SGLY: Light upon the path
There will be a time when you confuse people with your faith. Why? Because we live in a society in which people want quantifiable answers and faith requires action before answers.
What would be the point of faith if we knew how things were going to turn out?
Faith involves the practice of trust and a foundational belief that God is in control. Take a glance around and you will notice trust is in short supply. Look a little longer and it would not be unreasonable to doubt if God is in control. I can see why some question faith, but I am not a naive follower of Christ. I am a surrendered follower of Christ. There is a difference. A big difference.
I do not need to see the end of the road when I trust the One who paved it.
Interesting topics emerge in conversation when you meet someone who wants to dissect your beliefs. Some challenge for the sake of refuting — mostly by pointing out the weaknesses in differing views and their own strengths. Others discuss for the sake of understanding, knowing within every view is an opportunity to learn something different — and different does not always mean wrong. In examining our beliefs, we sharpen our focus and bolster our faith as we ask God to help us separate human-made truths from God’s promises.
I remember a few months ago telling a friend that I would be having surgery soon. I shared that I was scared. I also shared that I was trusting in the surgeon, nurses, and God. No matter how it turned out, I knew God would be with me.
“Are you going to pray?” he asked.
The question took me back; of course, I was going to pray. “Yes,” I responded. “I have been.”
“What are you praying for specifically?”
“That the surgery goes well and that I make a full recovery. More things than that, I’m sure, but those are the biggies.”
“And if it does not go well, is that God’s fault?”
I looked at him. I wondered if he was critical or curious. “No. It is not His fault. He already knows how it is going to turn out — my job is to be obedient no matter the outcome.”
We live in temporary bodies in a temporary world. I trust God’s answers. In the end as in the beginning, I am His and I will return to Him. God has the final say, and I am thankful His ways are greater than mine. I trust Him with my life, death, and my eternity. I trust Him daily. Maybe my prayer should have been for God to remain with me, but I already knew He would be. What I did not know at the time was how the surgery would go or how well I would recover. I needed to exercise my faith, and one expression of my faith and surrender is going to God in prayer. When I pray, I feel less of my nerves and more of His power. This empowers me regardless of the outcome.
“Hmm,” he said. “What about those who do not pray? Those who have major surgery, and everything comes out great. Why is prayer needed?”
“For me, prayer brings me closer to the heartbeat of God. When I hear His pulse, it calms my own. My mind is filled with thankfulness rather than anxiousness. God already knows my needs: I do not pray to enlighten or educate God. I pray to release myself into His care. I pray to be nearer to my Father. I pray as a manifestation of my trust, that He has me, that He knows more than me, and that He desires for me to come to Him.”
“So, are you saying God does not have people who do not pray? I thought we were all God’s children.”
“God loves us all. He does not ration His love. Yet, many do not experience the depths of His peace, passion, and power because they rely on their own strength, the opinions and affections of others, and the progression/digression of this world to dictate their course.”
He looked at me like he was puzzled. I could tell he wanted to keep talking, but he was fighting himself. “It’s like a campfire,” I continued. “The closer you get to the campfire the warmer you become. Standing far away does not discount the fact that there is a campfire. Many curse and question the fire for not providing warmth, but they stand too far away. They never experience the closeness of God to be able to trust in His love, but His love is still there. His is present whether we acknowledge it or not: our beliefs do not determine God’s existence. The truth is, it is difficult to believe in someone you don’t take the time to get to know.”
He leaned forward and put his elbows on his knees. Perhaps it was subconscious, but I saw him rub his hands together as if he were finding warmth in a room that moments earlier was cold. In my friend’s nearness to me, I also felt a new warmth.
“I’m not saying I totally understand or agree with what you’ve said, but I’m willing to keep an open mind and think about it,” he said with a smile. “I’ve been thinking about it more than you know… maybe even more than I know. Your upcoming surgery has made me want to pray more often, and I want you to know that I’ve already started praying for everything to go well. I’m not sure what my prayers will do in comparison to those who are more powerful Believers, but I’m praying just the same.”
“I don’t have all the answers either, but I can tell you that your prayer counts and God hears you. Knowing you speak to Him on my behalf gives me strength and affects me down to my soul. I feel His warmth through you. I honestly do, and it touches me greatly. Your prayers bring me closer to the campfire: they bring us both closer. Thank you. I mean it, thank you.”
This might sound strange as I am not sure I will ever fully absorb that moment, but in that conversation with my friend I felt God’s presence in the room. It was as if we joined together and invited the One who paved the road to cast light upon the path... both of our paths.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
SGLY, dear reader.
(Smile, God Loves You.
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.