Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Believing God, Imperfect Faith, and Impatience

It’s hard to put together a title for a blog that is over Genesis 15-25:11, because of the various topics that are important in those chapters. But, if I had to sum up all of those chapters into one title, this would be it. In Genesis 15:6 it says, “"Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness." What does this mean? I think that the key phrase in this passage is "believed the Lord". Many people believe IN the Lord, but believing Him is an entirely different thing. Because Abraham believed God, and believed in His promise, God credited Abraham righteousness. This was a gift, not something that Abraham earned. This gift was given because Abraham believed that God would do something for him that he could not do for himself. In Romans 1:17 it says, "…the righteous will live by faith". Abraham did this by believing in God's promise, and God credited him righteousness, which he did through grace. Abraham's faith was fulfilled by believing God, not simply believing IN God. This is the most difficult thing for me to do sometimes. What I find interesting is that Abraham did not live out his faith perfectly. Abraham was impatient (he didn't wait for God's promise about having children); Abraham lied about Sarai being his sister. His faith was not perfect, but God still credited him righteous, which shows believers today the power of His grace.

Now, all this being said, it is so much easier for me to give advice than to take it. Sometimes I don't even believe my own hype. I am one of those who believes IN God and for the most part believe what HE says...with one exception...when it comes to things HE says about me. Now, the rational side of me, and the side that knows better says, "who are you to put yourself in your own category? Why would God single you out individually and make it so that you can't be forgiven, or changed, or mended, or happy?" If another person told me the EXACT same thing about themselves, that they "are broken and can't be fixed" I would tell them "God is good...God is great...and He can do anything"...but telling and applying are two completely different things. The emotional, irrational side of me says, "I have all these emotional hang-ups, so many problems, have done so many things. I have been given so many chances, and yet I still don’t believe? I still think that I can't get through this??" It's a completely backwards way of thinking. I think that "why can't God make it easier for me to believe? (Emotional)" "God has made it easy...look at all you have...you just have to choose (rational)" It is a constant battle in my head. Take for instance counseling. I have been to counseling many time, and I know that if I just BELIEVED that counseling would help vs. believing that it is one big waste of time and I can't be helped that maybe it would actually help. If I stuck to what the counselor told me to do then it would help. Counseling is a bit like getting an antibiotic from a Dr. Once you start feeling better, you stop taking the antibiotic...when they doctor (and the prescription label) clearly says "Take all until finished". Maybe counseling will be a lifelong thing, I will have to "take all until finished"...I have to keep running the race, which Christ has set out for me. Problem is, sometimes I don't know which race I'm running, or I don't believe the goal is really for me. If I didn't have this battle of emotional vs. rational in my head it would be easier. I guess a better way of putting it is God vs. Satan. It goes on so much I feel it physically. So all this being said, am I unrighteous because my opinion about myself affects my faith? Is my faith too "imperfect"?

There are two women in these chapters of Genesis that really stand out and I am able to easily relate to. Both Sarah (Abraham’s wife) and Lot’s wife were a lot alike. They were both impatient and looked to the past. Lot's wife was impatient because she couldn't simply wait until they got to where they were going; she had to "break the rules". Obviously she looked at the past, hence her pillar of salt instance. Sarah was obviously impatient because she didn't wait for God's promise to be fulfilled. She lived in the past also because she remembered all the times she wasn't able to get pregnant...instead of what she had promised for the future. Sarah was an impatient woman and she didn't wait for God's promise to be fulfilled. Her impatience turned into unbelief. Because of her impatience and her own human desires, found a way for Abraham to have a child through Hagar. Sarah did not pray about this decision before she did it and the results of this human mistake were family strife, chaos, jealousy and hatred. Often times, I find myself being impatient about things in my life. Because I often act on impulse and don't pray (or think) about my decisions, I find myself in "self created" chaos.

Lot's wife is an interesting character. Although not much is said about her, there is a lot that can be learned from her. She comes into the story and she goes out with a bang. The punishment of being turned into a pillar of salt seems a bit severe, but necessary. In Luke 17:32, Christ warns "remember Lots wife…whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it" It doesn't say in the scripture why she turned around. It could have been for various reasons: curiosity, fear, not wanting to leave things she loved behind. I believe that she didn't just turn around out of curiosity. I think that she did it because she didn't want to leave her things she knew behind. God provided a way of escape for her, just like He has for me. Before her lay a life and hope, behind her death and destruction. My life has been very similar. I have not only looked back to the past, but have lived my life in the past for a long time. I know that God has promised me a life of hope, but I often choose a life of destruction because it is comfortable and what I know. We are warned several times in the New Testament about living life now and not in the past. In Philippians 3:13-14 it says, "…forgetting what is behind and straining for what is ahead…I press on" It seems like a simple idea, forget the pain, leave the destruction, move ahead to a life of hope and promise. But it is like the analogy of driving while looking in the rear view mirror, eventually if you do this long enough you are going to crash…or turn into a pillar of salt.