Faith in the making
On 11 November 2015, God issued a call to consecrate myself, and with it came the pain of surrender and denying my flesh. It came at a time where I had thought of myself as a mature Christian: someone who was able to resist sin, overcome specific struggles, and was sufficiently self-aware in not making the same mistakes in life. As God dealt with my self-reliance in a four hour spiritual wrestle, I was forced to count the cost of following Christ again. That very evening, I left the 24/7 prayer room with swollen eyes and a “laid-down” life.
Fast forward to this year, I found myself in a season of accelerated spiritual growth, as I pursued and responded to a calling I had waited on for five years. After serving for almost 13 years in the youth ministry at my home church, I was loving serving Christ more than ever. There were barely signs of dysfunction and I walked in great joy and confidence.
However, just when I thought my spiritual life had gained a steady momentum, God pulled the brakes: Not once, but four times on separate occasions over the course of these past seven months.
On each occasion, God asked me the same question: “Nat, are you really willing to give up your life for My sake?” When He asked the first two times, I knew they were reminders of the commitment I had made as He vividly reminded me of how I surrendered my family, career, ministry, and unfulfilled dreams to Him.
However, when God asked the third and fourth time, I grew impatient and questioned if He even believed me when I said yes to Him. Moreover, God put His finger on the most vulnerable area of my heart — my long-distance relationship — and showed me that I had taken control back into my own hands and this control was increasing at an unhealthy rate. At that point, I understood Peter’s pain in John 21:15–17 when Jesus asked him thrice, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
I felt anger and confusion rise in my heart because it was as if God was not convinced that I had meant what I said. In that moment of shaking, my faith began to waver and I felt a familiar fear creep into my heart, almost instantly reverting to an old self that I thought I had gotten rid of. Everything in me was tempted to retract my commitment to God because I was getting fed up, and wondered if this surrendered life was even worth it.
In the midst of working through my anger — wiping the endless flow of tears and nursing a confused and wounded heart — God gave me truths to hang on to. They are essential to the Christian journey when the breaking and building of faith is concerned:
Even when my faith is broken, God’s hope does not disappoint.
Through the testing and shaking, God revealed how my faith had been rooted in self-dependency rather than trusting in His providence. As a result, my focus shifted off Christ and became fixed upon the alluring worries the world offered.
These holes in my faith were confronted when my heart was struck by the revelation of Romans 5:5 (NKJV): “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” I paused and read this verse many times over because I had never noticed the phrase “hope does not disappoint” before!
A conversation ensued with God soon after. I remember asking Him, “How can I still hang on to hope in my pain?” His firm yet loving reply became the reason for this article: “Just as I cannot change, My hope will not change. It is steadfast, steady and true to you. Even when your faith is broken, I cannot and will not disappoint.”
Titus 1:2 reflects this, “…in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” If I can hope in the promised eternal life, and if God cannot lie, then I must have renewed faith to believe in Him! Our hearts will take time to get restored, but today, I believe God wants to remind us that we are not alone in our journeys of discovering our brokenness and His wholeness.
God is trustworthy and I can choose to trust Him.
Upon reflection, God pulled the brakes on me not because He is a sinister killjoy but because I needed to confront the condition of my heart and one look was simply not enough. As our Christian walks are marathons rather than sprints, I am acutely aware that God will continue pulling the brakes in the days to come.
To trust God with “all our heart, soul, mind, and strength” may be a well-known verse but faith-filled characters like King David lived and modelled them. In 2 Samuel 22:29-31 (NKJV), David confessed, “For You are my lamp, O Lord; The Lord shall enlighten my darkness, for by You I can run against a troop; by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”
I can trust God and His word because He has never failed His people. God didn’t fail David when He rescued him from the hand of Saul. I believe God is trustworthy because I have not come across an incident in the Bible where God didn’t come through to rescue one in need.
As I read the Bible, it fascinated me that whenever trust was mentioned in the Psalms, the phrases often used would either be “I will trust” or “I put my trust.” Through this season, I was reminded again that choosing to trust God is my decision, based on my free-will. My mind doesn’t need convincing about whether I can trust God or not, because the truth is: He can always be trusted! The question is: Am I willing to put my trust in His? Do I want to put my trust in Him?
I’ve come to see that this unexpected twist to my story was actually an invitation to deeper commitment and intimacy with God. The curve ball was actually an open door that beckoned for me to step in.
Dear comrades in the faith, perhaps you, too, have grown weary and tired of taking up your cross and following Christ. Today, I stand with you and confess that my faith is still in-the-making. Would you take courage and have the perseverance to let God heal and strengthen your broken faith?
May we learn to embrace that God will throw curve balls our way, in which we are taken on unexpected turns. However, let us place our hope in the truth that He has never meant us harm and yearns for us to believe what Revelation 3:7 says, “…He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.” He is opening a door and making a way for us to take one more step towards wholeness in Him.