I understand only too well what faith looks like both dead and alive as I have experienced both. I have experienced a complete lack of trust in God, I have experienced anger with God, I have ignored God completely and rested on my own strength and I have doubted the very existence of God. I have fooled myself by believing I was alive in faith when, in reality, my faith was dead.
Recently, thanks be to God, I have discovered what faith looks like when it is alive!! Lockdown has literally saved my husband and I. While, before our faith was dead, we are now truly alive in Christ! We live for Jesus. Previously, my husband, like many others, whiled away his days staring at his phone, now, he wakes at 5am for prayer and study before work at 9am. He had intended to sleep until 7 or 8 at the weekend but he has been unable to, he is too excited to spend time with God! He is reading an impossible number of books in order that he can write a book for new Christians exploring who Jesus is! I have spent lockdown making lots of new Christian friends, I have undertaken various studies and summits which have inspired me greatly, without them I would not be writing this blog! Our plans are no longer our own and we are happier than we have ever been! I woke this morning after a very disturbed night’s sleep and I thought I will just have a relaxing day, finish the book I am reading entitled “God’s Smuggler”, catch up on some housework and do some craft. God had other ideas! As I began to get ready and look forward to my lazy day, my mind became inundated with thoughts. This has happened a lot since I became “alive” especially since I started writing my blog! This told me that God had other plans for my day! So here I am trying to assemble my racing thoughts into coherent English once again. You may ask, how do you know this is of God? The answer is simple, because despite my idea of a relaxing day being turned on its head and my plans being totally disrupted, I am happy, I am excited, I am eager. At the drop of a hat, my plans changed, and I delighted in it. I delight in it because I know that this is God’s will, that by writing this I please God and that by writing this I may help even one person who is struggling with their faith.
Coming to faith or indeed recognizing your faith is dead can be torturous, it can be mentally exhausting, you can be confused about who you are! For years I was at war with myself, I was a soldier in a silent battle between God’s will and my own. When I was defeated and accepted God’s victory, I then became swamped with questions, far more than I could find answers to! By my own selfishness I had kept Jesus at arm’s length and, inevitably, this is why my personal journey was so difficult. I did not want to let go of “my life”. I liked my life just the way it was, or at least I thought I did. It took far too long but, finally, I realised that the very things I thought made me happy were having the opposite effect. Life will never go the way we want it to all the time and therefore, focussing on oneself is unlikely to lead to happiness. This is a difficult concept to understand as it contradicts our modern thinking which advises “Be who you want to be!”, “Do what makes you happy!”” etc. etc. This may work when you are employed, healthy, in love etc. What happens when you are sick, you lose your job, your partner leaves, how do we just make ourselves happy then? The reality is true happiness and contentment is found only in Jesus. The peace and happiness that rests in your heart when you finally ditch your sense of self and accept God’s will in your life is unlike anything else one can experience.
So how can you achieve this? Well, for me, it was learning to trust God, to completely trust that everything that is happening in my life right now is God’s will and that it is for the good. I may not see the good in this lifetime, but I trust at some point, I will! It is surrounding yourself with faithful believers. Lockdown has provided so many opportunities for me to join in different church services, bible studies, summits, conferences etc. that I otherwise would have been unable to attend. This has literally changed my life, from the Cheerfully Given Creative Christianity Summit which turned me from an adamant uncreative whose biggest artistic achievement would be the sun, grass, bird, house picture of a four year old child to a buzzing creative with her own craft trolley, who is so full of ideas that she carries a notebook around with her at all times so that her head does not explode! The Aberdeen Christian Fellowship Big Church Weekend which brought my husband and I into the community of believers in Christ who welcomed us warmly. The Alpha Course where we met fabulous new friends who we keep in touch with regularly, we chat, we laugh, we pray for each other and, God willing, we will soon meet each other face to face for a time of fellowship. Watching Angus Buchan’s Mighty Men’s Conferences which due to Covid are broadcast online! Seeing the faithful heart of Angus Buchan inspires us so much to follow in his footsteps, to live our lives for Christ. Watching an African Church Service where praise is paramount, little is spoken without “Amen” or “Halleluiah”. This is the faith I strive for, the faith to praise Jesus without fear or embarrassment. A “Get Out Of Your Head Bible Study” where as a group of women we come together to discuss our struggles and our faith, we pray for each other and we learn from each other and I see Jesus in each and every one of these woman. Scripture tells us how important it is to fellowship with one another, Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
I fully understand the fears that you may have as new Christians reaching out to believers. It can be difficult; I understand that churches can be cliquey, and some church goers may not be approachable. I want to say to you that this is your time!! Coronavirus may have been meant for bad, but God is using it for good. I would not have had the confidence to attend the above in person and though I was still apprehensive, sitting in my own house, in my chilling clothes made things much easier! I did not have to worry about my appearance, I did not have to worry about whether I could escape if I were uncomfortable and anxious because all I needed to do was press the Leave Meeting button! Luckily, I have never felt the need to do this! So, I urge you, give it a go! Sign up for Alpha, watch a church service, sign up to Bible Studies or small groups. Just have a peek and see!!
For the church, this is the time to rise to the challenge. Statistics show a huge rise in church attendance during this pandemic, people are interested, people want to know more, people need Jesus. Acts 2:46-47 “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” 1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
Like Martin Luther King Jr I too have a dream and mine is this … that we will see the Church of God come alive. That the church will unite throughout the world focussing on union and not division. That this church will exist for the glory of God and that the living Word of God will be preached with joy and love and without errancy. That this church will welcome each and every soul as their brother or sister, that they will be welcomed with open arms and encouraged each step of their journey and that those who arrive as strangers, leave as family. I dream that this church will heal the sick and save the lost. That testimonies will be shared with joy and fervour. That the praise will be resounding and powerful that those outside of the building may know that God is alive. That the walls of this church will tremble from the vociferous preaching held in its midst and that this good news will flow to the ends of the earth and not be silenced. That no brother or sister is left in any need, but is provided for financially, practically, and emotionally and that this church stands together, shoulder to shoulder with each other living out the graceful love of God.
Ephesians 2:19-20 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”
Romans 12:4-5 “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
1 Corinthians 12:13 “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
Let this season of tragedy emerge a season of triumph! Let the people come!!
Love and Blessings