yet posses. It calls for regular contact, a well-established long-term relationship, one that reveals patterns upon which one comes "to rely on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence" ( The patterns are there, the experiences I have lived through are proof enough that God is with me and will not forsake me. But will he fix my car?

Yes. He did, and more. The manager of Tires Plus on Main Street replaced my engine, provided a rental car for a week while they put it in, and reimbursed me for the fee I was charged for changing my daughter's flight, as well as the cost of renting a car to get her to the airport. It is still a mystery as to how I lost the oil filter. I could assume that because they agreed to fix it that they were, in fact, responsible for the break down. But I wonder, was this a faith test? Did God answer my prayer - "help me to trust you" - through an act of mechanical failure? If I go with the natural assumption not much changes after the resolution: my car broke down, it was fixed, end of story. If I follow the supernatural possibility, however, the Lord blessed me with a proposal: do you, daughter of God, take this man, for better or worse, through sickness and in health, till death do you part? Mr. Trust is awfully handsome and he makes me feel beautiful, from the inside out. Yes, Lord, I will. "And they lived happily ever after" is not what I expect from this partnership, but I do anticipate a lifetime of mysteries that will bring me ever closer to God.

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