Not long ago, I came across this. Although it is geared toward Lutherans, it can be used for any. It may not be the entire answer, but to me it is a start. People who have left the church, or who are scared to start going to church need to hear these things.
Unbeknown to her, God spoke to me through her words. It never fails to amaze me how powerful and humbling it is when this happens.
It was Sunday afternoon and the speaker had finished. Everyone else at our table had left. I was putting my coat on and getting ready to leave. I was thinking of all I needed to do for the upcoming week and how I needed to hurry to get home. She simply started speaking. I looked in her eyes and knew she felt compelled to tell me a part of her story. So, I sat back down and gave her my full attention. Her eyes moved around the room in amazement as she told me how wonderful it was to see the Family Life Center at our church. She remembered when it was built. She remembered when our church did not have its own building.
She continued on from the beginning. Her and her husband moved to our area in their thirties and they had small children. She spoke of the church they came from. Our connection began. My husband and I (both in our thirties) moved out here a couple years ago with our two small children. We just so happened to come from the same church as her and her husband as well.
“Would this church ever grow? Would it ever have its own building? Was it worth the trouble?” Many times shaking her head, she went on with our church’s journey. There were good times and not so good times. There were stories of disagreements, doubts, and having to rush in the borrowed building to pick up cigarette butts before the service began. Her attention to detail had me fully engaged. By the end of her story we both were wiping a few tears from our face. “By God’s grace we are where we are today,” were the words she ended with.
It was and still is through the grace of God, with the unity we have in Christ, that we can always continue to build the church and share our stories.
Someone once told me…or maybe I read it somewhere…if you are feeling nervous or are in need of a confidence boost all you need to do is the ‘superhero’ stance. Simply stand up straight, place your hands on your hips, and look up. Now you can face anything.
I’ve never tried it, but the idea is intriguing. I can think of one situation I have been placed in recently where I could have used a little boost of confidence. Maybe I should have stood up from my chair and tried it.
This is something I have been praying about. Sometimes, in certain situations, I struggle with knowing what to say or do and it leads me to do nothing…that isn’t always good. Maybe I need to do the ‘superhero’ stance. As I look up I will be looking to the Lord for strength. It will be my ‘Lord give me strength’ stance.
“I wish I had your faith,” someone said.
“I wish you did too,” I replied.
Our conversation continued on the subject for a few minutes and then was changed to a lighter matter. To hear those words, to feel the truth in them broke my heart. My faith is something deeply imbedded in me and I see it always has been…even when I thought it wasn’t. Although I know my faith is not perfect, nor will it ever be, it is pretty strong and stable. I wonder, what if I didn’t have my faith? Times I have struggled and times I have felt like giving up, my faith is what has pulled me through. What would my life be like today? I do not want to even entertain that thought. I like the certainty of not having control in this life and I like knowing there is life beyond this life. It makes the pain and hard times worth it.
So how do you help someone else deepen their faith? I want this person to go beyond just knowing there is a God…I want this person to be moved to their knees in feeling there is a God. I can pray for them…but I am also moved to do more.
My mind keeps pulling me to the book of Acts. Jesus was taken up to heaven, and then the Holy Spirit arrived. The church was taking root. Wow. Try to imagine being there. Being face to face and hearing the Word from men who were close to Jesus. One of them looking you in the eyes and saying,”Repent, then turn to God, so that your sins are wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” (Acts 3:19). The gospel was given, they were instructed to repent, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. I feel like I need to add something profound here, but that isn’t the right way. There was no jumping through hoops, it was kept simple. It should still be today.
So maybe to grow your faith you need to first take it back to the basics. Forget all the man made traditions, listen to what the words in the bible say. Know, God loves you. Believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins and he rose from the dead. Pray, repent, and turn to God.
In bible study, we are reading a book called Shaking Scripture by Mark Manning. It is an awesome book, the author does a great job at bringing you into the story and applying it to the present day. The chapter we read today was titled Removing Rocks and Grave clothes, it told the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. Every chapter of this book has been enlightening but this chapter was my favorite. I highly recommend this book.
One of the discussion questions was, “Is there something you still struggle with when it comes to a “rock” that blocks your path to growing your faith?” Someone responded, “Something or somethings?” We all nodded and agreed. Isn’t that the truth. We all have things blocking us from growing our faith.
For me, I have a hard time listening to what God is telling me to do. I will feel the pulling and nagging for me to do something, but then the doubt sets in. Is he really asking me to do something…no He can’t be…am I over thinking again? Then, I will think I know the answer and questions arise and I am back at where I began. Questioning and doubt together hinder my growth.
It was a perfect subject for today being Ash Wednesday. I usually give up something every year, but I was struggling (as usual) with what to choose. Last year it was bread, the year before was chips, and the year before that was some other type of food. This year I wanted to give up something other than food. Now I know––I am giving up my biggest rock(s), questioning and doubt.
This will not be easy.
I think of a time when I was younger having to do a trust building exercise. The act of falling backward into other peoples arms––and the fear I felt not being able to see their arms stretched waiting to catch me. I closed my eyes, took a couple deep breaths and fell backwards, convinced I was going to hit the ground. But that isn’t what happened. I felt the arms of the group stop me from falling, my eyes opened, and there were smiling faces staring down at me.
That is how my life has been when I trust God. I fear, I get anxious over all the possible outcomes. Then when I finally I close my eyes and fall into His arms, I realize my burdens are never too heavy for Him to catch. It gets easier, the more I trust Him. I think less of my fear and anxiety, my eyes close quicker and I allow myself to fall harder, and with that I become lighter and lighter…