Faith: the only resolution I have this year
The past few months have been a season of serious self-reflection for me— perhaps the deepest I have gone in searching for the things that make me come alive. It started with a book club that became, quite unexpectedly, the catalyst to a number of intentional changes in my life. Then came an opportunity for leadership I thought I was ready for, but found out in the face of it that I was anything but ready. It did, however, force me through several weeks of desperate prayer and many coffee dates with people willing to listen to me cry, and in that sweet humility was a beautiful moment of reckoning: we can accomplish nothing of lasting value without Jesus and very little without each other; an invaluable lesson to learn for many reasons.
And finally there was David Platt, whose influence always seems to be a part of the biggest seasons of reorientation in my life (I’m still recovering from my 2011 encounter with Radical, but that’s another story entirely). Alex and I sat in the living room of our good friends, Dave and Kelly, with popcorn and coke and sparkling cider, and for six hours listened to David Platt teaching us how to study our Bible (#Christiansgonewild!) But y’all, I’m telling you, it was amazing. And six hours and a journal full of notes later, God’s word started to become precious to me again; in a way that it hadn’t been in several years. The longing for scripture I buried under marriage and children and sleep and the excuse that weaves its way in to all of our lives, a busy schedule, had slowly been crawling its way back to the surface for months; but the time with trusted friends and an incredible Bible teacher came in and in one swing cleared everything still in the way to the side. For a girl who grew up being told to read her Bible, who attended church faithfully, who had all the right boxes under good Christian girl checked, I thought I had this idea of faith down. But I have no idea. I have truly been reading my Bible for what feels like the first time in my life the past few months. Thank you, Jesus, for that grace.
“If Jesus didn’t think he could handle life without knowing scripture inside and out, what makes you think you can?” –Tim Keller
There is a story in the book of Matthew that Jesus, after coming down from the mountain with a few trusted friends, joins his other disciples in town where a man had been searching for healing for his son. As Jesus arrives, the man pleads with him for help, telling this Rabbi that his disciples were unable to change the horrible state of seizing his son was in. In his grace, Jesus heals the young boy, and the disciples immediately wonder why they were unable to. Jesus’ response: you did not have enough faith.
“For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” –Matthew 17:20
Stories that bring us right up close to this word—faith— are found all throughout the gospels and in the entirety of scripture. Peter could walk on water until his faith started to waver. A Samaritan woman begged Jesus for even the “crumbs” of his grace and power while another woman longed only to touch the hem of his garment, and both were commended for their great faith. And Jesus withheld healing and miraculous works in his own hometown because they did not have faith. Not because they lacked understanding, but because they lacked faith.
I have done the planning, set the goals, quite a few of them, in fact; and even began sorting through the things that need a “yes” and others that need a “no” for this coming year. I love that a new year provides us all with the space to do that with an imaginary blank sheet—amazing how motivating one turn of the calendar can be! But nothing I hope to accomplish in this year, nothing I want to become, nothing I want to make happen, carries more intention than learning what it means to have faith. Real faith.
Because my marriage needs a faith in Jesus and the selfless servanthood he modeled every day of his life.
My babies need a mom so saturated in faith that they see me living the gospel for them every single day.
My writing needs a foundation of faith so grand that it can actually accomplish the purpose God may have for it. Maybe that is just for me, my own growth and accountability, and a record for my family. And y’all, I am more than ok with that.
My friendships need the intention of a faithful friend. My home needs the fresh air that faith brings in to the room. My hopes for justice in the world and speaking for the marginalized need faith that God can and will change the painful trajectory so many lives are on.
There is not one area of my life that does not need faith. And that means that more than anything, I need faith. What I have is a somewhat educated rhetoric and a big enough Christian vocabulary to talk, at least on a surface level, about God; but something is missing. It is the thing that jumps out at me on every page of scripture right now, and what I want more than anything, that mustard seed of faith.
Right this moment, I am looking down at my youngest baby sleeping soundly, and I am begging God to show Alex and me how to live a life of great faith right in front of them. These people in my own home, they are my most important life’s work. Listening to Jordi breathe and watching his eyes dream the way only a newborn can do… moments like this remind me of who I want to be the most. And that is the journey I want God to take me on this year.
Some seasons are for building great things, others are for repenting, learning, listening, and waiting. The latter is where I am, and I’m there confidently, knowing that the work of all great things of eternal value begins in the quiet of time and space with the Creator. God needs to build my faith before He will build anything else in, through, or around me.
"God gives us the vision, then takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way. Every vision will be made real if we have the patience." -Oswald Chambers
Happy New Year, dear friends. May this be the year God does a profound, miraculous work of faith in all of us.
In an effort to give my best to this fight for faith, I will be taking, as much as is possible, a sabbatical, if you will, from social media. This year is my “valley” year, as the poetic Oswald Chambers puts it. My marriage and my family need more from me than they have been getting. My teaching job needs new intention. My writing needs a right motivation. I need to be a woman who lives to be unseen in order to make God seen. I hope and plan to write more than ever through the journey this year, but social media elevates my idol of approval more than anything, and I need the discipline of clearing that away for a time.
See you here, on the blog?