Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Me of Little Faith

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me! Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
Matthew 14:30-32 (NIV)

My good friend Sunnie has a new blog. Besides being a wonderful friend, Sunnie is also the children's minister at our church. She does an amazing job. When I read her last blog entry, it got me thinking about faith in general and MY faith in particular. I thought I would share with you a little of what came to mind.

Hopefully, I won't shock any of you with this revelation, but I have never been great at blind faith. There are times when I have questions, times when I have doubts, and times when I wonder if what I believe is all just a figment of my imagination. There have been entire seasons of my life when I have felt distant from God and have found myself just "going through the motions" in regard to my faith.

The time I struggled the most was while we were living in England. I had just spent a really difficult year in the ministry (just out of college) and was incredibly disillusioned with the church and with Christians in general. I was doubting myself, my abilities, my purpose in life, and I guess I was doubting God as well. I don't know if I realized it at the time, but I started falling into a depression during that year of ministry and spiraled further down the following year while living in England. If ever I had a crisis of faith, it was then. Rich was at school working on his Masters Degree. I was alone A LOT. I went from working 60+ hours in ministry each week to not working at all in a foreign country where I knew no one and where no one knew me. Most days, it was just God and I. I had successfully run away from the difficult situation, but I really couldn't run away from Him. We had some talks, He and I. Mostly one-sided ones where I was crying out to Him. And He listened. He showed me some things in the beauty of the countryside, in the lofty cathedrals, in the liturgy of the church, and in the silence of my loneliness. He taught me that I had been putting my faith in people (Christians) and not in Him. He taught me that my worth was not found in other people's opinions of me...or even my own, but in His and His ALONE. It was a healing time for me, a learning time for me, a growing up time for me, and a faith restoring time for me.

I wish I could say that was my last "crisis" of faith, and that since then I've been a pillar of faithfulness. Not so. Yet still, my God is infinitely patient with me in the process. And when I start to have doubts, he lovingly throws me a lifeline, a little something to keep me afloat. Maybe in the form of a thirst quenching worship service, a relevant scripture, the testimony of a stranger, an answered prayer, a glimpse of his amazing creation, even a MIRACLE or two, until once again my sickly faith has been renewed.

14 comments:

Janelle said...

Alana,

Thank you for sharing this testimony. I love to see how God has worked through you because of that time in your life. He changed you in that season and we get the benefit of that maturity.

Sharing about our faith is important for others that might struggle witht he same thing.

Thank you!

Sparky said...

Faith is at the very core of our belief system. I can't imagine living my life without faith, yet often times I struggle over my lack of faith. Having faith requires us to put our belief in something we can't touch, feel or smell. I guess one could say it's abstract. Losing my mom was an incredible test of faith for me. Not understanding God's plan, but trusting that it was right. Not wanting to lose my mom, but knowing that her time, her purpose in this life had been fulfilled...she was going home. I still don't understand, I still don't like it, it still makes me incredibly sad and at times angry with God, but I have faith and I hold on tight trusting that His plan is perfect and just. Faith for me is an action verb. It's a choice I make every day to put my faith in a God that is loving, full of mercy and endless amounts of grace.

The Small Scribbler said...

I have spent the last year alone and my faith has grown enormously as a result of this time between just me and God. But there are times that I have doubts too.

September 11th was one of those times. I was shaken that the terrorists were so convinced that their beliefs were right that they were willing to die for what they believed in. It made me do some real searching after why I believe what I believe. God has been faithful to show himself true. He is bigger than my doubts and questions. Thank goodness!

Kate

Rochelle said...

Thank you for this post. I really needed it tonight. :)

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

Alana,

Boy can I relate to this post! In fact, I've chronicled my faith journey & will email you links to those posts. I just taught a lesson about Jesus in the garden...how He asked God 3 times to take the cup. Even though He was ultimately obedient, it wasn't easy for Him & it won't be for us.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions of the Church is that we think we're supposed to be above doubting God, and something's wrong with us if we do have doubts. The Bible is filled with people who questioned God and His plan for them.

I'm not saying we have carte blanche to be weak in our faith. But I do know God is fully aware of our shortcomings, and He loves us anyway.

Blessings, my sweet friend!

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

I was going to email you, but don't have your email address. Can you go to my profile & email me so I can send you the links?

Suzi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carissa said...

alana...truly...such a great post. love knowing this about you. about your time in england. about the way your heart responds to the Lord. my life could be a case study in ugly honesty towards the Lord. and that has certainly involved lots of times of doubting faith. i think being honest about our lack of faith before the Lord is so honoring to Him. he can handle it and he loves our honesty. for me, it has been a pathway to increased intimacy with Him. sounds like it has been for you too! very cool stuff! again, great post!

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

Alana,

Per your request, I'm going to try to link my post.

Click here

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

UGH...I can't get it to work!

Suzi said...

My post needed some punctuation! I hope it makes a little more sence now;)

I think it's great that you shared this with us! It seems to me that I have always had faith in God. And i only credit that to the fact that i am simple minded, so it comes easy for me. I know without a doubt He is real, but my issue is in trusting Him with all of my heart, all the time, for everything! I don't know why it's so hard for me sometimes! Like you, I cried out to Him and He listened! I love what Romans 10:17 says;

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

I cling to that verse beacuse I know His Word is life and when I pour myself into it, my Faith and Trust increase!

P.S- You lived in England...Neat!

Suzi said...

sense or sence? See I'm simple:D

Alana said...

Melissa's Post

Check out post that Melissa was talking about in her comment above. Thanks for sharing more on this topic, Melissa!

sharongustafson said...

Thank you also for your transparency. It is so encouraging to know that we are not alone in our struggles..we all have them now and again, and I believe that when we share our experiences with others that is where we "grow the most" I am so happy to have someone else out there who knows and loves the Lord with all thier heart, but is also a human being with real feelings and emotions just like everyone else. We are not bullet proof just becuase we are christians, like so many people think. I am also so glad for your friendship. i really enjoy worshipping with you on the Praise Team. You are such a talented and beautiful person! Sincerely, Sharon