Faith is a journey. As much as I hate little cliché sayings, this one is 100% true. Faith in Christ isn’t something you experience once and put on the shelf. Your faith isn’t something that you talk about in the past tense, “oh that time when I had faith…”. Faith is present, and it’s alive- it’s what makes us come alive.
At times I forget this little fact, and when I do, my life becomes very exhausting. I become very anxious “Why does He feel so far away?”. I become ungrateful, “If I was somewhere else, doing something different, with different people, then He would be closer.” I blame my surroundings for my “lack” of faith, when- although a big factor, my surroundings cannot take away my faith.
If faith is a journey, we could compare it to a road trip, right? We get in the car all excited- we have everything we perceive we could need. We’ve got the snacks and map, we have our friends, we have music, fuel, excitement, and we’re filled with passion and vision “This trip is going to be awesome!” We yell out that “This is about the journey, not the destination!” It starts off great- we know where we are as we are leaving our own driveways. We know our town, so we don’t even really need the map to direct us. The tank is full, the snacks are fresh, we are happy!
Somewhere along the line though, we get lost. We take the wrong turn and end up off the map. In our mind, we may as well be in the middle of India, that’s how lost we are. But what’s generally the first thing you do when you’re lost? If you’re not a man, you pick up the map or jump to Google maps to find out where you are, so that you know where to go. You find your way again, and then you head out, knowing that getting lost a little is all part of the journey. Sometimes you learn the most about your friends and your surroundings by being a bit lost, even though no one really tries to get lost.
How similar is your faith, then? If your faith is like a road trip, there will be times when you feel empty and frustrated. You’ll feel sick of the people around you, you’ll feel like you took a few too many wrong turns, and you’ll definitely feel far from God. When you don’t see Him beside you, it’s easy to think He’s not there. But just like in your car, just because you can’t see the coast doesn’t mean you won’t at some point. You know you’re on the way, and sometimes you need to keep going because the map says you’re on the right road, whether you feel like it’s right or not.
Long story short, faith is hard. Trusting in Someone you can’t see can be difficult, and following Someone who wants to teach you how to be wise and make wise choices is harder than following a handbook or rules. There are many times where I feel far from God, but like those cheesy, cliché church signs say, “When you feel far from God, take a guess- who moved?” And it’s always me. I like to spin it and say “But I don’t feel Him, so He must be far.” But can I have faith, even if I don’t feel Him? Is “feeling Him near” a requirement for my faith? Because really, how much strength does your faith need if you always feel Him? When you think of a baby learning to walk, you may as well be 10 meters away if you’re not holding their hands, even if you’re 10 centimetres in front of them. Are we the same way? If we don’t feel Him, then He’s not there?
I’ve been encouraged by John 10:14 since being home. I too have been having those feelings (that everyone gets), but He’s taught me in the past (in the “easier” seasons), that His word is absolute truth, and when I don’t “feel” Him, I can know that His word never fails. Jesus has just finished one of His famous parables, and of course, not many understood. (He did this on purpose, by the way, but that’s a different story.) So He’s explaining Himself, and says something beautiful. Context: you and I are sheep. We’re the ones who lay down our lives to follow our shepherd. If you’re not ok with this, you need to take that up with Him.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and my sheep know me.”
Someone who created me, who knows me. He knows me when I don’t even know myself- I’m sure you know the days.
Back to faith, and then we’re all done. If you check out 2 Peter 1, there’s a sweet little verse (5) that says to “supplement your faith”. Add to your faith. Wait- game changer! This faith, which you and I have been given ( 2 Pet. 1:1) by God, can be added to. With what, do you ask? Well, let me tell you. Good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love. Looking at all of that at once seems overwhelming, but start with your faith. Start in the beginning, and ask Him “God, what can I work on today?”
And I’ll leave with reminding you that satan hates when we believe truth. He is the master of lies, that is his nature. So if you’re like me and love to kick satan when he’s down, start declaring truth, even if you don’t feel it. Declare that “God is near” (Psalm 145:18). God has a plan for all of this (Romans 8:28), even if we mess it up a lot. You are His sheep- you know Him and He knows you (John 10:14).
He came to give you life, and life to the fullest, yes. And sometimes that includes a bit of challenge. Are you up for it?
With Strength that is not my own, Sam
P.S- A Bonus for you: