What does it mean to have faith?
Spiritual persuasion. Ideology. Spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
While I was researching for the perfect title for this post I looked into definitions and synonyms and these were the terms that kept popping up for faith. It just didn't seem to settle well with me. The one definition that seemed somewhat close was, "complete trust or confidence in someone or something." Something?
Isn't our faith supposed to be so much more than just trust and belief?
The definition of faith in the bible is found in Hebrews 11:1. "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see." But that still did not settle with well with me either.
God has been laying into me exactly what faith looks like and how it should be defined, so before I get into steps the bible lays out for us on the matter of faith, let me share with you a bit of what faith has looked like to me in my life the past 10 years.
I never really truly had to put my faith in to action until I was married. I came to know Christ as my savior when I was 13 or 14 and then came to know the God who wanted a personal relationship with me when I was a junior in High School, so those first foundational years were exciting and always seemed like a bed of roses. I was hashtag blessed.
Without getting too much into it, here is a short timeline of some key times I was tested in my faith:
2006 — I had to have complete trust in God that it was in His plan for Josh and I to get married and that we would be able to "figure it out" at the sweet young age of 20 and 21. We lived in an adorable little 900 sq foot home while working and going to school and having no real idea of where our life was going to take us.
2009 — We became pregnant with our first child! Ahh! I had cried and cried to Josh for months because I knew I was supposed to stay home with our baby boy when we had him, but it never seemed like a possibility. One day he caved and told me to let my boss know that I would not be coming back when we had our baby. Josh found his first full time job 4 days before we gave birth to Jude Oliver and it payed $25,000 a year and that was ok. Those were some of the most simple and enjoyable days of our lives because we were dependent on Christ.
2011 — We encountered our first miscarriage at 10 1/2 weeks by ultrasound, followed by a D&C a few days later. I still cry when I think about my angel babies. Miscarriage is hard and my heart and prayers truly go out to all those who miscarry and have trouble with fertility. The days following were filled with a roller coaster of emotion and so much dependence on God to get me through and help me wrestle with all those thoughts of whether or not we would be able to have more babies. The picture to the right was taken right before the ultrasound and announced on Facebook. We gave birth to our Lila Blue almost exactly one year later, within a couple days of the D&C.
2012 — We put our little house on the market in a terrible seller's economy. We were at max capacity and felt like it was time for that next step. Josh found a wonderful little neighborhood and put an offer in to build in a great part of town. I was terrified that we were not ready for that leap, but I let my husband lead. We moved in May 2013.
2013 — Miscarriage number 2. Still hard, but we were always thankful that God knew best and that he had a better plan.
2014 — Josh had been running Hook Creative as a side project (with 2 other jobs) for the last 8 years of marriage. I had encouraged him to take the leap of faith and focusing on Hook full-time for at least a year. He officially went for it one month before we had baby number 3, Gwyn Estelle. Hook is super successful, all praise to God. He even hired employees in 2015, which takes jumping out in faith to another level. Payroll and being in charge of making sure a person's family is going to be taken care of is scary, but SO thankful that we are reminded again who the ultimate provider is.
Our re-occuring theme seems to be this: when we feel God calling us to do something or to believe in something that doesn't seem realistic. We constantly step out of our comfort zone and into the unknown in FAITH.
This year I know we have more leaps of faith on the horizon. It is always terrifying wondering if you are making the right decision, but if you put your faith into action and stay in direct communication with Christ, YOU do not have to be afraid because HE is always faithful when you step out in faith!
Motherhood and homeschooling is by far and away my hardest faith battles to date. Sometimes there are days that I want to have faith, and may even think I have faith, but then the ugly "reality" of the situation might seem overwhelming. I have struggled with being a realist of faith. I thought that if the situation made sense, I could have faith. Faith is the complete opposite!
I am learning that it is sometimes harder to put my faith in to action in the everyday struggles and demands of life. I have a hard time having faith that I am disciplining my children when and how they should be disciplined. I have a hard time having faith that I am teaching them everything they need to succeed in life, and school. I have a hard time not second guessing myself with curriculum, not to mention the 2 year long faith battle on whether or not I would ever be able to teach my son to read! Bah. We have faith battles every singe day.
This is why I have to remind myself that my faith is in God to see me through because I could not homeschool or make it through motherhood without faith.
