“To turn head faith into a personal possession is a fight always, not sometimes. God brings us into circumstances in order to educate our faith, because the nature of faith is to make its object real. Until we know Jesus, God is a mere abstraction, we can not have faith in Him; but immediately we hear Jesus say — “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,” we have something that is real, and faith is boundless. Faith is the whole man rightly related to God by the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” – Chambers
Faith is a fight. That’s something I don’t often think about. I think faith in God is more like faith in a chair, that it will hold me up when I sit down. But spiritual faith is much different. It is the only means we have to be rightly related to God.
Faith is not something we can conjur up when something big comes up that needs our full attention and resources. Faith is a bit by bit proposition. God brings us into circumstances we cannot control to educate our faith. Then our mind goes to work to figure out how to get us out of this jam.
But herein lies the fight, to turn our thinking, not off, but into something that touches our heart. It is not a matter of thinking ourselves out of trouble, but by faith, believing God has the solution if we turn our lives over to Him and give him full control. We don’t turn our minds off when we do this. Neither do we avoid the issue by running away to hide from the pain. No, instead, we think ourselves into moving through it, into getting our gut to follow our mind, into having faith that the object of our faith is real.
God, in this moment, you have my full attention. I know I am self-centered and self-serving. I have faith in your power to remove lust from my heart. I unconditionally surrender myself to you, and to walk the path of sobriety you have made known to me for today. You have the power to restore me to sanity. I believe in your ability and desire to help me, help me in my unbelief.
Today is the last day of the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life program that I joined last September. Praying an hour a day has been a great, no an awesome, disruption to my life. Because of it I recognized for the first time I am an addict. I have come to realize my life as an addict is unmanageable and my only recourse is to surrender myself completely to God. As I have done that before, at least I thought I had, I have to ask myself what is different this time?
Shortly after disclosing my addiction to my family, I started going to a therapist and I joined a 12 Step program. My therapist is great and is doing me a great service, but it is in the 12 Step program where the real recovery work is done. It was after attending meetings for a few months that I felt, but didn’t understand, the magic of the program. It was a great mystery to me that I was feeling better in some way.
It took more meetings over more months for me to discover what I think is the mojo of being in a recovery group. It is the connection with other addicts. Here is where we work on our recovery. Even the 12 Steps themselves are not taken in isolation. It is all about we and us and our. There is no “I” in the program. We are embarking on this recoverery as a fellowship. The fellowship of recovery includes confession, accountability and comraderie. Connected in fellowhsip, I know I am not alone; other’s have my back.
So the difference in my surrender this time is that I am not alone. The third step of recovery is we surrender our addiciton to higher power as we understand him. Paul also understood the principle that we do the Spirit’s work together as he wrote to the Galations about it. (5:25-26, 6:2-3, 9-10) “If WE live by the Spirit . . . let us not grow conceited . . . and let us not grow weary of doing good . . . so then as we have the opportunity let us do good to everyone.” We cannot do life alone. We’re in this together whether we realize it or not.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stags of instability – and that it may take a long time.
And so I think it is with you. Your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ
One sub theme in the biblical narrative is to wait, to not be anxious, to bring silence and peace to all circumstances. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” Psalms 37:7 ESV http://bible.com/59/psa.37.7.esv
To slow down in a culture that moves at the speed of light is a difficult task. To sit in silence and to breathe deeply seems like an undeserved luxury, or in my anxious moments, it is so counterintuitive it seems to bind me in chains like I’m in a prison cell. I can’t sit still without squirming. If I’m honest, I don’t want to hear the still small voice of God. I want a god who speaks in thunder and lightening, not one who speaks in the silence. I want a god who immediately heals my deepest wounds without any suffering.
When I can hold a space for silence, God’s quiet voice speaks more personally to me. It’s a voice of steadfast love and faithfulness. It’s not about speaking in tongues nor angelic voices that are loud gongs and clashing cymbals. If I’m willing to follow, God moves slowly and quietly in my life gently nudging me one way then another and healing me bit by bit.
My work is to not be deaf to God’s voice. He is speaking as awesomely and as mysteriously as the wind trembles through an Aspen forest. But there are moments when there is no wind. The air is sweet and still. What can I do but to wait patiently and wonder? The only air that moves now is His spirit, in and out through my own lungs. The life giving air rushing into my nostrils, held only for a quarter rest and then rushing out is the breath of God in me, the hope of glory.
So I will sit in silence and wait. Only God can say what this new spirit gradually forming within me will be. I will give the Lord God the benefit of believing that his hand is leading me, and accept the anxiety of feeling in suspense and incomplete. – adapted from a prayer by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
“Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.” Psalms 37:34 ESV http://bible.com/59/psa.37.34.esv
“Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.” Psalms 37:37 ESV http://bible.com/59/psa.37.37.esv