29 October 2008

living in belief or circumstance?

So much of how I view the world is based solely on my circumstances. I like to think that others have this view also, that it is not just a crazy, mixed up Kristina way of thinking as I tend to have sometimes. But really, it is pretty sad. I can have an instant mood change based on external happenings or internal processing. The slightest thing can set me off one way or another. I cry and laugh at the drop of a hat. Some of that I love, but some...well... Until recently it had never occurred to me that there was a fault in living based on circumstances. Embarrassingly enough I just thought that is how I had to live.

There is a fault though, and quite a big one at that. Jesus calls us to believe. I tentatively put forth the argument that He calls us to believe above all else. Believe in Him, that He is saviour, son of God, light of the world, truth, justice, love and peace. If we believe first and foremost, then it should follow that everything becomes secondary because believing (read: trust) becomes the focus and there are less questions, doubts, fears, anxiety, uncertainty. Doubt brings in confusion, it causes unnecessary questions about life, about situations, it causes us to wonder where we are going, why we are going there and how in the hell we will actually get there. Belief eases the pain. Believing in a truth greater than ourselves, believing in a purpose, a plan, a hope; believing that there is a journey, a guide and a path laid before our feet allows us to walk freely, knowing we are protected.

Protected. I use to take issue with that. If I believe than that means it’s easy? It means that nothing bad will happen? I will be protected? I finally found solace to that question in the book of Daniel. It is a common story, the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. To summarise, they refuse to bow down and worship the idol that King Nebuchadnezzar has created. They refuse to bow to anything short of God himself. They are brought before the king, who is furious, and he demands that they worship the idol or face the penalty of death by being thrown alive into a pit of fire. Even faced with certain death they answer “O King, it is not to you we have to justify ourselves. The God we serve is powerfully enough to deliver us from your hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, we will not bow down and worship the idol you have made” (Daniel 3:17-18). They believed. They believed regardless of the outcome. Belief for these 3 was not dependent upon wealth, happiness, reward or favour. It was belief regardless of circumstance. It was true belief. So yes, believing means that we will be protected; maybe not in the way we as humans see fit, but protected as sons and daughters of the Lord Jesus Christ. Protected and brought into his loving arms in the way (and time) that he sees as best.

Living according to circumstance would have forced Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to not only have worshiped the idol, but given up on their belief long before that opportunity even presented itself. They probably would have given up when they were first taken into captivity, moved away from friends and family, had their names changed, forced to work as slave labour, all the while struggle for food and shelter. If it had been me, I probably would have. About that time I would have felt deserted and abandoned. But that is the difference; I would have chosen to live according to circumstance. Not principle. Not belief.

It is circumstantial living that forces us to question the very promises we need so desperately to cling to. Letting life and mood be affected so drastically but what is around us creates doubt. Doubt is the opposite of belief. This idea comes into focus when I think about my prayers. Often I am asking for something. Direction, guidance, healing, increased faith and so on. I expect that these prayers will be answered. Yet I change nothing about my internally function. I choose to ‘live in the moment’ ‘roll with the punches’, ‘take it as it comes’ and in turn I am affected by circumstance. Jesus says “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7) To dissect that verse a bit more, let me offer the Kristina paraphrase “But you ask in faith, without questions and doubting, for when you doubt Kristina, you become like a wave of the ocean, blowing back and forth based on circumstance, easily swayed, easily confused. For you cannot possibly think that you, being of so many different minds and moods, unstable, unbelieving, will receive anything from the Lord” He calls us to believe. To be of sound heart and mind, grounded in the Word of God.

Living in belief grounds us. Circumstantial living uproots us. Belief causes joy because we know what we believe and how we are called to live. Circumstantial living forces us to move easily, to become uncertain and shaky depending on what particular thing is happening at the moment. How can that bring joy? I don’t think that it can.

I want that belief that was shown in Daniel. I want to know, that I know, that I know God will save, ‘but even if he doesn’t’ I don’t want to waver. I want that faith. I want to transition from a life of circumstantial living into a life full and overflowing with belief. As a dear friend, and mentor, once said “Get off the roller coaster of life and learn to live on the plateau.”

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