"Living in Transition - The Art of Faith and Life"
by Michael Miles
from: The Hitchhiker's Guide (adapted for LDM)
Mile 018 - November 2, 1999
"Kept awake by the thoughts of all the changes that I'm experiencing, how many things are demanding my attention (and maybe the big bowl of chocolate ice cream that I had an hour before I tried to go to bed) I just could not bring myself to fall asleep. My life is in absolute transition. I'm in a place where living with faith and learning how to walk through the trials that come my way has become an absolute art form.
If you've ever had to move, you know the pains and agonies of transition. You've got to change your address, change phone companies and/or phone numbers, find a new Internet Service Provider. You've also got new neighborhoods to try and find your way around in, new friends to make, Church hunting, and somehow find time to box everything up and move it all into your new home... and then the biggy... trying to find time to unpack it all and get settled in.
I've had to move recently, and when I look back, I think I've moved more than just my belongings, my business and my ministry, I feel that I've moved my life. And through this move, somehow things in my spiritual life have become boxed up and shipped to my new address in Saint Paul, Minnesota. And now I'm going through the boxes of my life, sorting through things, and trying to unpack what I've carried through all my life—somehow attempting to make sense of the past eleven years of my life with Jesus.
Change has a way of unsettling things, testing what we've become comfortable with, and finding what is true, solid and sure. In fact, things have been so shaken up, I've become fearful because I cannot see things clearly in my life and with such certainty as I did even six months or more ago.
After getting up for a glass of orange juice (hoping that maybe I was just thirsty and THEN I might be able to get back to sleep—didn't work) I read through My Utmost for His Highest in the October 31st entry, "The Trial of Faith." All this experience was missing was heavenly music, a bright light, and angels singing "Hallelujah, we've got your attention!" Makes me wonder, sometimes, if God celebrates when He's able to get my attention long enough to hear Him. I wouldn't doubt it.
There was a line in that entry that captured my attention—even long enough to camp out at it for a few minutes to contemplate it.
"God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of emotional enjoyment of His blessings. The beginning of your life of faith was very narrow and intense, centered around a small amount of experience that had as much emotion as faith in it, and it was full of light and sweetness. Then God withdrew His conscious blessings to teach you to "walk by faith". 1 Whoah. Ever read a phrase or paragraph that goes down like a horse pill and leaves a really strong aftertaste in your mouth? When I first read that, I had to stop and think about it. It was so richly packed with truths, that it was quite difficult to swallow it all in one bite.
Here Oswald Chambers is suggesting that, sure you had an incredible and emotional conversion experience and that you thought you could live forever on the mountain with God. And maybe even the first few years of your zealous walk with God were filled with unending adventures and you never felt closer to God than you did those years. And now, years later, you're dry. Your walk with God is hardly an adventure, but a series of trial after trial after trial, wondering, "God are you even there?"
If I were to be blatantly honest with you, I would have to say that I feel closer to God when I'm hearing "clearly" and am feeling on top of the world and things seem to click. And on the flip side of that coin, I feel distant when God's voice is the last thing I can hear, things in every which way are going wrong, and life seems to go down the tubes before my very eyes. But is this faith?
In the second letter that Paul wrote to the Church of Corinth, he writes "Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5: 6-7).
Paul's saying that if we trust in what we can see, we're essentially relying on false confidence, in the temporal things that will pass away. To expound on Paul's statement, to live by faith means we need to see beyond our circumstances, beyond what life is presenting us at the moment. Beyond what's happening at work, school or home, and come to a place where we just know that we know that we know, that something is true.
That means that somehow, no matter what God even may throw my way—regardless of how hard it may be—I will trust God to be true to His words and His promises. Even Job said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (Job 13:15).
What?! If God slays me, I'm going to trust Him?
That requires guts. It requires seeing beyond the temporary things that I am experiencing and seeing God as faithful BEYOND those circumstances.
Oswald continues in his entry:
"And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God's character must be proven as trustworthy in our own minds. Faith being worked out intro reality must experience times of unbroken isolation." 1 And that's hard. It's those seasons where God "hides His face" and you can't plainly hear Him. You can't see a single sign of His presence, His Words aren't as clear as they used to be, and all earthly signs spell out desertion. But it is there, in those times when we can't see the hand of God that our faith—that is, our ability to trust that He is who He says He is—is tested, tried, and made into reality.
It's not easy at all. Heck, I'm in the middle of it myself. Sometimes I even wonder if God's gonna let me in because of how I'm handling these trials that He gives me. I can't say that I'm the most obedient child of His. (Sometimes I feel more like a problem child than an unconditionally loved one.)
But one important thing to remember, though, there are some things that we can tend to call the trials of faith, when they are really just the trials associated with being "alive". In life, we're going to experience some not-so-easy things just because we are walking on this earth. It's called the "human condition." But regardless if it is a trial of faith or a trial of life, the appropriate response is to endure it and to do your best to trust.
I've heard a number of people say that we were created to worship God. Very true. It couldn't have been said better. But before we can truly come to a place where we can worship Him fully and have a rich, full relationship with Him, we must be able to trust Him more and more. This trust comes through the testing of our faith—being left alone for awhile, to trust that He's right there just the same.
I'm not sure where you're at, but in a way, it helps to even hear these words myself. Maybe it'll help you, too. Yeah, it's not all that pleasant going through life and even going at it alone sometimes (without Jesus being right there to make it "all better"), but it's just for a season. Walk through it, try your best to trust in the promises of God, and do your best to be obedient to His commands.
Michael Miles, 2/21/2007