Beth suggests a reason as to why we as Christians aren't reaching our promised lands: "The reason most of our present belief systems aren't working is because they are big on systems and small on belief... Faith is the only think that will ever close the gap between our theology and our reality." (p. 15) You, like me, may believe that God is enough and all powerful but when it comes to our personal lives that is where his power and his being enough ends. I currently struggle with the belief that God can do anything but if he actually will is another story. I think my mistake has been the desire for instant gratification. I've seen God as one who picks and chooses when he'll heal me or reveal himself to me dismissing the fact that I do not escape this world without consequences because it is a fallen world. "....we may as well accept faith challenges as a fact of life and not be shocked or feel picked on when they come..... He delights in nothing more that our choice to believe Him over what we see and feel." (p.17)
Perhaps the quote that got me thinking the most was, "Our ultimate purpose for existence is to please God; therefore, if we don't exercise faith, we will never fulfill our reason for being." (p.17) Friends here is a confession: I live to please myself, not God. I throw tantrums, shake my fist, and turn my back when life doesn't go the way I think I deserve for it to go. I ignore that God is trying to teach me something in my crappy circumstances that could build character and endurance like the scriptures say. I allow myself pity parties and stay angry only further harming myself. Meanwhile Satan's doing a victory dance. "When all is said and done, the biggest sacrifice of our lives will be when we choose our own way and forfeited God's pleasing will for us." (p.17) Does that possibility scare you like it does me? I'm realizing that obeying God and believing him, doesn't just come from a place of love (another area I really need to work on) but out of trust in Him. And if I can't trust God, I am not only not in relationship with him, I'm in danger of believing things about him that just aren't true. Again, Satan: 2,Lexi-0. My salvation and destination may be ensured but my life has remained open-season for the enemy.
Hebrews 11:6 says "Without faith it is impossible to please God." I haven't had much faith these last couple of years so it isn't difficult to put two and two together here. Matthew 9:29 offers the consequences of this place. "According to your faith will it be done to you." Beth brings up both of these verses in Chapter 2 and it's a sobering wake-up call from the Believers who have gone before us. My life has been pretty lifeless as I dwell on what I no longer have and hope for things that are seen instead of unseen. "Nothing on earth compares to the strength God is willing to interject into lives caught in the act of believing." Here is where I echo the words of the sick boy's father (ironically the story is told just several verses above Matthew 9:29 in verse 24). "Help my unbelief!" And I'd add: Forgive me, Lord.
"God is calling you and me to leave the life of passivity bred by a past-tense view of faith and get caught in the act of present-active-participle believing."
"God exerts an incomparable power in the lives of those who continue believing Him. Hear it again: Nothing on earth compares to the strength God is willing to interject into lives caught in the act of believing."
"He can forgive and purify the vilest sinner. God's specialty is raising dead things to life and making impossible things possible. You don't have the need that exceeds his power."
The last part of the last quote I shared is my favorite, it is so encouraging. I don't have the need that exceeds his power. It's this truth that causes my soul to hope in Jesus. I hope he is filling you with this kind of soul hope too.