This post is taken from what I guess could be called a “journal”, although I’m fairly inconsistent in writing in it. It’s a dialogue, not a dissertation; a treatment, not a treatise. It’s been modified only slightly for posting here, but it may seem a little stilted in its phrasing. Mostly because I started off talking to myself about myself. That can be both interesting and frightening. It can also be a total bore – but I won’t intentionally post anything like that. Without warning. 8^)
I want to please God. I don’t want to displease Him.
The desire to not displease Him is stronger than the desire to please Him because I’m afraid.
I am afraid because my eyes are not wholly on Him. I am focused on my own abilities (or the lack therof, as I usually see it), and therefore feel sure that I will fail and displease Him.
I need to take me out of the equation. I need to focus on God’s ability and the abilities and gifts that he has placed within me – and any others that He yet will place within me.
As long as I am focused too much on myself and on my own ability and perceived disability, I will fail, I will fall. And anything that I do try to do will be harder than it needs to be – because I am trying to do it myself, by myself.
By works. Without faith.
Faith without works is dead – and works without faith are dead before Him. And just as easy and beneficial (and smelly) as dragging the corpse of my own flesh behind me.
Anything I do without my eyes and heart being on Him, I am doing apart from faith. The Bible says that what is not from faith is from fear. Peter walked on the water by faith – his eyes on Jesus. But as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the wind, and at the waves of the water, he allowed fear to overpower what faith that he had. His eyes were on the elements alone, so it became about his ability to walk on water alone – rather than about Jesus’s ability to empower Peter to walk on water through his faith (trust) in Jesus (God).
Peter’s mistake wasn’t in getting out of the boat, it was in taking his eyes off of Jesus. It’s not that he didn’t have any faith, it’s that he stopped using it. He started to trust in what he saw and felt more than in the One who had made them all.
It’s still plain to me that Peter pleased Jesus, though. Not because he walked on the water. But because he wanted to be where Jesus was enough to ask Jesus to call him to his side; and because he trusted Jesus enough to get out of the boat and start walking.
Eyes on my own ability – works. Limited and limiting. Seemingly paradoxical hallmarks are pride and fear (though they actually harmonize). I may take great pride in an ability, but once I am relying on my own ability alone to do everything, there may come a day when that ability fails…and great fear may take its place.
Eyes on Jesus – faith. Unlimited and de-limiting. Hallmarks are humility, joy, love, and life more abundantly. Peace – being reconciled with God and therefore made whole, one with Him.
Obeying Jesus – putting actions together with your faith. And all things become possible.
I have faith – because God gave all of us a measure of it. If I feel its “lack”, my faith is only weak from lack of consistent use – or I am feeling weak in myself from long hours of what I pray is faithful work. And it’s going on believing (and acting on that belief) in spite of my feeling a “lack” of faith which strengthens the faith that I have.
Faith doesn’t falter, faith doesn’t fail. Love never fails. If anything “falters”, it is my own grip on faith and love, my own understanding of or commitment to them. But they do not fail.
I must trust in the one calling me, for he is faithful.