Sometimes I miss what Sarah Bessey calls the “happy clappy” days of my faith. I was sixteen when I decided that being a follower of Jesus was going to be something that defined me for the rest of my life, and in some ways the decision is still that simple: “Yes.”
But there was an innocence to my faith in God in those days – a naive belief that if I wanted something to change, all I had to do was pray. Maybe for a long time, but still, that was it: just pray. I believed in the miraculous with an innocent fierceness. I believed that God could – and would – do the impossible when we asked. I believed that if I just had enough faith, I would never have to worry about health or finances or what the future held – and I believed it blindly.
I don’t believe it blindly anymore.
I still believe that prayer matters – that God wants to hear what we think, what we want, how we feel – and that He wants to speak into that. I believe that prayer changes things – that sometimes God does move on our behalf, that the miraculous can and does happen because we ask Him for it. But I also know that sometimes the answers we get are “no,” or “wait.”
And that sometimes the answer is silence.
Silence doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love us or that He doesn’t want what’s best for us. It doesn’t mean that He won’t ever answer. Imo, it usually means there is something to learn.
Which is not what we want when we wanted a “yes.”
I still believe that God can – and sometimes will – reverse an illness, provide unexpectedly for insurmountable bills, send help in the ways we least expect (and most need), and heal our souls where they’ve been most damaged. He can move entire mountains if He needs to – for realz.
I believe it because there have been times I’ve seen Him do it. But there have also been times when I haven’t.
The world we live in is broken and flawed, and so are we. Life isn’t perfect. Things don’t always turn out the way we hoped they would. There can be a lot of heartache and loss in life, and sometimes having all the faith in the world is not enough to stop bad things from happening or to fix it when they do.
But I’m not sure faith was ever meant to be “enough.” Maybe because it would make miracles dependent on us, and not on God. I believe faith matters – I really do. I believe that God hears and answers prayer, and that it’s one of the ways He allows us to participate with Him in accomplishing so many things. But I’m not sure that the amount or the strength of our faith is what sways God. I think it sways us. I think faith puts us more in tune with Him, and makes us more likely to be open to seeing the ways in which He is at work (especially when it’s not what we expected).
It’s like that scene in Firefly when River rips all the pages out of Shepherd Book’s bible in an attempt to “fix” all the inconsistencies, and he tells her, “You don’t fix faith, River – faith fixes you.” It does.
I have prayed a lot over the course of my lifetime. Sometimes I’ve seen God move and sometimes I haven’t. I have learned on more than one occasion to say with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” And even in the moments when there seems to be nothing but silence, I believe that God is still at work. I believe that with every fiber of my being. Even on the days when I can’t really see it.
And for me, it’s been hard-won. My faith has been tested and tried in so many ways – and it’s held fast. It’s stronger now. I’m not sure I’d trade that for “happy clappy,” honestly. Yes, things seemed simpler. But this – this is deeper.
It’s been just over a year since I stopped going to church for awhile. I wouldn’t have traded this year for anything either. It was a little surprising to find that some have equated my decision to take a road less traveled as abandoning my faith, but I assure you, nothing could have been further from the truth. This year has been one of tremendous growth, healing, and clarity. God has been at work in so many ways – and He’s not done yet – but I just have to say: it’s amazing what a “desert season” can do for your soul.
It’s been so good. And there’s so much more to come.
Image Credit: © Depositphotos.com / kevron2002
Simple Felicity is, at its heart, a blog based on the unshakeable belief that happiness really isn't all that complicated. Sometimes finding it can be - but happiness itself is pretty simple, and it's often found in the simplest of things: good food, good books, and good company. So those are the things I write about, along with a few other things that really matter to me, including faith and feminism.
A bit about me: My name is Happy. I have an amazing talent for misplacing my keys, a deep appreciation for whomever looked at the coffee bean and thought, "Hey, I wonder what would happen if I roasted this?", and road trips to Michigan are pretty much my favorite.
Contact me anytime at simplefelicity7 (at) gmail (dot) com! I'd love to hear from you.
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