Reality in the Midst of Faith
by Sandra Snowden
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Chapter 3 - Reality in the Midst of Faith
Initially, I wanted this chapter to be a separate book and in the future it may be, but I want to address the reality of experiences as it relates to faith that causes us to become Water Walkers.
Life’s occurrences are real! A diagnosis of a terminal illness. Financial problems that never seem to dissipate. One unhealthy relationship after another. Business flandering. Onlookers constantly evaluating your circumstances through their eyes. Children and parents miles apart. The unbeliever prospering. The world in total disarray. These situations are real, not just a figment of the imagination.
Some institutional churches suggest that your reality is not reality and that you do not accept it as fact. These churches also postulate that instead of believing what is real to you, stand on the Word of God and your reality will be your testimony. The latter portion of the last statement certainly has validity but confusion inters in when attempting to embrace something felt and actual against believing that it is not real. This confusion causes one to become a Water Walker.
Let me address the word confusion here because believers will immediately quote the scripture, “God is not the author of confusion”. My revelation about confusion, from God, is “confusion makes you reevaluate your foundation”. Using this revelation as the backdrop for the development of confusion being the catalyst for Water Walking, if I am entertaining two schools of thought: faith and reality, how do I proceed? Which came first: faith or reality? Where do I start in consciously living what is in my life?
God uses the foolish things to confound the wise because He has a chosen people that He wants to receive first of His goodness. God never intended for the unbeliever, one who has not accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, to reign over the believer. Realizing that the scripture states that, “God rains on the just and the unjust”, meaning every person, God did and still does have an order. The believers, the righteous shall inherit the earth while we are here. The believer understands that God is first and gets glory for everything in this life.
Life is composed of both faith and reality. Faith is an intangible. It cannot pass the test of the five senses. Reality on the other hand passes with flying colors. Reality is more prevalent because humans are geared towards what can readily pass the five-sense test. Imagination is not necessary for what is. Careful thought and planning was instituted prior to the imagined (faith) becoming a reality. Mankind negates the quality of faith outside of the ecclesiastical realm and self-recognition is imposed in lieu of acknowledging God. Circumspectly, God the Creator, whatever name mankind chooses to use, may be acknowledged but not often intentionally. The issue here is: faith was present first but not duly recognized, thereby creating confusion. Now confused, forcibly reevaluating foundational principles is a necessity.
Principle – imagination is born from faith.
Problem – faith is not to be recognized or acknowledged.
Confusion – what is the answer and how to find it?
This three-tiered obstacle: principle, problem and confusion; immediately propels a believer into Water Walking because an answer is of dire importance that will eliminate stagnation that occurs due to indecisiveness, which stems from a lack of knowledge. For clarity let’s use an example to further analyze my theory. Someone has a very strong feeling to start a business but has no financial ability to embark on this endeavor. The feeling becomes an obsession that interrupts daily thinking and nocturnal rest. The mind is currently centered on this feeling which is now a passion and will not disappear.
A non-believer, however, will propose that the business idea has come to mind because it was buried in the subconscious perhaps for years and some incident has now brought it to the surface. The proposition continues with the Freudian notion that the idea stems from childhood and that the individual will not be satisfied until it is addressed and confronted. The non-believer immediately credits this idea to his own mind and continues on a path of internal security. Validation and implementation are sought from the academic world of “how to” to bring this idea to reality. Faith would rarely be mentioned, perhaps thought, but almost assuredly put on the beach and not launched into the water.
Conversely, a believer now possessing an idea gives credit to God because the believer knows that God has placed everything inside the human being before the beginning of time. Faith is the first acknowledged level for a believer, which is a recognized and accepted intangible. The intangible, possibly a Word from God, via a preached message, a person, reading the bible, etc., is now the focus of the believer’s existence. A Word, from God, is often received via an emotional experience.
