Because I have found myself in the title role of "Pastor" before, I also found that I seemed to be in the unique position of being the one who is asked to describe what faith is. Ah, faith! Now there is a subject of such vast proportions. So vast, as a matter of fact, that at once I find I must clarify whether we are talking about my 'personal' faith in the Savior; or "the" faith as once delivered to the saints; or 'saving' faith; or whether or not I have 'faith' to move mountains. Indeed, I find from time to time I am asking this of myself - what IS my faith, and is it sufficient to get me through this life and carry me home to be with the Lord in heaven? Somehow in its own and often inexplicable way, I find all these facets or views of faith to be intertwined. Together, they make up what I have called the 'kaleidoscope' through which I view God.
Just like the little toy kaleidoscopes that I used to play with as a child, this kaleidoscope of faith changes in its dynamic facets and colors. Sometimes my view of God is wide, and rose colored, when all in my life seems to be going well. Then when the challenges, difficulties and trials of life enter in, and life suddenly makes no sense, the kaleidoscope of my faith shifts, and my view of God may get narrow, and turn to gray. Mind you, that God Himself does not change; only the way I view Him. This changing dynamic of my faith is not necessarily a bad thing, because it allows for my humanity to interpret my faith by measure, and by experience, instead of having it dictated to me. I personally feel that the 'dictation' of faith is where we often get into trouble in the church. When we expect others to act or react on the basis of 'our' faith dynamic in a given situation, and not each one's own dynamic, then we deny them the basis of forming their own faith by experiential relationship with God. We are asking people to form a faith relationship to God based upon our own experience. That only results in a weak and untested faith for that individual which may, and often does, fall apart at the moment of testing. Then we, the rest of God's fellowship, are often baffled as to why there is no 'faith' found in the church.
But this kaleidoscope does one other thing for me. It ensures that my faith is not stale, and that it is constantly 'evolving.' In this, I find that it is continually growing, because as the dynamic of my faith changes, I see Him in a new way, and I am constantly learning new things about the Lord. It is the testing of me, the trials and tribulations of life as it were, that is the power that rotates the tube of this kaleidoscope, and causes me to see things differently. Even though these pressures of life are often harsh and heartbreaking, they are precious and exciting in the realm of faith (if indeed in retrospect) because of what I learn about God, and myself, in the process. Today, I would like to share one such little facet of this 'learning' dynamic, gained through my kaleidoscope experience.
One of the great staples of our faith in Christ is His identity with us in our frailty as human beings. We are told, and can see in Scripture, that He suffered in many ways as we do, He understands our human weaknesses. The book of Hebrews, 4:15 (NKJV) tells us:
"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,
but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."
One of the key cornerstones of the Christian faith is this fact that our God, our Savior is able to identify with us in our weaknesses and frailties. This is what should bring us HOPE in all of our testing and sorrow, IF we can but believe and trust in it. It is this that so many of us wrestle with, I believe. How many times have we asked ourselves, "does Jesus know what I am going through?" "Does Jesus really know how I feel?"
My kaleidoscope is helping me to find out. Through some study and deep prayer concerning a matter close to my heart, I was seeking God, and yet I was being plagued by doubt. I told the Lord that I didn't want to doubt. But then I just asked Him, point blank. "Lord, did you EVER doubt, or feel fear, because I don't see it anywhere in Scripture where things looked so uncertain to you." What I am going to share with you, you may disagree with, and that is your prerogative. But I will tell you what the Lord showed me at that moment.
Jesus always had a very close intimate relationship with His Father. He was always assured of doing the will of His Father, and purposed in doing just that. Even as He questioned at Gethsemane, in His humanity, if the cross was the only way to accomplish the Father's plan of redemption, there was never any thought that He would NOT go through and carry it out, because it was His Father's will. But, on the cross at Calvary, as He was dying, and the sins of mankind were laid upon Him, God turned His back upon His Son at that moment. It was at THAT very precise moment, as Jesus cried out to His Father, "Why hast Thou forsaken me?" that Jesus was filled with all dread, terror, fear and doubt. "Could it be after all, that this was NOT the Father's plan?" "Did I do wrong, misjudge, misinterpret?" Only for one brief moment in time, in the humanity of the Man, Christ Jesus, but not in His God-hood, did this come upon Him.
I can hear the voices screaming "Blasphemy", and "Sacrilege" already. But believe me, this is what the Lord shared with me. I cannot find in Scripture any time when I saw Jesus doubt. But IF I, in my faith, am to identify with Him in my humanity, and feel that He understands my frailties and what I am suffering through, then I must understand that He knows by experience the painful sufferings I call out to him about. My friend, I leave this to you to reflect upon, and you will judge it through the eyes of your own faith and understanding. For me, it does not weaken my God. If anything, it confirms in my heart and in my faith that He is indeed Who He claims to be, and draws me ever closer to Him.
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I just know this Dennis, the closer that we walk with God the closer up we are going to see Him. It makes perfect sense to me that doubt came flooding in at the last moment, for He took ALL of our sins upon Himself. Rom. 14:23 tells us, "for whatever is not from faith is sin. Then we read in 2 Corin. 5:21-For He made Him who knew no sin to BE SIN for US, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. By the way I love your title, "Kaleidoscope of Faith. This is an excellent article Dennis, for it gets one thinking. Blessings, Sharon