Today I am wondering about faith. What does it mean to have faith? The word is found everywhere, on our walls, shirts, jewelry and I hear it tossed around nearly every week in church and by well-meaning, if not ignorant folks, when they say, “just have faith”. I find it terribly annoying. What is that supposed to mean anyway?! What do people who say it think they are saying? What does it mean? Is it just a socially acceptable response that has no power or worth behind it?
I am guilty of the above; telling people to have faith, but I’ve always had a nagging in my mind that I had no idea what I was saying. I nod in church in approval on messages of faith, but do I really know or care what it means? It’s hitting me how carelessly I use words without proper knowledge or understanding. Words have power. They are creative. They have the power of life and death. Teach me to use words productively. To produce life and godliness.
Faith. What is it? Your Word speaks of it often but I’ve never slowed down enough to meditate on what it means. It is the foundations of the Gospel and Your Word says it is impossible to please You without it. I want to understand it better and learn what it means to live in faith. I confess I worry far too much about how to raise my teenage son, what I’m supposed to do since I just closed my business, and what my future looks like because it seems very uncertain from this point of view. I don’t want to worry about things I can not control but I don’t want to bury my head in the sand either and pretend like everything is perfect. I know that faith is not the absence of problems, but it’s the proper mindset in the midst of “life”. Faith brings peace in the midst of the messy-ness of life and I want to know more of what that practically looks like.
Today I was studying and came across a story of faith in Luke. I’ve heard them so many times but today a new understanding entered my mind. I’ve been meditating specifically on the Words of Christ so today I read the discussion between Jesus and a Jewish religious leader (Luke 7:36-50). They were discussing the woman who was making a scene at that moment by sobbing at the feet of Jesus. I can see her. What courage it must have taken to go into the house of a prominent religious leader. It would be like me crawling into the house, uninvited, of a big-name pastor, not knowing if I would be kicked out, arrested, or ridiculed. Everyone would notice. Everyone would talk. She was a well-known prostitute. She knew they were looking down on her and thought of her as no more worthy of attention than the dust on the ground. Maybe that was why she was crawling on the ground, on her hands and knees. So didn’t see any value in herself; however she had the courage to crawl in there. What drove her to set aside the complete humiliation she was about to endure in order to just kiss the feet of Jesus? It must have been utter desperations. What was she thinking? What did she understand about You? What did she think this would accomplish? The Bible doesn’t say. She didn’t utter a word to Jesus. To anyone. Jesus sat there and let her make a huge scene in this home. Crying, wiping his feet, pouring perfume on him. Had he healed someone she knew? Either way something happened where she received a revelation of who He was and she was overcome with absolute love and gratitude. His kindness in some way drew her to repentance. I have a feeling she entered a prostitute but walked away a whole person. The trajectory of her life completely changed. Jesus didn’t condemn her and list her sins and tell her that she has to live by doing X, Y, & Z. He simply said, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Jesus didn’t tell her what to do or what not to do. Her encounter with Him changed her life because deep inside of her she understood who He was and what He had come to do. Her heart was different. A heart that embraces who Jesus is and is willing to be exposed to the very core without concern of the opinions of men naturally acts in faith.
Father, I see her heart. I look at myself and wonder if I could do the same. I’d like to think I would but I see my heart is still concerned about the opinions of others. Could I humiliate myself and lay open my sins the way she did and not care what others are saying? It would be hard. She understood what it means to be a Living Sacrifice. Oh, teach me to have that kind of faith! Faith that brings me to a point where all I can see is Jesus; I don’t put myself or others first. I become hard in my gaze towards the one who died for me.
From this story I take away that faith is setting aside myself. It’s having a belief in You that is so compelling I can’t help but fall at your feet no matter what it costs me because what You have to offer is far, far better than anything I could ever do for myself. Faith brings peace (consequently if I do not have peace, I am not resting in faith).
How do I practically operate in faith regarding my work? My family? I suppose instead of trying to figure out what to do, when I start to have concerning thoughts I need to think of the woman at the feet of Jesus. Ultimately she was expressing gratitude. So I need to stop my worrying thoughts and just shower You with gratitude. When I focus on being thankful my mind rests because I am not controlled by my situations but instead by your Word.
So today I thank you for Your beautiful Word. It is so full of life! I thank you that You have a plan for me even though I don’t know yet what direction I am supposed to take, every day You are leading me one step at a time. You led me to close my business and I see that it was the right thing to do even though it was so hard. I thank you now that what you have planned for me will be so amazing! Thank you for teaching me about this woman at your feet, that it wasn’t about what she had or was doing but about her heart. It was her heart that you were pleased with. She was a Living Sacrifice. Show me where I am holding back and am more concerned with what others think of me than in obeying you. Thank you for showing me this weekend that I was more concerned about my comfort and my time than I was in helping someone else. I want to be wholly focused on You.