And how that concept keeps us crippled in our disbelief.
There are times I find myself praying things like, "Oh, Lord, help me to get this house in order," or "What writing projects do you have for me?" Another one lately is, "Help me to get through that 30K trail run coming up in June." I pray these almost in my disbelief that I can do what it takes to achieve what I pray for. And quite honestly, my disbelief is rooted in simply not wanting to do what I don't feel like doing to get there. Yet, even as I pray, things don't just begin to happen in my favor. No matter how I look at it, I actually have to take action.
Sometimes I think we expect God to do the work for us or at least to send down a lightening bolt to get us moving in the right direction when we pray for help, but He never seems to do that. We still have to discern, make the sacrifices, begin the process, and go through the pain of the work.
Oh, I can just hear us stubbornly crying out like the Israelite's, "Look at my life (or this house). It's a mess! You should have left me where I was. I was better off enslaved than this. Where are you, God?! Don't my prayers mean anything? Are you even there?"
One of the most difficult times of my life was a time in which I cried out to God everyday and yet I walked that difficult path for seven years of my life. Believing is difficult when all you're willing to see is your lack and it was a long and painful process of healing and teaching me.
But I believe we have to go through the uncomfortable process of the work because that is where restoration takes place, lessons are learned, hope is found, and character and faith are built upon.
The process of that seven years now is irreplaceable. The depth of who I am today came from that valley and still I see that I never walked it alone even when it felt the loneliest. In time, God completely delivered me. Delivered me in much the same way He delivered the Israelite's, after 40 years in the wilderness, to the Promised Land. When you arrive at your promised land, you don't go back to slavery.
Yet, to get to a promised land, we absolutely have to believe God is capable of taking us there. The place full of His promises for us! And in order to believe we must have faith, because faith is assurance of what we cannot see, and faith requires action or it is dead.
I've been thinking about training for this trail run since January and haven't been able to get myself to do it - for what ever reasons. Probably because that first step of obedience is always the hardest and then it is still hard until the habit is formed and is worked into some sort of routine and way of life. And even then there are hard days.
Yet, this I don't blame God for. He never said He'd do the work for us. He said He'd walk through it with us. He's just waiting for me to put my faith into action, by putting one foot in front of the other, so he can begin revealing for me miracle after miracle along the way.
Maybe we're waiting for the guarantee, the proof, that running this race will be worth the effort and, until we have that, we'll remain in our disbelief and go no where.
But, do we see to believe or must we believe to see?
As I step out into the unknown, if it's the hardest thing I do, I breathe in fresh life, I'm awakened by the rhythm and motion of my feet hitting the pavement, waves of possibilities suddenly flood my imagination, and His presence overcomes me, as I determine to keep my eyes on Him through the hard faith.
Because I know better that when I step out in faith, that is when I begin to see all of the possibilities open up, the impossibles becoming possible, and I realize the blessing was never meant solely for the outcome in the first place. It was meant for the process all along.
We simply can't wait for the guarantee. We must believe before we will ever see the blessings, the rewards, and the miracles along this process of pressing on toward the goal in life.
"...blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble,I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation. Psalm 91:14-16
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. James 2:26
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
...Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain 'Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14