“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. ” (Jeremiah 29:11–13, ESV)
For me worry has always been sort of an opposite to faith. I have to admit that faith is somewhat hard for me to grasp completely. I know there is more to faith than mental assent to certain propositions. Being able to say that I believe Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins is not really faith. This does not mean a confession like this is useless, but sometimes I have a tendency to allow it to take the place of life changing faith.
It may be a verbal expression of faith, something that flows out of a real change of heart. Or it could simply be a string of sounds created by air passing through my throat and mouth.
Something said, but not really felt.
That, I supposed, is the issue for me. Faith should really change the way I live. Andy Stanley suggests that when you are trying to figure out what faith looks like, you ask this question.
“What would someone like you do if they were absolutely certain God was with them?”
How would you relate to those at work if you were absolutely certain God was with you? How would you handle your finances, your emotions, your time.
This is not meant like, “God is right beside you ready to hit you with a stick if you screw up. The idea that God is with us, means that God is for us, he is protecting us, he is guiding us. God is with us, and he has a plan to make our lives the best they can be."
Faith, then, becomes an act of trust that this is true.
Trust that changes the way I live because I have a guarantee that ultimately God has a plan to give me hope and a future. Trust that God actually loves me and hears me when I cry out to him.
Trust that God does not, has not, abandoned me in my pain but has come and entered into it.
Trust that God is leading us through our pain, our exile, and is taking us home.
Trust that God loves me
This reading from the Celtic Book of Daily Prayer puts it this way.
Often I strain and climb
and struggle to lay hold of everything I’m certain
You have planned for me.
And nothing happens:
there comes no answer.
Only you reach down to me
just where I am.
When You give me no answer
to my questions,
still I have only to raise my arms
to You, my Father
and then You life me up.
Then because You are my Father
You speak these
words of truth to my heart:
‘You are not an accident.
Even at the moment of your conception,
out of many possibilities,
only certain cells combined,
survived, grew to be you.
You are unique.
You were created for a purpose.
God loves you.’
May you trust that this is true, and may it change the way you live.