Friday, March 9, 2007
I Believe In the Sun...Love...God...
Every day I walk by a plaque
in my condo that reads:
I believe in the sun
even when it's not shining
I believe in love
even when I don't feel it
I believe in God
even when He is silent
It's easy for us to believe in the sun when it's not shining, because we have seen and experienced the sun. It's easy for us to believe in love when we aren't feeling loved or loving, because we have felt love before and know we will again. Sunshine and love aren't alien to us.
In the same way, it's easy to believe in God when we have had an undeniable experience of his presence-- a visitation, a vision, an angel intervention, or simply a prayer connection that leaves us weeping with love that cannot be expressed regarding our ability to connect one-on-one with Abba Father, who made the universe and seeks, with enormous passion, our ear, our devotion, and our partnership.
Those who have met God up close and personal see him in sunshine and in love. They see him on their way to work in the morning, and all during work; on their way to Wal-Mart and on their way to a hospital in a screaming ambulance. To a faithful man, God is revealed in every direction he looks and in every circumstance .
In the recent movie AMAZING GRACE, Prime Minister Pitt is lying on his deathbed. His longtime friend William Wilberforce is called to his side one last time.
Pitt confides to Wilberforce, "I'm scared."
Wilberforce is taken aback, surprised. He asks his dying friend, "Of what?"
He cannot understand. He is a man of faith. What he knows of death is not fearful; it is glorious!
Pitt then confesses, "I wish I had your faith" -- and means it, down to the marrow in his bones.
Hearing that hurt me. I thought, "Lying on one's deathbed is hardly the time to wish for the faith of a faithful man!"
I suppose a pertinent question from a man or woman lacking faith might be, "How do I go about procuring the faith of the faithful?"
The answer is laughably simple...
You get it the way you get anything else that's of value to you: You go after it! You seek it, you track it in places where you are most likely to find it. You seek after it, thirst for it, study it, devour information about those who have it."
Some obtain faith the way I did: an invitation is sent by God that is so incongruous and so out-of-ordinary-context and befuddling that you are seduced into tracking the scent to its source. (See earlier blog for my testimony.)
But please don't wait for an invitation. The invitation has already been sent and people have been RSVP'ing in droves for two thousand years from all corners of the earth.
If you will simply RSVP you will learn and embrace the faith of the faithful.
Understand one thing: God is not a gate crasher. He is pretty quiet most of the time. You're most likely to hear him in a quiet place when the television and radio are turned off and you are either by yourself or with another seeker.
Seek and you will find. Ask and you will receive. Knock and the door will be opened.
It's Biblical, straight from God, so you can believe it! He doesn't lie!
I will show you a typical first prayer. But first, Relax! A prayer is simply a conversation with a loving Father who already knows exactly how you feel. (Yeah, he created the Universe and everything in it, too, but forget about that for right now or it will intimidate you.) He knows you're taking a tentative first step, like a toddler, and that you don't know quite what you're doing yet... and He's fine with that! He wants you to try, the way an earthbound father reaches out to his son or daughter and encourages their first steps toward him. Have faith that he loves you enough to "catch" you even if you say something really stupid (in retrospect)!
"Father God, it's hard for me to talk to you like you're really there. I'm not really sure you exist, so this feels pretty silly. But I do know that billions of people already believe in you and their obvious and continuing joy in this increasingly frightening world intrigues and compels me to find out what they know that keeps them feeling hopeful and loving. Please make yourself known to me. I admit that asking you for anything while not yet really believing completely in you makes me feel like I am wobbling on holy ground, not worthy even to ask. But I'm asking. Please reveal to me over time your presence in the world and in my life. Thank you for sending Jesus to pay the penalty for sins I have committed, whether willfully or unwittingly. I want to know you more. Amen."
Then get The Message (a contemporary idiomatic translation of the Bible by Eugene Peterson) or the New Living Translation of the Bible (or both), and a Life Application Study Bible in the version you like best, along with LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS by Chuck Missler.
Next, program one of your radio stations to a Christian music station and listen to the lyrics and make it a plan to listen as though the words were true. (Many Christian lyrics come right out of the Bible, so they are the Word of God in a literal sense.)
And then, every Sunday for two months, go to a different church, sit in the back pew and just listen. Keep moving from church to church until you find the one you absolutely CANNOT bear to miss the following week, and go again. If you feel hooked after three or four sessions, that will be your church for a good long time, possibly forever. That's where to start a Bible study with other seekers. Don't be intimidated. None of them are better than you.
If you do any or all of the above, chances are very good that you will not find yourself on your deathbed one day fearfully telling a friend, "I wish I had your faith..."
You will have your own, bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus!