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In the eyes of the world we are now adults. We have higher education, we have jobs, we own cars and sometimes houses, we have bills to pay and have completely full schedules. So where does faith fit in?
Faith of my Fathers
As children many of us were taken to church by our parents. In my family it was not an option, it was a way of life. I come from a ministry family. My grandfathers were both pastors, my uncle is a pastor, when I was born my parents were in the youth ministry until I was five and they felt the calling of God to go into mission work, and whisked me away to the mission field of Kenya, East Africa.. I have been in church since my first Sunday in the womb.
I came to know the Lord on a personal level when I was five years old in my parent’s home. It was at that time that I knew that I was not going to heaven without Jesus in my heart and I told my mom I wanted to ask Him to come and live with me forever. I prayed and received the Lord that night and several weeks later I was baptized by my grandfather in his church.
Living on the mission field, I was very involved in my parent’s ministry. I helped teach children’s classes, took offering, passed out song books, and rang the bell to let the village know that it was time to come to church! On into my teen years I continued to share in their English ministry as I helped my mom with a Saturday kids club, sang in choir, participated in Christmas musicals and in general was a part of the every day ministry of a church planting family.
When I returned to the United States, off I went to Bible college where again I did what any proper missionary child should do and quickly became involved in a local church ministry and participated in worship teams and evangelical efforts. The Lord led me from there to another fine Christian university where I was very involved in my local church.
All of this time, however, I was living underneath what I consider my parent’s umbrella of faith. My parents were never the type to force one into ministry; yet, I naturally followed whatever I felt they wanted me to do. The same held true while at Bible College, I became involved in what I was involved in not because I sought out the Lord, but because that is what I felt was expected of me.
During my study at Hardin-Simmons University, I was given the wonderful opportunity to study for a semester in Hong Kong. It was here that I stepped out from under the faith of others and God began to teach me about growing in Him for myself.
Let it Rain
January 6, 2001, LA airport I was about to board a Cathay Pacific flight bound for Hong Kong. What in the world was I thinking? Yes, I grew up overseas, I had a passport with stamps from several different countries and cultures, but when I was there so were my parents. This time I was going at it alone.
The same held true for my faith. Up until this point my faith, though personal, was constructed of a foundation of my parents’ faith, with some shaky walls built up from a walk of faith that others expected of me which was not really a true walk at all. Now I as stepped on this plane excitedly nervous about what I would find on the other side, I realized that my spiritual support would not be there this time, I was going to have to find out who Jesus was on my own.
As the plane gained momentum and I felt the pull of gravity push me back into chair, it was in that moment I left behind the security of the faith of my father, and embarked on a faith finding mission of my own. The next eight months would prove to be fun, happy, sad, long, short, easy, hard, exhausting and exhilarating! Yet they would prove to be full of adventure after adventure, a time when God showed up on a daily basis to rain down his blessings onto my life, a time where I began to find my own faith and to build upon the foundation laid for me by my father.
The Hectic Life
I know what all of you are thinking, “That was a beautiful story, but Amanda perhaps you don’t remember what kind of a rat race we live in. Perhaps you don’t understand how hard it is to find time to build my faith and grow in the Lord.” Oh, but I do. When I returned from Hong Kong, I began working three jobs, going to school full time, was involved at church, at a local interdominational bible study, and was involved in a business organization at school; I owned a car, a house, attempted to have a social life and averaged around five hours of sleep a night if I was lucky. Trust me I know about the rat race! Yet, something that God had taught me while in Hong Kong held true here in the United States. Without Him I am nothing. I am just an empty shell. Yes this empty shell can get up and go to class every day and then head of to work, pay bills, go out with friends, watch movies, even be involved in ministries working for Him, but without prioritizing my time to seek His face and allow Him to fill me with His love, I am nothing.
The Journey Continues. Here I am, several years out of college, currently facing the single life again, have been jobless for three months, have a nasty cold today, blah, blah. Yet, I can say that the faith that began on that plan five years ago has grown. Each step of the way God was stretching my faith, teaching me to lean into Him when I did not understand a thing that is going on. I could go on have a pity party and most looking at my situation would understand. However, let me put this in perspective, yesterday I talked to a single mom who is facing the fact that her two year old may have leukemia; my mom emailed me this morning that a pastor friend in Botswana just lost an infant to an unknown illness and his toddler was in the hospital; my friend’s ex father-in-law is in the hospital having suffered a heart attack after finding out that his 27 year old son was found dead in his apartment. I do not have the luxury of a pity party. I have a responsibility to hold high the faith that God has so firmly rooted in me and show the Hope that lives within me. MY GOD IS FAITHFUL! I am provided for and loved and pursuedHe is FAITHFUL!
The faith of my fathers, a faith that may not look the same on the shallow exterior of denominational walls, or on the miry ground of this generation versus that generation; but a faith that is timeless, rooted in the single fact that my Father loved me so much that he chose to have His ONLY Son crucified, so that I could spend eternity with Him. A faith that represents a love that pursues me every day of my life, even when I “forget”.
My Challenge to You
As singles we have an amazing opportunity to control our lives, more so than at any other time. Yes, we have to go to work, and for some of us we have to go to school, there are some definite controlling factors in our lives. Yet, right now we don’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves and God about the things we do daily. We choose what our schedules look like; we have the choice to prioritize our lives how we want to prioritize them. Yes, we are in a rat race running right along with the millions of others who are running, however, at the end of the day we do not have to work our free time schedules around a spouse or a significant other or children. We can choose to spend time with the Lord allowing Him to grow us and to fill our empty shells, to make us into the single being that He wants us to be.
I challenge you to pull out your day planner, or your blackberry or whatever you use to plan out your day, and to rearrange a little, set some time apart for you and the Lord on a daily basis. Take a step of faith outside the umbrella you have been standing under all these years and find the glorious satisfaction in letting God rain down on you faith anew and fresh and best of all truly yours.
This morning I spent some time in I Samuel, and it brought to mind the same thoughts that I had when I read it several years ago. The following is something that I wrote a couple of years ago when I was struggling within my singleness and trying to get all of my thoughts out. I had to answer for myself the question of “Where is my focus?” I pick here about the middle of the chapter I wrote.
First of all, if our passion is Christ then our focus should be only on Him. 24-7-365, our focus should be on the upward, focusing on God. That is not to say that we should become so enraptured with the things of the Lord that we lose sight of what is going on around us. To the converse, when our vision is totally and completely fixated on the Lord and does not waver, the rest of what is going on around us falls into place as He would have it too. When my eyes are focused on the Lord, my relationships whether they be with myself, my family, my friends, my acquaintances, my co-workers, or the opposite sex all fall into the place that God wants them to be. I do not have to fret and worry myself sick, keep myself up at night pondering about this situation or another; when my focus is on the Lord the rest of my life will be where it is supposed to be.
This brings an answer then to the question, “What has He called me to do?” He has called me to focus on Him. Period. THE END! My ministry, my calling, my everything will rise out of that simple truth.
In scripture, King David is an amazing example of this. God spoke to David through the prophet Samuel and let him know that He was going to be king of Israel. David at the time was a wee shepherd boy, last in a line of big strong just as qualified if not more qualified older brothers. Not only that, but there was already a king on the throne.
So what did David do, he took his sword and shield, gathered up a band of brothers and a few close friends and began a strategic takeover of King Saul. Um…NEGATIVE!!
David stayed in the fields tending sheep. He acknowledged that God had a direct plan for him and so he set his focus on the Lord and did not let it waver. Later he would become a servant of King Saul and best friend to the king’s son. Still he did not promenade around the king’s court declaring that he had it on good authority that he would one day sit on the throne of his current boss. Instead he humbly ministered to the king with songs that the Lord put in his heart, he went to battle for the king, and even after the king turns against him and tries in vain to kill him, he spares the life of the king two times.
As we read through all of I & II Samuel and through the Psalms we see David’s life; we see happy times and sad, we see struggles and victory, we see him fall into sin and repent. Through it all we see a man whose vision was focused on the Lord, whose passion was the Lord. Because of this, the events of David’s life fell into place as God intended, with God’s perfect timing and guidance. His ministry and callings changed several times starting as a shepherd, becoming a servant and a soldier, and finally becoming a ruler of God’s chosen people, and a direct ancestor to the King of Kings; however, his passion never changed. God not only honored him by making this small shepherd boy a king, he gave him double honor by declaring him a “Man after God’s own Heart.”
So what is your passion? Can you with a pure heart give the answer of “God.”? Or is your passion focused on what you feel you are called to out of some sort of guilt lead duty? Maybe you don’t have a passion? My challenge to you is to spend some time seeking God’s passion. Spend some time alone with Him, ASK Him, and then WAIT for His answer.