Much of life at this moment is hanging in the balance. The future has always been uncertain, but now the only thing I’m certain of is that I have no control and no idea what’s to come. God has called me out onto the waves…and a storm is approaching. During a recent meeting, as I discussed some of life’s upcoming changes and challenges, someone asked me how I’ve built such a strong faith. It caught me off guard because, the truth is, I haven’t.
I didn’t build my faith. My faith built me.
From the ground up.
In the darkest moments of my life, I was weak. I didn’t suddenly find some hidden reserve of strength within that raised me up from the wreckage. I fell to my knees, and He pulled me up from the depths. Faith has become a leading attribute of my character because I’ve been molded by the tough love of God. Yes, God is gentleness and kindness; He’s the very definition of love. Yet, what so many people don’t understand, what I’ve had to learn the hard way, is that following Him doesn’t always feel good. His plan for your life is the purpose of your life; a unique and beautiful mission that is, in itself, a gift…but it does come at a cost. Being a Christian doesn’t mean freedom from suffering. It doesn’t even always mean the easing of your suffering. It often means you’ll suffer more deeply. He’ll break your heart before He’ll allow you to have less than His best for your life…and His best usually doesn’t come in the package you may have envisioned. It may look nothing like you’d expected.
At first, you may feel betrayed. You’ll cry out and you won’t understand. You’ll beg for mercy and may be met with silence. He’ll bring you to the end of yourself. Over and over again. He’ll empty you out and you’ll be tempted to run; to turn your back on Him. It’s in those fragile, raw, broken moments…there is where it begins. The foundation. Brick-by-brick. The birthplace of strong faith is in the split second when you lean into Him rather than turn away. That is the moment He comes crashing in. That moment when your last ounce of strength is used to trust. To reach out and grasp the hand of The One who has been holding you all along.
I’m so often led by faith because I’ve seen the other side of suffering. When the dust settles after it’s all fallen apart, He is there holding out the answers to prayers I didn’t even know how to pray. The gifts greater than anything I would’ve designed for myself. The most precious, life-altering blessings don’t come in neatly wrapped packages, given in picture perfect moments. They come disguised, mysterious and in the moment you’d least expect them.
Having faith has not been easy. It’s taken years of being broken. Shattered and put back together. It hasn’t looked anything like I thought it would when I first prayed that Christ would reign in me. Yet, nothing that I could’ve ever imagined for myself can compare to the joy I’ve found in living my life for Him. Loving God hasn’t meant having all the answers, escaping pain and suffering, or getting everything I wanted. It’s meant so much more…and, oh, has it been worth it.