I will be preaching in an American church for the first time in a quite a while on November 13 (which is also Orphan Sunday) and I wanted to share some thoughts that I have been having about this sermon. I am not sure if this is the direction I will go because I have not really sat down to start praying through where GOD is leading, but these thoughts came up based on the topic I will be using. First of all, I will be preaching at Baldwin United Methodist Church in Baldwin, FL which is about 45 minutes from us. A good friend of mine, Kathi Crothers, put us in touch with the pastor of the church there and they were nice enough to have me come and preach.
While I am there, I will be preaching about “faith.” I know this is a broad subject, but based on my current profession I will be using my experience in Haiti as the backdrop of the sermon. I will also be introducing the congregation to the ministry of All Things New while I preach. I was actually asked a question about the faith that it took to move to Haiti while I was in LaGrange a a couple of weeks ago and that is where this train of thought kind of all started. Let me start with an example and then tell you why I am using this example.
Have you ever thought about how we judge other people compared to how we judge ourselves? What I mean is that when someone is short with us, ignores us, or seems rude to us we automatically get upset and think negative things about him/her. However, when we act that same way towards someone else, there are a host of excuses and reasons that we use (all of which may or may not be valid) to excuse our poor behavior. Maybe we are stressed (and most of us feel stressed a lot), maybe we are busy (I truly believe that 90% of Americans feel like they are the busiest people in America), or maybe we just learned some terrible news and we use those circumstances to excuse the way we speak or act towards others. Again, I am not saying that we are always wrong to do that (even though in most instances we are definitely wrong) I am just saying that it is what most of us do. We judge ourselves based on a broad picture of how we are feeling, what we are going through, and the events that have shaped our lives to that point while we judge others based solely on their immediate actions toward us. This can be for the positive or for the negative, and when we do this we are oftentimes off-base in our conclusions.
So let me pull this back around to the topic of faith. I am afraid that many people assume my faith is far bigger than what it actually is based on only 1 thing that they know about me…I moved to Haiti. At the same time, many people assume other people’s faith is not as big based on the fact that they are not pastors, missionaries, or Sunday School teachers. I want to tell you, at least in my experience and from my perspective, that you cannot base the size of someone’s faith (or your own faith for that matter) on knowing just 1 thing about them. On top of that, I believe that the issue, oftentimes, is not found in the “size” of our faith at all but rather the person or thing that receives it. That means, when talking about faith, we really have to ask ourselves who or what has our faith before we can even begin to ask how big our faith actually is. With all of that said, let me get to what the title of this post points us to…The most difficult aspect of faith. Now, this is not true all of the time, but from my experience, it seems like one of the most difficult aspects of faith is for us to put ourselves in a position where faith is even an option! I guess the bottom line is this:
Too many of us have no idea how big or small our faith is because we never put ourselves in a position to find out!
Think about the last time you put yourself in a position where faith was an option. I don’t mean the last time you were in Bible Study and you had to think really hard for an answer. I mean the last time that you really had to make a difficult decision in your life to follow where GOD was leading you. It could be a financial step, an action step, or a life-altering step that forces you to uproot everything you knew. Too often the only time our faith is challenged is when a terrible life event occurs. When we lose someone we are close to, when we or someone we love are diagnosed with a life-altering disease, or a catastrophe hits and we have to decide if we truly believe GOD is still in control. The problem with these scenarios is that our faith is challenged by something or someone else when we are clearly challenged to live our entire lives based on our faith in GOD every day.
So, when people assume I have this great faith because of how we are living our lives, the assumption is actually off. The truth is that faith is a struggle for me. I like to have things planned out, I like to be able to see things clearly, and I like for things to make sense but sometimes faith cannot be planned and sometimes faith does not make sense. When I think of faith, I do not think of the big events that change our lives either for the better or worse, I think about the fact that we have to be willing to put ourselves in those positions to start with. We have to do things in our lives that bring us to places and times where our faith comes into play.
Now, think about your normal day…What does it look like? Do you have every second of your day planned (this is not a bad thing) from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep? Do you wake up every single day knowing that you will go to work, come home and be with your family, go to sleep, and then repeat that day over and over again for the foreseeable future? I am really not saying that this is bad, this used to be my life. The problem with it is that we never give faith a chance to be a part of our lives and routine. The problem is not that our faith is too small, the problem is that we have no idea what our faith looks like because we never do anything that requires faith.
This is something that I have been thinking about because it is something that I need to hear. Just because we moved to Haiti, completed an adoption, moved our daughter to Haiti, are looking to start a new ministry, etc. does not mean that we are living by faith. It means that we were living by faith at one point, but it also means that every single day we have to put ourselves in a position where faith is an option! We cannot live in the past or the future but we need to learn how to live every single day looking for ways that our faith in GOD can play a role in our life. Let’s close with the challenge:
What are we doing in our lives right now that requires faith?