It was a long night spent sitting in cramped quarters. What was I thinking? About half way in, I began to think my traveling days were over. I reached my limit of “discomfort by choice.” And then there was a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. The Hours to Arrival ticked down and anticipation of reaching my destination began to build. You see, I got on this plane because I believed it would transport me to the place I wanted to go and even in the midst of exhaustion brought on by a long flight, a sleepless night and thoughts of “Are we there yet?” I never lost faith that I would eventually find my way to the Arrival Gate.
What is your definition of faith? Webster’s defines faith as:
a firm belief in something for which there is no proof
something that is believed with a strong conviction.
It is something believed but not only that. Webster uses words in this definition such as firm, complete, strong when it comes to that belief.
In air travel you cannot “sort of” get on the plane. One foot on land with the other in the air is just not going to work. You have to get completely on the aircraft to reach your destination. That is also the way with faith. You have to be ‘all in’ to get where arrive at the place God is taking you.
There is, however, an element of faith that is also a continuous journey. When flying, there are always a few fellow passengers wrought with anxiety. They believe with certainty that this time may just be the time they will crash and burn. They pace the aisles or pop a sleeping pill just to get through. This may not be too far from the truth in how we treat our own lives. We get up each morning and tentatively set our feet in route to see if God’s promises still apply to today’s set of problems and worries. We struggle with the pain and discomfort as we wonder if this part of this trip through life will ever end. And then, as promised we see the glimmer of hope that God is indeed delivering us safely to our appointed destination.
I think that destination just might be a complete faith; one that firmly, completely and with strong conviction puts our confidence in God’s word and his ways. I believe God is developing in us a habit in which we trust him on everything. He proves Himself over and over that there is nothing outside his power to bring the best possible outcome in us. As we go, we develop more and more assurance in Him with a confidence that He will do He says he can do. Each day that we plant our both feet firmly in that confidence brings us closer to arriving at Complete Faith.
In Romans 4:18-23, Abraham is described with the words “against all hope…he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised.”
It goes on to say, “This is why ‘it was credited to him righteousness.” These words ‘it was credited to him righteousness’ were not written for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him…” [Emphasis added.]
Righteousness. Now, that’s a pretty great perk. Let your faith grow. Be “all in” when it comes to trusting the Lord. You do not want to miss out on what God has for you.
As for me and future travel? I will continue. Living would not be as satisfying if not for the lessons God teaches through the sights and sounds of this great excursion called life.
The Lord will indeed give what is good…” Psalms 85:12
You count on it!
It’s been some time since I visited Tajikistan, but the lessons will remain in my heart forever.
Our plane touched down in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. We were all ushered into a cement block building to wait in line for passport control. One-by-one we were summoned into a small room to present our visas and answer a few questions. Small problem. I didn’t speak Farsi. I stood there, listening very carefully but not comprehending. Somehow the man behind the desk seemed satisfied with the documents and my affirming nods that he released me from his presence.
Outside the building and reunited with my traveling companions, I was caught up a flurry of activity. Porters were grabbing at our luggage trying to gain a few American dollars in their pockets. Owners of taxis crowded in demanding that we use their service. It all felt very confusing and a bit scary trying to make my way in a strange land in the dark of night.
Then a familiar face came into view. Our contact came toward us warning off the aggressive drivers. He grabbed the bags and motioned for us to follow. He guided us safely to a van that was waiting to transport us to our destination.
As the week played out, I learned many things about the culture I had been plopped in the middle of. Village life was quite different from the world I had left at home. For safety’s sake, an escort was needed wherever I went. I covered my hair so I would not find myself the topic of whispers and ridicule. Bathrooms were a challenge. Electricity was intermittent. Meals were served on the floor. Men and women did not socialize in public. There were military check points, calls to worship, and houses hidden by high walls and locked gates.
Yes. Everything was different and if it had not been for my guide I would not have been able to navigate through the rules of this community. What I knew of life did not make sense in this culture. It was all so foreign.
In my current trek through Psalm 119, I came across a similar thought in the second segment of the book.
“Open my eyes so that I can truly see the marvelous things in your law. I am like a foreigner in this land. Do not hide your commandments from me. I desperately long to know your regulations at all times.”
Oh, how God’s ideas can seem strange to us.
Like the Psalmist, it sometimes feels like we are in a foreign land when we are learning about God’s ways. What we knew of life is now turned upside down. The culture is new. The language seems odd. It isn’t always easy to wrap our minds around why things work better His way. We need Him to guide us. Then, little-by-little, we begin to see how the customs of this unfamiliar place start to make sense. As we put into practice those marvelous things He reveals, they spare us from humiliation as they guide us to success. It’s beautiful when it starts to come together.
As for the rest of my time in the Tajik culture? Before my trip concluded, candlelight in the power outage became romantic. A glimpse of a married couple sharing a private conversation seemed mysterious and precious. Even the lessons in tying my head covering the right way or how to apply the perfect unibrow [ I have a photo somewhere.] made me feel more connected with the people of that country.
I began to get it.
Their ways worked in context with their culture. What seemed strange when I began my time there became normal and comfortable before I left. Foreign no more—Tajikistan, its people and their ways occupy a place in my heart that brings great joy each time my thoughts wander there.
But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
Jude 1 ESV
Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Life can get a little tricky when you’re all tied up.
As we can see from His response when Lazarus walked out of his grave, Jesus knew this fact. You can read the entire story in John 11:1-44. Those who witnessed the miracle were told to remove his grave clothes and let Lazarus go. He would need his hands, feet, and eyesight to get on with his new life.
Now that we have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus this past weekend, perhaps we should give some thought to our own resurrected lives. Have we removed our grave clothes and walked into our new life? Or are we hopping around sightless, still caught up in worldly wrappings?
This may be where I was lacking in my first years as a Christian.
I knew Jesus but I couldn’t follow very well because I had not removed my grave clothes. They kept tripping me up and hobbled my progress. And seeing which way Jesus went was impossible with a blindfold on. Then there was the smell. I still reeked of death. I had been called out of the grave but hadn’t completely given up worldly living. My life did not display the real miracle which had occurred making me alive.
Many places in the New Testament says that if we are in Christ—accepting His gift of forgiveness for our sin—then we are made alive in Jesus. One passage found in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, says we are
“a new creation; old things have passed away, and new things have come.”
Those “old things” that are gone, they are sins that bind us up.
Romans 6 really helps us understand our new life in Christ. Romans 6:4 says, “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way.” That way we can be free from the trappings of our old life. Just as Lazarus, our resurrection from the dead life we were leading is to bring glory to the Father. How can glory be accomplished if we continue in our old ways? We must take our grave clothes off and walk unhampered into our new lives with Jesus.
“For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the fact that He lives, He lives to God. So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
John 11 ESV