Our pastor has been teaching on faith this month. My husband and I recently went on a spiritual retreat with another couple, and we looked more deeply at faith. Faith in the sermon or in the solitude is one thing. But what does faith in the ordinary look like?
God allows crisis in our lives on the road to faith in the ordinary.
Crisis doesn’t always have to look like tragedy. When I talk about crisis I am talking about the unusual. Those times of retreat or spiritual mountain tops definitely qualify as crisis. Times when we very clearly hear from God in our lives; we are given insight or direction or correction. When we feel united with saints of old who heard God speak from the cleft of the rock or face-to-face or in visions or dreams. For most of us, these are not every day kinds of events.
Sometimes these are scheduled in our lives (like the festivals that Israel had throughout the year or like our recent retreat). Other times they are situations in our lives brought from personal crises (sitting in hospital waiting rooms while loved ones are in surgery or holding the hands of a dear friend who is getting closer to the Gates of Glory or kneeling by the bedside with our husband praying for financial deliverance when we see no way out). Hopefully we have all had some time of this deep spiritual revelation in our lives.
We love those times of true and deep connection with the supernatural. The feeling of God’s presence so close we can almost physically touch it! This is often the place where we want to live.
But sometimes, God takes us to places of faith that have little to do with seeing the spectacular on a daily basis.
Learning to live by faith in the ordinary is, I believe, a thing of beauty to God.
Crisis produces process.
The process of our lives:
those times of living – sometimes plodding – through life is when we get to work INTO our lives the things God revealed TO our hearts and minds during those times of crisis.
Just as our salvation has different parts (justification, sanctification, glorification), so too our lives of walking by faith has different parts. The crisis part is often one of heightened connection to the supernatural (well, heightened in that we are much more aware of it on a cognitive level). The process part is where we actually get to let the things learned in the crisis take root and shape in us. We learn how to follow in obedience and how to keep going during times where we are tempted to waver.
A friend said that the “little faith” Jesus is continually talking about isn’t referring to the AMOUNT of faith – but rather the CONSTANCY of faith.
- the 70 went out in groups to heal the sick and cast out demons
- they came back and lost it when they couldn’t cast out a particular demon
- they watched Jesus feed the 5,000
- they got freaked out when Jesus warned them about the leaven of the pharisees, thinking he was talking about them not bringing bread
- Peter walks on water to go to Jesus
- he starts to sink when his eyes go to his circumstances
In each of these situations, the disciples displayed faith in the Son of God, only to fail miserably with the inconstancy of that faith!
Process develops what crisis begins.
Learning (and growing in) this walk of faith in the ordinary days of our lives is critical to our character and endurance. We are not sprinting as believers. We don’t run on nerves for those short spurts where we put everything on the line to crash and burn at the end. I’m reminded of the scene from Chariots of Fire where Sam Mussabini (the coach) says: “But a short sprint is run on nerves. It’s tailor-made for neurotics.” But when he talks about Eric Liddel, he says that he’s a gut runner, that he digs deep.
Our lives of faith are learning to dig deep. To press in to the heart and mind of God, to continue to run even when we feel there is nothing left for us to run with. Letting the truths we learned in the crisis keep us constant in the process of our lives; the ordinary of life.
Living by faith in the ordinary is:
- being faithful in the Word and prayer, not as duty but as love
- pressing in to God when we feel alone and lonely
- living as the hands and feet of Jesus to those around us
- doing our dishes to the glory of God
- discipling that young mom who is struggling to see hope
- living on our knees for our children
- committing to be faithful to our husbands
- trusting God with joy and meaning it
- pointing the way to Jesus
- being real in our sorrows but faithful in our hope
Sanctification IS process – it is our faith in the ordinary.
Walking out this process of faith IS our sanctification. It is a part of our salvation that God prepared us to walk in. Are we bugged that God has us in this time of living by faith in the ordinary? Are we scurrying from event to event, from teacher to teacher, from experience to experience because we love the crisis feeling? Sometimes we do.
But we need to see the beauty and tenderness of those times of process. The Father heart of God has set these as times of training, strengthening and faithfulness in our lives. They give us the depth in our souls so that when we do have to dig deep (as Eric Liddel could in Chariots of Fire), there is actually something to find! He is building in us the character of Jesus. When we dig deep, THAT is who is found in us – Jesus.
What does this process, this faith in the ordinary look like in YOUR life?