One could be consumed in personal audible praise and worship; or in the middle of a church service and with the utmost assurance believe that God spoke to him or her At the time, no one else was privy to the experience and the receiver is left alone with the Word. However, a tangible-reality, has been introduced in the midst of the intangible. Reality is quietly lurking on the seashore of your mind.
When the high tide of praise and worship or the church service reverts to a low tide, wonderment takes place. What do I do with this new revelation (information)? Does God really expect me to quit my job and relinquish my source of livelihood on something as intangible as a Word from God? What if I make a mistake: really leave my job, by faith, and loose everything? My House. My car. My family. My reputation. My sanity. My hope. My…. Merely entertaining the Word received has me on the bank of the beach pondering, will I walk on this water? Faith says take a step. Reality says how do I know for sure?
Mentally strolling down the beach of the water contemplating whether to take the first step onto the water, thoughts the size of Tsunami waves are now splashing against the background of your mind. Thoughts, which bring to remembrance teachings of faith that, admonished belief in the importance of knowing the voice of God from which the Word is received. The Word is a revelation from God, which gives direction or instruction concerning the pattern of your life that has been preordained before birth. An appropriate scripture would be, “the steps of a man are order by the Lord and he delights in the way”, Psl. 37:23.
Believers accept that everything God has done is good and is composed of love for God’s divine purpose. Therefore, life’s purpose is to fulfill the will of God and not one’s self. This reality infuses itself into the believer’s mindset that: I must obey what God has predestined for my life regardless of any personal apprehensions or confusions.
Still mentally strolling the beach of your mind, a major struggle if not war, is now occurring between faith and reality. The tsunami swells!! I have often labeled this storm as the Apostle Paul declared, “the war between the flesh and the spirit”, Rm. 8:18 Now seriously entertaining the storm, unknowingly your foot is wet from the water. Immersed in the thought of receiving or declining the Word, unconsciously the water walking process has begun. Unlike Peter in our scripture, today’s believer has a beach for thought before stepping directly into the deep water. Nonetheless, the activity of water walking is still taking place. But how far will I go on the water before realizing that I am actually walking the water? At what point is the decision made to consciously be a Water Walker and has the war between the flesh and the spirit (faith and reality) been adequately addressed?
Reality surfaces and seemingly becomes the dominant factor as more beach strolling continues. The amenities of life, that are daily delights, are now succumbing to the largest mental waves making even the thought of water walking nebulous. Fear has become a factor! Where is faith? What happens to the teachings that are suppose to be a part of my belief system?
I am endeavoring, at this point, to stress the urgency of recognizing reality in the midst of faith. Not investigating the reality of life’s situations and circumstances can cause a believer to grapple with emotional instability. Confession, not withstanding, the mental waves continue to wash up against the sea of the mind searching for an inlet to settle in and thereby allowing the experience of the calmness of the sea of thoughts. Reaching to accept the Word of faith, the mind wavers vehemently between reality and faith. The foundation of the believer’s existence is now on trial. How will I follow the Word of faith and acknowledge the reality of impossibility? The scripture says, “with man all things are impossible but not with God for all things are possible,” Mk. 10:27.
Principle: believers really do receive Words from God for their lives
Problem: how to validate the Word received?
Confusion: what to believe reality or faith; or both?
Reality now blaring loudly into the believer’s ear says, “believe me!” Faith quietly attempting to subtly enter in says, “I’m the answer to your reality!” What now feels like an oceanic flood is occurring in the believer’s consciousness. How can this be? The doctor’s diagnosis is terminal, but the preacher’s response is don’t believe the doctor’s report. Scripturally supported with, “whose report will you believe”, Jn. 12:38 the believer ponders the question. The doctor has medical proof and years of education that prepared him for his profession. The preacher knows nothing about medicine! Life is hanging in the balance and a decision is crucial.
Reliving some past experiences, one comes to this believer’s mind. Attending a church service, the pastor prayed for someone who was terminally ill and assured the family and the congregation that the sick individual would be healed and totally restored. However, not many days later the sick individual died!! Instant confusion! What happened to the prayer of faith? I am in the same situation, what should I do?
