It really feels like it's been a long few weeks at Casa Cyber Hermit. I don't know what it was - maybe just the meds I was on that I finally had to stop (I think the kindest word my husband used was "zombie" when he was describing me on them). All in all, though, I've just been tired and kind of like both me personally and the Cyber Hermit/Spousal Unit combo are on the cusp of something.
I've been reading Yancey's Reaching for the Invisible God: What Can We Expect to Find? in bits and pieces before I go to work each day and there is a lot in the first 150 pages or so about the concepts of faith and obedience and it's really resonated with me considering the past few years where, if you looked at it from a surface perspective, it would be very easy to say God abandoned us. As I've written about before, we lost everything when God told us to start a coffee shop but, at the same time, I can look back and see where I have gained.
There is a quote from Thomas Graham in the book: "Faith is reason gone courageous." If you'd asked me at any point previous (or still), I wouldn't say I felt particularly courageous all the time. Monetary, relationship and personal issues can really sock it to a person and make you doubt. Did I really hear God? Why am I in this position now? At the same time, if I never had to exercise my faith, then God would be nothing more than a magician doing parlor tricks. There is no courage in obeying if everything is going to turn out right every time. One thing I've learned is that God gets doubt - you might even say He expects it. I think the question then becomes what do you do with it?
You trust. Two words that are really easy to read and they probaby took me less than a second to type. But to trust over what seems perfectly reasonable doubts is hard. When the Spousal Unit was at his lowest or angriest, I had to trust that God was hearing my prayers and would answer them even if I couldn't see any change. When we were wondering how to pay basic bills or buy groceries, I had to trust in a word God had given me about how He would provide us "enough". I had to accept He would answer but not necessarily on my timetable or on my terms. Faith/trust means I have to give up my will and conform to God's will and, oh, that can suck on toast - especially since we get this quid pro quo mentality with God sometimes: Hey, I did what I was supposed to. Now you hold up your end of the bargain! Thing is, God didn't promise us tit for tat. He didn't say He would explain why X, Y, or Z happened and how it's all going to eventually work itself out. When we want answers, God wants our trust. He wants us to exercise faith. And to do that we must obey without a glimpse of the full game plan. As Yancey writes, "Living in faith involves me pleasing God, far more than God pleasing me."
There was an example in the book of a process called "fracking" (no, it's not from Battlestar Galactica *g*). It is a way of creating new water flow by pumping water down a shaft at high pressure which creates enough force to shatter granite and thereby create access to water that might not have been otherwise available. The analogy to living in faith is that extreme, potentially destructive pressures, can cause a person to seek new sources of strength. That really hit me between the eyes because that felt like the description of what I've been having to do for the past few years. What God has done in the past is a kind of baseline, and I have to remember the past and use that as my assurance for what He may do next. I have to seek strength from it and find new sources of it to keep me moving forward into the future and believe whatever God puts in my life is something HE can use. My point of view is limited but His is not. Do I trust him with everything including my doubts and anger or do I push him away and cocoon myself in hurt feelings and false abandonment?
In Philippians 4, Paul writes "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." I can say I've definitely had times of contentment even while being in want which, honestly, is kinda weird for me since money issues are a big button from my childhood. Yet, even while wondering how to make it through until the next paycheck, I've been....I'd have to say "at peace". God has provided. I knew He had done so in the past and that helped me as I looked to the next day and the next week and the next month and on and on; but it requires consistency and intention on my part. I couldn't just pray about it once and figure that was going to take care of it for the next...I think it's been two years now. I still have to continue to seek His will and work on being obedient to it and have faith without qualifiers, without conditions. I have to trust in spite of every visible, rational reason telling me that I shouldn't.
Faith is reason gone courageous.