"Faith isn't the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It's simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step."
Joni Eareckson Tada
Just ten days ago, my husband and I returned from Springfield, Missouri, where we spent several days with our younger son, Chris, who was hospitalized. A late afternoon phone call had turned a typical Wednesday into flurry. The following morning, we rushed to Missouri, not knowing what illness had gripped Chris's life. His symptoms were intense and confusing to us and the doctors. And for some time, the culprit remained a mystery. Accordingly, the enemy worked his work of fear, speaking untruths to our minds.
Many stormed heaven on Chris's behalf! The prayers of saints poured into the throne room! God's people prayed! And Chris improved. Glory to God!!! (The doctors told Chris just two days ago he tested positive for salmonella. More tests are pending, and we believe, know, Chris will be 100% healthy!)
We left Springfield once Chris was home and stabilized. As we travelled back to Alabama, we were met by a car that swerved into our lane. Jeff and I gasped, inhaled, spoke the name of Jesus. My husband had just enough room and time to move to the right, avoiding a tragedy for our family.
Arriving home about 10:00 Monday evening, I unpacked our suitcases, while Jeff went to Ruby Tuesday's to get us a salad. We ate, watched a little television, and got ready for bed. Our phone rang early Tuesday morning. You've had those phone calls. The ones that feel important when you hear the first ring. I had just awakened, but was still in bed. Jeff was in the kitchen making coffee, and he answered the phone. Five minutes later he came into the bedroom and announced that a dear friend had, in the night, left his mortal body to join the Lord. It was sudden death. Unexpected. A shock.
Danny's death was a blow to his family and all who knew him. He was a vibrant, fifty-seven year old man, who made everyone who knew him feel a little more special after leaving his presence. My husband and I stood in line at the funeral home two hours before we were able to greet the family. Danny was much loved.
Ten minutes after arriving home from the visitation, my phone rang. Seeing it was my sister, and knowing a late evening phone call from her was rare, I answered with concern and immediately heard the stress in her voice. "I hit a deer on my way home from work tonight. I think my car is totaled."
My sister, Nancy, was OK, but the pressing thought of a near-missed tragedy bore its truth through my heart like a laser. Later, we learned Nancy's life was spared because the deer did not go through her windshield. Our family praises God, and deems my sister's survival a miracle. Angels were near, and saved us from overwhelming grief. My dear friends, I am not sharing these incidents out of fear. I am not sharing out of depression or anxiety about the future. I am certainly not sharing to gain pity or to manipulate emotions. I am sharing because of reality. The reality of our faith! The reality of our lives! That our fleshly tabernacles are simply housing our souls, which can depart this world in a matter of seconds. With no warning. With no control of ours or others. With no choice of life or death.
And such stark reality brings home a collision of faith and flesh. Recent circumstances have brought me face to face with self. I have looked. Searched. Questioned. Pondered and wondered my faith, its strength and its weakness. Looked in the eyes of uncertainty and realized the shaky state it can bring. Realized the only certain situation in this mortal life is uncertainty itself.
Collision of faith and flesh is stunning. It is gritty reality right in your face. It can be quite rude and ugly. Its abruptness raises personal inspection, a microscopic look of survival faith, that part of your life in God that is left when living gives you less than best, or worse that worst.
A simple knowledge of God, dear friends, is not breath enough for survival faith. No, survival faith, the shattered remains from collision of faith and flesh, must have something more. Deep roots, fertile soil, good water, tender care. A divine taproot that glues faith fibers together, so that no tugging, pulling, or digging can transplant or destroy our life in God.
Greater than physical life and greater than human emotions, survival faith is staying strength. Our lives are fragile. Tender. Always changing. In a moment's notice or less, our world can turn upside down. Stability turn to chaos. Joy become sorrow. Love lead to loss.
But for the taproot of Jesus Christ, our faith would be vague in those moments. Without Him, we would stumble in our darkened rooms for faith's failing glow.
Yet, there is no stumbling, when our taproot is strong. Jesus is divine light and strength. He is our intercessor. He is our peace. Our comforter. Deliverer. Friend. The I Am Who is more sure, more certain, than every uncertainty. The Faithful, Changeless One Who remains in our faithless, vague moments.
I desire divine light and life. I am praying God will purify my faith. To be honest, it's an intimidating prayer. I fear what testing it may bring, but the silent alternative will only give stagnation: a state of inactivity; still waters, without current or circulation. What an unbearable thought of compromised Christianity! No, I must choose to venture into deep waters with God.
I don't want to be stale, my dear friends. I want, need, must have living water that mightily flows through my spirit. I crave a river of God that sanctifies and changes who I am. Not only for myself, but for my husband, my children, grandchildren, family, church, and friends. And most of all, for the glory of God! That God would be glorified in my life in all things! That in everything I do others would see less of me and more of Jesus!
Many have chosen deep waters. So many saints have had devastating, life-changing collisions, not just potential traumas, with faith and flesh. So many servants of God have given all they have for the kingdom. Their stamina of faith puts me to shame! Their lives of victory challenge my life of less! Their belief in God for great things proves my life simple. Their joy in trials gives me hope, however, for pure faith!
May the Lord give us grace to allow Him to take survival faith and multiply its seed. With joy, let's pray to grasp Christ's hand and trust Him as He leads to deep waters, though their isolation and profoundness overwhelm us. May every challenge in life send us to the mirror; to see reality of flesh; to face the truth of human inability; to turn to a limitless God; to hope in the Hope of our salvation; to trust in His name, El Roi, the Responder to needs; to take Christ's hand and believe His leadership as best, even if He guides to deep waters. Even if faith and flesh collide!
Heavenly Father, please help me to learn complete trust in you. It is a process, dear Lord, and I must yield to its work in my life. May I, in faith, take your hand, in all situations, and walk with you to deep waters. In Jesus' name, Amen.
*When thinking of those whose faith has survived truly amazing challenges, I am reminded of Paul, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, and so many others in the Bible. I also think of Elisabeth Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, and Catherine Marshal, and Amy Carmichael. And then there are those so closely connected, whose everyday personal lives are overwhelmed with the need for survival faith. I have seen many here on blogger, whose lives are beautiful testimonies of God's amazing grace and His ability to carry us when faith and flesh collide.
When you think of survival faith, whose life most influences you? Perhaps it is one from God's word, or another saint from history, a contemporary individual, even someone you personally know.
*Research and scripture are from www.thefreedictionary.com and www.biblegateway.com