There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors, perhaps consulting with other believers would help to remedy the situation? After all there is strength in numbers, particularly, those who are in agreement. In addition, private prayers that have been sent up in the past are still awaiting an answer. My reality is becoming anxious even though the Bible says, “be anxious for nothing…”. Again faith is attempting to override the waves of reality as the Holy Spirit, within, brings more scriptures to mind. Because time has now become the greatest factor, faith dissipates and the former massive waves of faith-thought turn into a non-existing body of water.
A portion of another scripture now has precedence in your thinking, “hope deferred makes the heart sick,” Prov.13:12. The feeling of drowning, becoming overcome by the tsunami, is present in this partial scripture and the idea to read the entire verse is lying dormant. Reality splashing, intimates that not only is the human man sick but also the spiritual man and this scripture corroborates it spiritually. Hope, an intangible like faith, that takes too long to materialize causes a heart attack or heart dis-ease. The scripture does say so, but….
Considering this is not the first attempt at water walking and past times were not successful, to your thinking, a monumental wave thrust itself: are you really going to try this again? Hope has been deferrrrrrrrred, why am I doing this again or even contemplating it? My heart is sick and the feeling of open-heart surgery lingers day and night as I wrestle with the octopus in the waters of my mind. The huge tentacles of the octopus arrest and hold hostage each thought that comes to free me from drowning in despair. But for long periods of time no other water animals come to the rescue as the wrestling becomes more and more pronounced. Will I make it? Am I going to die to this thing that even I most times cannot substantiate? Is it really faith or my reality that I refuse to accept and acknowledge? Where is the answer?
Faith somehow miraculous gains a foothold and whispers the remaining portion of the scripture, “but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life”. Gasping for breath and immediately realizing that oxygen has been supplied for the apparent drowning, life begins to override death. However, reality still awaits in that the question haunts: will you do this again, walk on the water?
Your mental capacities now fully alert examines the reality even more but faith now insists on becoming your reality. “How long will you halt between two opinions? If the Lord be God follow Him…” 1 Kgs. 18:21. “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what you can ask or think according to the power that works in you,” Eph. 3:20, “Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling….,” Jude 24. “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us,” Rm. 8:18. Scripture after scripture bombards reality like a life jacket and brings decisiveness to the surface! Yes, I will walk on the water, again!
The decision to walk the water again, demonstrates that this war between the flesh and the spirit is over and the spirit is the victory! Still a little shaken by the experience, practice reassurance is needed. This reassurance is only for those who are believers and confess Jesus Christ as their Lord, Savior, and Master.
1. Be sure of your Word from God. No one else can do this for you. Knowing the voice of God and how He deals with you is paramount. How is this done? Look at an experience that you had and you knew it was God. Relive the situation: how did you feel, was it out of character for you, were you emotional and you are not usually emotional, etc.? For example, I have a four-step process that has worked over many years, which I use to affirm within myself that God has spoken directly to me especially something that I do not want to entertain.
a. I get very angry, livid.
b. I cry
c. I repent
d. I get delivered from my disobedience –not wanting to receive
This is my process, you must obtain your own. God does not want us to flounder through our faith without some clues, pillars of faith (prior successes) or practical apparatus that lead us to His success.
2. Formulate a multitude of wise counsel. Establish relationships with 4-5 people who you can share your spiritual growth with. These individuals should be on different levels: above you, with you, and beneath you. Those above you will provide wisdom from time and years. Those with you will provide wisdom for now. Those beneath will receive from you via discipling and the interaction of others in the counsel.
3. Internalize the written Word of God. Memorize and study the Bible so that in the time of need the Holy Spirit can bring scriptures of need to your remembrance. Particular attention should be paid to scriptures that directly affect your destiny/purpose, i.e., teaching, administration, etc. These scriptures become tools of war against thoughts of defeat.
