Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Faith is....

            What is Faith? 

            Faith is so basic to our relationship with God.  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  So how does one go about getting faith?

            Faith is a gift God gives every person. 

            Faith grows by hearing the Word of God.

            Faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”


            Okay, so much for the standard Sunday School answers and stuff I memorized in seminary.  The battle I’m currently in with cancer has taught me more about what real faith is than all the theology classes I attended put together. 

            Several years ago I attended a conference in the Mid-West, just after I had been diagnosed with my first bout with cancer.  The attendees were so gracious to pray for me as a group.  I was in a great deal of pain at the time, and in fact had to use a wheel chair to navigate the airport going and coming from Central Oregon.  Toward the end of the conference, one of the brothers “had a word for me from the Lord”, which he had taken time to write out on paper.  I was glad he had transcribed it as I would never have been able to remember everything he “shared” with me.  Boiled down from about four, long pages, the message was pretty clear and simple:  “Brother Wes, if you had enough faith, you wouldn’t be suffering this pain and you would already be healed.”  Clear. Simple. To the point!

            That was like being dunked with a bucket of ice-cold Gatoraide (I guess—having never had the joy of that experience either.)  Suddenly all the bouyancy I had felt as the several dozen other senior leaders had lifted me before God’s Throne in faith that God would heal me was, if not gone, at least greatly diminished.  I came back to Central Oregon sobered by the contrast between the precious spirit of encouragement I felt from the leaders of the conference with this one critical brother who seemed to have “all the answers”.

            In the seven years since that time, I have had many other opportunities to think and pray about what faith really is.  Is real faith: “I refuse to be in pain because that is a symptom from the Devil”?  No, because I’ve been through enough pain to know it is not a figment of last nights’ nightmare.

            Is real faith just taking the Word of God and repeating it over and over, ten-thousand times over, until the pain just gives up and goes away because it can’t stand to hear me say one more time:  “BY HIS STRIPES I AM HEALED”?

            Please don’t misunderstand me.  I am not making fun of standing on the Word of God for healing.  Anyone close to me, especially my family, know that is not in my heart.

But the Word of God does play an important part in obtaining healing from God.  How else would we know that God wants to heal us unless we saw it in His Word?  Before I began this long battle with cancer, I could quote three, maybe four scriptures about healing—you know, all the favorites:  Is. 53:4,5, Mark 16:18 and I Peter (or is it James) 4:14 about any among you sick calling the elders to lay hands on the sick and the Lord will raise him up…”  (It is James.  I just looked it up.  Again.)

            But when I was faced with a health crisis that laid me flat on my back for two months with another 3 months before I could return to work, I got serious about finding out what God had to say about this “faith for healing” thing.  I ended up with three type written, single spaced pages of God’s direct words about healing. 

            Did you know “Healing” is one of His names?  Jehovah Rapha.  He likes to be called that. 

            Did you know that it was the compassion of Jesus that prompted Him to heal those who came to Him in faith?  And that He didn’t even have to be aware of their need for His GREAT COMPASSION to flow out and heal a woman who simply had faith to believe she would be healed of a 12 year flow of blood if she could simply touch the fringes of his garment through the crowd?

            What is faith?  For me, a working definition is:  Coming to a place where I know what God’s will is and then holding on to that no matter what—in the face of overwhelming odds.  This, of course, involves being immersed in the Bible so I can know God’s mind and heart on a given thing.  It also involves listening carefully to Holy Spirit so that I correctly understand the issues at hand.  Then it is standing on the confidence that I have heard from God and He will act on my behalf.         

            What is faith?  I feel like I’m just learning to scratch the surface.  Enough for this installment—maybe more another time.  All I know is, I want to please my Abba in Heaven.  For today, I choose to believe His Word is true, active, dividing between my places of unbelief—strengthening me in those places where I am weak.  Thank You, Holy Spirit, for Your faithfulness!

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