It is necessary to have faith in the big circumstances in life. The scary health situation, the job loss, the infirtility, the financial struggle, depression, those are all hard places to be that require a BIG God to pour out his love, grace and faithfulness. If you are struggling with feeling distant and withdrawn from God to a point of unbelief or lack of faith, tell God all about it. I will admit I have had conversations with God about how I believe but I need help with my unbelief and lately how I have faith, but I need help with my faith. There is a big difference in belief and faith.
What does it truly mean to have faith?
1. Recognize your lack of faith.
Romans 14:23 says, "... everything that does not come from faith is sin." Ouch. This is where you do a personal inventory of your thoughts. If you truly believe in something could you step out in faith and have complete trust that God will work in the situation, or is it easier to say that you have faith that God will work it out? Take your thoughts captive because God has no problem with calling your bluff.
James 1:5-8 goes on to say, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything form the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do."
Time and time again Jesus would perform miraculous healings, and forgive people on the spot because of their great FAITH! These people were all in and free of doubt. Doubt is a key tool in Satan's master plan to confuse your heart and your thoughts. He wants to steal your confidence and make you question your circumstance. Be on guard.
2. Recognize the source of your faith.
Romans 10:17 tells us, "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word." The word is so powerful! You can not survive in your relationship with Christ without digging into the word or continually listening to the word and letting it penetrate your heart.
3. Use the tools you are given.
1 Corinthians 2:4 says, "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the spirits power so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power." Every story and word in the Bible is God-breathed and used for equipping His people. In John 16, Jesus is talking to his disciples and tells them that unless he goes away, his Advocate can not come. His spirit. Can you imagine being a disciple and trying to have faith that everything will be ok, even when Jesus was physically gone?! Thank the Lord we do not have to rest on human wisdom. If I could only rely on myself, I would not only be a mess, I would be a disaster.
4. Believe and therefore speak.
"I believed; therefore I have spoken. Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak." -2 Corinthians 4:13
Do not underestimate the power of words. Especially when the Holy spirit is moving through you in Faith, God will be with you and will give you the words to speak to help you through your current situation. He shows up to Moses in Exodus and tells him that he will give him the words to accomplish his will and you can believe that when you need the right words, He will give them to you as well. Claim it.
5. Faith in action.
James 2:17 says, "... faith by itself, if not accompanied by action is dead." and it is repeated again in verse 26 and phrased slightly different, "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead."
You can say you love your husband and kids all day long, but until you show them by meeting their love languages, and hugging them and playing with them, just telling them will not pull much weight. I would venture to say that faith without action is simply belief.
It can be easy to believe that God can do something, but faith is putting an action to the belief in full confidence that God will do something.
Dig into the word and seek the Holy spirit so you can truly live a life of complete faith in God. (honestly sometimes just speaking something makes it a lot more real and believable right? I can say, no that donut, ice cream and brownie are not good choices for me, but until I open my mouth and say, "Nope. You don't want to deal with those consequences later Bre." then it becomes real and I believe it!
I dug into the word to digest every scripture on faith and the bible took me on a journey of so many characters who had to have extreme faith in God to overcome the reality of their situation. There is such a long list I am afraid if I got started I would get too excited and it would be way too long of a post, but I encourage you to look to those heroes who exhibited such faith to conquer and overcome for Christ.
Here is the thing, God is the same yesterday today and tomorrow so the faith he asked of his followers then, is the same faith He asks of us today.
I understand it is really easy to get caught up in the "reality" of the situation and not have the energy to muster this "faith" even in the small things like looking at the current state of your house and wondering how you can magically get everything done. For me, there are just never enough hours in the day. Stay in the word. Pray without ceasing. Love when it is not easy.
When I let my day get the best of me or If I am going through a difficult circumstance, I speak words of life, I flick out those negative thoughts that are nothing short of doubt in faith (literally, envision yourself flicking little negative planes flying around in your head. It is silly, but it is the visual a sweet and dear friend gave me so many years ago.) and I try my best to remember who I am grounded in and just how powerful He is.
I was recently listening to a teaching from Lisa Bevere and Havilah Cunnington when Lisa said, "Your children are either going to hear God's fears, or your promises." In the same respect, I could argue that your kids are either going to hear your beliefs, or they are going to see you claim victory through faith.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us." - Ephesians 3:20
I would love to be encouraged by your leaps of faith, please share them with me in the comments below! What is your favorite story of faith in the bible? I know I am getting lengthy, so stay tuned to my IG account and I will share my favorite story of faith this week!