4. Commune daily with God. It is of the utmost importance that a continual relationship is had with God through prayer, praise, worship and quiet time. This communion is personal and takes place between you and the Lord God Almighty. It does not need to occur at church but must be done daily so that you are secure with the God of your salvation and that you will know Him for yourself.
5. “Be patient! You've been walking by faith. You've been believing God to meet your need. But what do you do when the results seem slow in coming and you
are tempted to give up?
There is not much said about patience these days, but when it comes to
receiving from God, it is just as important as faith. It will make the difference between success and failure for you.
Patience under girds and sustains faith until the result is manifested. After you have meditated on the promises of God and have them in your spirit, patience will encourage you to hold steady. Patience is power. It has the courage to refuse the lie of satan that says the Word is not working for you. It knows that God's Word has never failed.
Patience will not draw back in fear but will press forward in faith until you have the answer.
When the results of your faith seem slow in coming, don't give up! Continue to put the Word first, with patience, and you will surely receive the promise of God!” Gloria Copeland Hebrew 10:32-39
Receiving the promise, which is the Word of God, gives credence to your faith and produces your reality, which provides the impetus to continue believing. Reality, remember, is that which is seen. Faith is not seen, "but is what the thing is supposed to look like," Rev. Floyd Snowden, Sr.
In summary what is in your life is real, how to deal with it by faith becomes the question. Do not negate the actual that may cause dire adversities. Today many believers are undergoing counseling because of the difficulty in relating by faith and dealing in reality. God does have an answer for every situation but it means that a situation must be present before an answer can be supplied.
The scripture says, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper”…, Isa 54:11. Understand here that the weapon must be formed, meaning it must look exactly like the real thing. The storm, situation, must look so real that even the experts cannot detect its falsehood. The doctor who has trained for years did make the diagnosis. Your financial situation says that you will loose your house. But, God promises that He will not allow the weapon that has formed to prosper. Believers must allow, permit if you will, the weapon to form. Yes, the very weapon that is supposed to destroy, you must not only watch it form but do nothing to prevent its formation. During this formation, your faith is being increased and stretched to fit your upcoming promotion. Remember, this process develops and increases your faith! Hence forth, reality is necessary in order for faith to be manifested.
Water Walking, therefore, is the by-product of understanding the relationship between faith and reality.
The Water Walking Test
Using the same area of life that you chose in the first chapter, i.e., recreation, education, finances, spirituality, and emotion, write honestly what you consider to be the reality of the situation. Now is no time to be spiritual!!
Take 5-10 minutes and review what you have written. How did this review make you feel? Fearful? Happy? Excited?, etc. List your feelings below and try to explain why you felt that way.
Now let’s look at your faith. Can you identify another experience that was similar to this one, if so write it below.
What measures of faith can you recall that enabled you to journey through that experience?
Was the experience a spiritual (faith) or natural success?
How could you tell the difference?
How did you maintain your reality in the experience?
What affect did this experience have on your reality?
What was changed during the experience; your faith or your reality or both and how?
What have you learned from this chapter about faith and reality that you can apply to your next water walking experience?
I pray for the strength and especially the wisdom to make Godly decisions. I will listen to the Holy Spirit within me to direct and instruct me. I will seek Godly counsel, for the scripture says, “there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors”. I acknowledge that reality is real but faith is greater for it gives more power to reality. I will always remember that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13
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Hey Ms. Sandra. How's your novel?! Anyway... I like the layout of this piece. It is practical and easy to follow. What market are you targeting? "Reality..." is a scholarly read; so, it might not work for a general audience as written. It is needful information for all of us, so maybe you could modify the style in excerpts for some of the ministry magazines. Also, I know you, so I know you have, but make sure to do a spell and grammar check. ("inters" s/b enters." Great work! Pamela Bridgeman (email@example.com; http://www.ahealingjourneyseminars.com).
Well worth reading. I felt that this was written just for me.
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