i shared my story of focusing on faith for a year & how i learned more from failure than from any successes. still, i did learn. some of the things i learned may seem like common sense, obvious, & profoundly unprofound. but like i said in the last post, knowing these things in my head, from books & lessons, is incredibly different from knowing them in my soul, from my own experiences. my hope in sharing these lessons with you is not that you will be struck with the profundity of them, but that reading about them will cause you to be more observant of these same patterns & realities in your own faith journey, hopefully propelling you further along the way. being able to put into words the things i learned through my year on faith has done this very thing for me.
>> we can have faith because God is faithful.
it is recounted over & over in the pages of scripture. God is faithful. we can trust Him. we don't have to be afraid because He is with us. He will not fail us. [that statement alone has carried me through more darkness than i can recount.] this is true even today. anyone who has walked with God for very long can share their own stories of His faithfulness. some stories are miraculous & exciting. others are simple, taking place among the mundane. but all are true & important. our faith is pointless without something worthy in which to place that faith. God is infinitely worthy. He proved it over & over in bible times. He proves it over & over today.
>> it is important to remember how He's been faithful in our pasts.
those stories of God's faithfulness are important, & we would be wise to remember them, record them, & recount them. establishing memorials is an ancient practice of God's people. the passover is one of the most prominent memorials that God established so the israelites would remember that He delivered them from slavery in egypt. my personal favorite is the story of the ebenezer stone. in first samuel, the ark was captured by the philistines, then it was returned. the israelites mourned their sinfulness against the Lord &, per samuel's instructions, they got rid of all their idols & gathered together for samuel to intercede for them. while gathered together in prayer, the philistines came to attack them. the israelites cried out to samuel to keep praying. the Lord thundered against the philistines & threw them into a panic so that the israelites could easily defeat them. samuel sets up a memorial stone & calls it ebenezer [which means "stone of help"], & he says, "thus far has the Lord helped us." that phrase has become something of a slogan that i've used in my faith journey. the implication is that God has helped us so far, & He will help us again!
i have taken this story to heart, & when i began regularly journaling in 2006 in conjunction with my focus on faith, i came to refer to my journals [there are now several tomes] to my ebenezers. they are filled with my own stories of how i have seen God faithful in my life. an answered prayer, a needed friend, a conflict resolved, a new lesson learned, a victory achieved. these stories remind me that if He helped me then, He can & will help me now. He'll come through for me again. the practice of recording & remembering these experiences -- setting them up as "memorial stones" -- has significantly contributed to my increased faith. life is uncertain, whether you follow God or not. but when you walk with the Lord & actively remember what He has done for you, you can turn around anytime & see your path strewn with ebenezer stones. and it gives you the courage to take the next step into the unknown, with Him by your side.
>> it's never easy, but it gets easier.
faith in God is not easy. it is "being sure of what we hope for & certain of what we do not see" [hebrews 11:1]. these things are not easy for temporal, tangible creatures like us. that is why recording the times when we do observe God's presence & experience His help is so important. when the enemy surrounds us with temptation or the storms of life rage around us, it is difficult to keep God & His promises in view. we need good memories in these times. we need to practice faith now & in the "small" things so that we can be ready when bigger trials come. and come, they will. standing firm against the enemy will never be easy. surviving the storms of life will never be easy. but we have great strength & assured victory in all things when we have faith in God to fight in our stead & to bring peace to/in the storm. and we have great hope when we have faith that God will bring good through any thing, no matter how awful. relying on His strength & goodness makes these times of trial so much easier. but it requires faith. not just faith in God existing, but faith in God coming through for us, being who He says He is, doing what He says He will do. we need to exercise this faith now & record His faithfulness in our pasts. He never promised this life would be easy. but He did promise that walking through this life with Him is easier. "My yoke is easy, & My burden is light" [matthew 11:30].