Photo credit- 10000birds.com
“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” Luke 8:15
I’m glad, Lord, that You keep having me look at faith and what a faithful response looks like. And I’m finding that living in faith and pursuing a life in faith brings a lot of hard stuff with it. I just wrote about asking You to help me let troubles roll of me like water off a duck’s back. And yesterday I received something that was as bad as a smack in the face. I mean, when trouble comes, it just hits like a freight train with the purpose of derailing us. Well, that’s the kind that comes like a sudden shock. And I suppose, I need that every now and then, because maybe I shouldn’t be able to be so easily shocked and discouraged. But then I have to ask myself, “Would You, Lord, speak to me like that?” And then I trust what You feel about me. And I know that You truly know my heart. And You know theirs. So, I’ll be O.K. as long as I hold fast to You.
I guess faith has everything to do with listening and responding correctly. Because here are these seeds that You have dispersed. And there are some that aren’t even in the direct path. They’re off to the side. They receive the word. But everything else going on is more alluring, more inviting, easier. So they hear, but they don’t hold on for long. It’s a nice idea but it’s not nice enough to give everything up for. It’s a sweet notion but not something I would change my life for. And life just runs with it and the thought is gone in no time.
And then there is an attempt at faith where there is some superficial listening and this time it goes a little deeper. It is good stuff. It brings joy to the hearer. They have a delight in Your word. It’s good stuff. It leads to good stuff. I want to be part of that good stuff. But what is their delight in? Because they don’t have any deep roots spread down. They believe for a season. That’s that same word “pisteuo.” But what were they believing? What were they entrusting themselves in? Because they believe for a while and then…a time of discipline or testing or adversity comes and they turn away, and withdraw themselves from You.
This is the part that is hard to grasp. If one has faith at one point, how can one not have faith at another? But no matter what I think, or how confusing this seems, Jesus, You Yourself tell me in Your own words that I can have a form a faith that isn’t saving faith and isn’t firmly rooted in You. That, if that is the kind of faith I have, these rough times and hard decisions will come into my life and instead of continuing in belief, I will find myself unwilling to commit to You and unwilling to respond in action to Your word.
Paul gives a similar warning in Hebrews 3:12. And I need to remember, Lord, that he is talking to real people here. This is a real situation. I want to listen to his warning. “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:12,13) There is a word that describes this, “apostasy”. Noah Webster defines apostasy as “an abandonment of what one has professed; a total desertion , or departure from one’s faith or religion.”
And I want to ask, “What caused it?” An evil heart of unbelief. Unbelief isn’t just wrong, it is evil. It is direct, rebellious opposition to You, Lord. I have to jump to John 10:26-29. “But you do not believe because you are not among My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” In the middle of the trial, in the middle of the storm, in the middle of the tragedy and the pain, Your sheep, those seeds who are rooted deeply in You, listen still and hear Your voice over the tumult. And even in the midst of the tumult, You are worth everything to follow. They have attached themselves to You no matter what. They are rooted, they are entwined. And noone or no thing can change that relationship, that fact. Only I can change that. No one can snatch me, but You won’t hold me against my will. Isn’t it sad that You will never leave us, but we so readily leave You?
Every trial either takes me deeper into belief and dependency upon You or it forces me to hop off the fence and make up my mind. And that’s where the seed in the good soil grows to deepen it’s roots. The more wind blows, the harder the seed grasps and the deeper it reaches into the soil that is You. It’s hearing the word, and holding it fast, having a heart trained up in Your goodness and Your honesty, holding it fast and bearing the fruit that You are producing through patient trust. But they weren’t just hearing words as words. They were hearing words as the Word. The Word was alive and it was in relationship. They weren’t just believing promises in a book, they were believing the Promiser. So it’s not about holding on to the promises, but all about holding on to the Promiser.
Lord, I don’t know what Your plans are for me except that they are good and Your desire is to prosper me in You and give me a hope in You and to make me glorious for You. I don’t know how You are specifically going to get me there. And You take me through some rough things on the way. But if I wouldn’t suffer through the worst things for You, then what would I suffer for? I mean, if You are truly worth everything to me, then I have to demonstrate that in my life, right? How will I really know, and how will others see, if You don’t walk me through these hard things? Lord, I pray that some day You will bring me to the point where I don’t balk at the sudden opposition any more. Bring me to the point where, one day, I will be just as joyful and at peace when the trial swamps me as I am in the absence of trial. I’m still far from that point, Lord, but You are my Only Hope, and I will cling to You with all I am because You are all I have.
I was just thinking that it’s kind of silly for me to fret over the water on my back. Especially if there I am, swimming around in a beautiful wet lake. Here I am, taking my enjoyment and nourishment from this lake, and some water gets on my back. So what? Lord, let it roll off into You and let me let You take care of it. In the mean time, while my back is still wet, let me just swim and be nourished in the sea of who You are. Train my mind as You train my heart. May my delight always be in You.