Monday, April 18, 2011
I've been thinking a lot about faith lately.
I friend told me a story about someone she knew who is really believing for a miracle of healing. Amidst her declarations of healing, her health has continued to deteriorate to the point of almost certain death. In this situation this person will not even hear of the possibility that this might be the time God brings her to heaven. She continues to declare she is healed.
I believe in healing. I believe in standing for a miracle in faith. But I wonder, is there a point where my refusal to consider any other possibility causes the situation to turn into one where I'm hanging onto my agenda rather than to God?
I want to be strong in my faith. I don't want to be one of those people who is afraid to even believe for impossible things because he doesn't want to risk disappointment. I want to ask, I want to believe God for big things. But how am I going to behave if those things don't happen the way I prayed they would?
I love the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow down and worship an image of gold. These men were God's cream of the crop prophetic voices in a wicked Chaldean culture. Their response to Nebuchadnezzar before they were thrown into the fire stands out to me.
"O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT, we want you to know O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18.)
These three guys had seen their share of miracles. They knew God could get them out of the furnace. But they also knew that it was God who got to ultimately decide that, and no matter what He chose, they were going to serve Him.
So I wonder if those words of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego might be what a true prayer of faith sounds like. "God I want you to heal me, I know you can. I'm believing for that. But even if you don't I'm going to worship you."
When I was in my late twenties I had an acute attack of pancreatitis. I wound up in the hospital for almost 10 weeks and had two surgeries and lots of tubes sticking out of me. They never found the cause, they simply treated the illness at hand.
During that time, I prayed, I believed, I had friends try to cast demons out of me, I worshipped, and finally at my wits end I surrendered. I came across a verse in Psalms 73:25-26,28--"Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart they may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good. I have made the Lord my refuge that I might tell of all his works."
In my case, once I surrendered I began to get better. But I don't think that's a given.
Surrendering isn't always a pretty process. There's some inner wrestling involved when you surrender your agenda to a sovereign God. But oddly enough, I think surrender brings freedom. I think surrender is extreme faith. It's letting go of whatever I'm holding onto and trusting God to catch me.