Lets Discuss Faith

About two and a half years ago I was struggling with faith. (Honestly, in the time since I have still struggled. I am just now at the point where I am finally learning to surrender and turn it all over to Him.) At that time in my life I was filled with bitterness and unhappiness. I blogged about my struggle to end the bitterness back then, and part of that I did a series of posts on faith. Since I am finally coming to terms with my faith, I thought I would re-post that series here. (and come on, we all know that I tend to ignore this blog and I really need to post more anyway) So, here are the first parts of my series on faith that I wrote back in August of 07.

introduction:

I want to do a series on something that has been on my mind a lot lately.
FAITH
I feel that a big part of the unhappiness and bitterness in my life has to do with a lack of faith. I have struggled with this issue. For years I have been torn in different directions when it comes to faith. I have come across so many wonderful blogs and wonderful people who have such a complete faith in the Lord and they seem to be so happy and content because of it. This is the thing that has eluded me all my life. So, I am going to be digging deep into my heart, mind and soul with a focus on faith.
This week I will be doing a series of posts on faith.
The topics I will be dicussing are:
FEARING FAITH
FORCING FAITH
FAILING FAITH
FALSE FAITH
FINDING FAITH
I would love to have some input and opinions on these topics. Please leave a comment and share your opinions and experiences with faith.


part 1, Fearing Faith:
Webster's defines faith as:
1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : LOYALTY b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs synonym see BELIEF - on faith : without question

I think faith is a bit more than that though. To me it seems that faith is a true knowledge within the heart of man that God is there for us in every way. It is knowing in your heart that everything in this world is the design of God and all things happen as He intends. Faith is the belief that we all have purpose and meaning. God has a plan for us all. The only thing that stand in the way of His plan is us. The true definition of Faith, to me, is letting go and trusting in God's plan for us.

For me faith has always been a bit elusive. My heart has always lacked that conviction. That firm belief that there is a higher power who has a plan for me. I was raised to believe in God, and yet that feeling of faith was not there for me.

I remember as a child growing up in a very small town, how certain people in town were viewed. In our first week living in town my sisters, who were much older than me, were being shown around town by some other teens who lived there. When my sisters got home they told us about how one of the things on the tour was the "long haired Jesus freak". The other teens wanted to show them where this weird guy and his wife lived. They were told to watch out for them because they were strange people. These teens had no idea what his real name even was, he was just known as "the long haired Jesus freak". As they drove by these strange people, my sisters said they sort of slipped down in their seats as they drove past the house of our aunt and uncle. That's right, they were the strange people.

I was just barely seven at that time. It was something that stuck with me though. It was my first experience with seeing how some people thought of others who have such a strong faith in The Lord. At the age of seven, I knew that I never wanted to be one of those "freaks".

A couple years later a strange new family moved to town. They had even more kids then my parents did. As the youngest of five, that seemed a pretty amazing thing to me. This new family made their own clothes, talked constantly about their religion and they didn't have a TV. No television! To the other kids in our tiny little school, that was just weird. "Why" we would ask, "don't you have a TV?" The answer was that their parents said the devil lived in the TV and they took theirs to church one day and smashed it with a hammer. Our town suddenly had a whole new set of "freaks". This concept was inconceivable to our nine year old brains. The devil was in their TV? Surely these people were crazy. Here, in my mind, was one more blemish on the concept of faith.

As I got older I realized that the parents of those kids didn't do a very good job explaining to them what the TV smashing was all about. Either that or the kids themselves weren't capable of explaining it well. I know now that what had really taken place was that they felt the devil had too much influence over the type of things that were being shown on TV. They believed that they did not want that influence in their home and that was the reasoning behind smashing the TV. It was just a way to symbolize their rejection of the devil's temptation.

I still don't necessarily believe that family did the right thing. It was what they felt was right, but I am not sure it had the right effect on their children. At the very least, I think they could have explained things to their children better. It's hard to say whether that situation was right or wrong. Maybe it's not that black and white. I do know that their decision alienated their children from the rest of the kids in town. Even at nine years old I understood that. Again, that was something I never wanted to go through.

Early in life I learned that having faith sometimes meant being treated differently. It meant that you were opening yourself up to criticism and hate. As I entered my teen years the last thing I wanted was to suffer these things more than I already did. I had enough problems making friends, I didn't need any extra challenges added.

I realize now that if I had let myself believe that it could have helped me through those tough times. I see how others rely on their faith to get them through those hard times in life. I see how it gives them courage and strength. Accepting the Lord into my heart could have made those hard, lonely years easier.

I learned very early in life to fear faith. Now, at 35 years old, I am struggling to overcome those long held fears and open my heart. I am searching for the courage to believe.

Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:6,8)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

Fear of others will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25)

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