Molding a lump of clay

Molding a lump of clay
I am a work in progress, molded by my Maker, refined by His fire, shaped with His love. Walk the journey with me.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

(trying to) believe in the Promises of God

I'm sitting at the crossroads again, not sure which way to go. God made me a promise, but the fulfillment thereof is not yet.

In response to one of my many queries, God said that to wait for His promise is to receive Isaac, but to take another route to the fulfillment of God's promise is to receive Ishmael. In other it my way and forfeit the true prize; let God do it His way in His timing and receive His promise.

The challenge for me at the moment is that there's a third way, a middle road between Isaac and Ishmael. And I can't decide whether it's a semi-Isaac or a semi-Ishmael or something altogether different.

Yet God was pretty clear in His promise. It's my puddle of faith that's muddy.

I know I'm not alone in trying to unravel the gnarled ball of yarn that is faith in God's promises. All sorts of things contribute to the tangled knot. The two I'm dealing with in this season are:

  • Questions of whether or not I heard God correctly. This doubt goes right back to the Garden of Eden when satan craftily asked Eve, "Did God really say..."

  • Questions of whether or not God's promise is actually my own desire masquerading as Truth. When the Word of the Lord is something I would never have thought of or don't particularly enjoy (ie. 'do a one-day fast every week'), it's easier to believe it's from God because it certainly isn't MY idea. But when the Word of the Lord sounds very much like my deepest dream, it's easier to suspect the Word may be nothing more than my longings.

Can God do what He says He will do?

Will He do it in my case?
Yes, if He said He would, then He will.

Did He say He would?
I think so. 

But what if He didn't?
Therein lies the rub. 
Therein lies the temptation
 to doubt my ability to hear God, 
which affects my belief that 
God can make Himself heard.

If I believe God speaks, and I believe God can make Himself heard above the groaning of the world, and in the same breath I doubt whether I heard him or not, then it undermines my belief that He can make Himself heard, which undermines my belief that I can hear God, which potentially undermines my belief that God speaks. See the danger?

What I must remember is this:
God speaks.
God wants to communicate with me.
God is bigger than my ability to hear.

God can and will make His ways known to the one who is willing to know them.
And follow them.
Which is the harder part. 

If God makes His way known, and I choose not to follow it, is the wrong with God for not opening the door sooner, or with me for not being patient to wait for the door to open?

Yes, that's how I feel. It's like I'm in a room with 3 doors: the door marked 'Isaac' is closed; the door marked 'Ishmael' stands fully opened; the door in the middle is ajar.

Which door?
"Wait for Isaac!" my heart cries.

"But what if the middle door leads to Isaac?" my brain counters.

"Is that what God is saying?" my heart asks.

So I sit on the floor in the room before the doors and wait.

Is this a test of faith?

But even more to the point, I believe it's a test of faithfulness. God's faithfulness to fulfill His promise; my faithfulness to wait for Him to do it His way.

How painful is the waiting! In the beginning I had peace. Now hope wavers like a candle flickering in the wind. It struggles to stay burning, to fight the good fight, to never give up. But the wind blows stronger and the rain spits and the candle burns lower.
Does God know the length of my wick?

I want to please God with unwavering faith; I want it to be credited to me as righteousness. I've asked Him many times to increase my faith, and I suspect this is how He does testing it.
By making it wait. 

Faith isn't faith unless it believes in something only God can do and trusts Him to do it. But it's costly, that kind of faith. It separates marrow from bone and gets to the heart of the matter...what do I believe about the nature and character of God?

Corrie ten Boom said, "Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God."

Do I know God enough to trust Him with the future of my deepest dream?
I hope so.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen."

Have I seen God at work in my life?
Most definitely. Without a doubt.

Perhaps most compelling of all is the anonymous quote scratched into the cement wall in Auschwitz concentration camp by a Jewish prisoner:
"I believe in the sun, even when it's not shining,
I believe in love, even when I don't feel it,
I believe in God, even when He is silent."

I guess the real question isn't whether or not God is faithful to fulfill His promises; the real question is do I believe God is faithful to fulfill His promises.

Based on how far God has brought me, and the work He has done in my life, I have to say 'yes. God can do all that He says He can do, and He will fulfill His promises in my life.'

Let Your will be done, Lord.


Keith & Mandy Briant said...

A year ago we moved house. We had to move for family reasons and couldn't find a suitable house In the immediate area. All we knew is that we had to move and it was right. We had no leading as to where. After 8 months of searching which involved 3 unsuccessful attempts at selecting a house, we found somewhere suitable, made an offer and were in within weeks. We knew no one in the area, had no church and not the faintest idea as to why we had been led there.

It was a further 6 months before we started to see God's purposes for being there and after a further 6 months, that is still unfolding.

During this journey it was a massive exercise in learning patience and dealing with a great deal of frustration, God only really directly told us one thing - that He would show us enough to enable us to take the next step. We never saw any further down the path than that.

Faith played a huge part, but there was something deeper. He taught us what it was to really trust Him. To trust Him because our whole future depended on it. To trust Him knowing that even if we had no idea what was going on, God did and that knowledge was enough for us to keep moving forward.

Beth Gidet said...

I recognize your dilemna completely! I know what you're talking about because I've walked that road before (and still do!).
A verse that really reassures and strengthens me when I am dithering and wavering in front of the "three doors" is: "The sheep follow Him because they KNOW His voice" and "My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me" (John 10 v. 4 and 27). There is such assurance and conviction in the voice of Jesus..."they know My voice"! It always comforts me to know that however hard of hearing or fickle I may be, I nevertheless DO know His voice because He tells me that I do! So I just doggedly carry on in faith, believing what my heart tells me because I know that in some mysterious way, it's the voice of My Shepherd!
So hang on in there and wait in front of the "Isaac" door!

Michele M. said...

2 things:

1) God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.

2) Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord. Luke 1:45

I heard something from the Lord over a year ago now and have seen nothing to even show that it is on the way to being fulfilled. And I think to myself...'Did God really say?'

I also think, regarding #2 above, 'Well, yeah, Mary was visited by an Angel. So of course she's going to believe."

Anyway, just food for thought :)

Praying for you Vikki. It was such a pleasure to meet you. And you may not even realize but the Lord spoke encouraging words of wisdom to me through both you & John. Thank you!

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