This past week's sermon had to do with things I've had to do a lot: asking and waiting. More specifically, it was about prayer. The promises and conditions of "whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." (Matthew 21:22)
I got all kinds of hung up on that "Big Condition" of faith.
Because when the burden is fully on God's capable, eternal, all-knowing shoulders, I can start to grasp that maybe I'll “receive.” But when my faith is the deciding factor, let's not hold our breath. I’m not known for moving mountains and, frankly, placing that kind of responsibility on my faith isn’t something I’m very comfortable with. After all, when it comes to rearranging geography and such, aren’t those matters best left up to God?
That’s where my asking and waiting comes in.
I've realized over the past few weeks that while I may ask, I rarely wait. Or at least the waiting I've been doing lately has been pretty non-participatory. It’s waiting room waiting. The kind of waiting that doesn’t require much of me and puts all of the initiative and responsibility on the other party.
I ask God to reveal something. No answer. I ask God again. No answer. I'm a fairly stubborn person (to say the least) so this can continue indefinitely and that’s not really my point.
I’m talking about what happens to the rest of my life while I'm waiting for that answer. I've taken God's lack of answering as it's own solution - that I'm not budging until I hear his answer. Or, in other words, until I get what I want. Meanwhile, the rest of the world continues and my life stays apathetically on hold. Putting off decisions, dodging commitments and keeping everything else to a bare minimum. Because, let's not get too comfy, I know this is only temporary until I get my answer
The Bible gives plenty of examples of people who were called to wait until God answered them (emphasis on the “calling.”) But my waiting has been more like a stake-out, or maybe one of those union protests at a building site. I’ve got my lawnchairs and a 20 foot blow-up rat and I’m staying put until God decides to be more reasonable.
And that's not really the same thing as faith, is it?
Faith looks more like what's described in Hebrews 11:13-
"Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world." (The Message)
In the light of those examples, it seems like waiting for an answer isn't faith at all. It seems more like my excuse to do nothing. To be faithless. Most importantly, my waiting has allowed me to ignore everything I’m called to in the meantime.
In the words of Pastor Nate, my active faith aligns myself with God to receive. Active faith. Faith that's still busy loving, serving, listening, obeying and worshipping a Holy God, not just sitting on the couch waiting for him to call me back and give me what I want.
It seems that it takes as much faith to ask as it does to continue faithfully honoring everything else God has put in my life, while I wait. That I would wait in the midst of my active faith, instead of the other way around.
So even if I don't have "in hand what was promised", I do still have a promise to base my faith on: that He always keeps His word. Maybe I’ll never get my answer; maybe my answer is still a long way off. Or maybe I already have my answer to be faithful and committed in what I’ve already been given. But ultimately, my faith still rests in a good God, never in just the answer itself.
Blog entry by: Jess Noblett