Seasons of Faith #1
Maybe it’s the changing of fall that is helping me to think of a change of season. School started, the leaves are changing (and blowing off in today’s high winds), I’ve had my first pumpkin pie and getting my last few runs and rides in before the inevitable snow comes. There are signs all around me of the changing season; seems like fall is a season dedicated to change.
In my walk with Christ, I find myself in seasons too. I hope that as I describe some of these seasons that you’ll be able to identify yourself and find a divine plan through it. My textbook for understanding the seasons of my faith is the book of Song of Solomon. My prayer is that you will grow in your love for the Bridegroom God and become more confident in his desire for you.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.
Just a quick note on how to understand how I’m writing. Jesus is the bridegroom king, I’m the bride, the daughters of Jerusalem are other immature (but sincere) believers.
Here, the bride is wishing for an encounter with the one she loves when suddenly he appears. She is excited and finds that he wants to spend time with only her.
I remember the day I began to follow Jesus. I was about 4 or 5 years old and I prayed with my mom that I would be a Christian, just like her. It wasn’t a particularly emotional experience for me (though I’m sure it was for my mom) but it was real.
As I grew in my faith I found that I would have crisis moments where I no longer felt God near. I also watched all sorts of sincere believers go from mountain top experience to being mired again by the distractions of the world. Life with Christ can be a real roller coaster.
A Common Problem
Maybe you can remember a season of you life that was like this. Some people call it backsliding but I think we all have this problem of not really trusting Jesus. We trust him when we can feel him but the feeling passes and we begin to doubt again. Our faith, our love is real, but it’s not mature enough to carry us through seasons of silence.
Some of us, perhaps, have even given up on ever experiencing the close walk we once had with Jesus. The pressures of life have squeezed us into thinking that a close walk with Jesus was only for us in our immature state of believing. Many believe that a mature Christian doesn’t feel the closeness of Christ – numbness is expected as you grow older. No wonder many young people leave the church – why would anyone want that kind of faith?
The good news, no, the very Good News is that Jesus doesn’t intend for this season to be permanent – he wants us to have ongoing, joy filled communion with him. He wants it more than we do! This season is actually of our making, it’s the divine plan for you to have nothing but a full and abundant life with Jesus, the Bridegroom.
God’s Simple Solution
God’s solution, to this season that we make for ourselves, is quite simple. We must confess our lack of trust and offer full surrender. Hudson Taylor says that our hesitancy to surrender everything to Jesus is like wanting to get married but not take the new family name. Our failing is in not trusting. His solution is Himself. We think we’ll get a scolding, instead we get the King.
Andy Byrd of YWAM asks, “which is the greatest and most common sin in the western church?” Which sin has the church embraced, causing untold trouble? It’s the sin of unbelief. Nothing is more devastating to a believer than unbelief. It keeps us from sharing our faith. It stops our prayers and makes us sound like mumbling mice instead of mighty giants. We actually distrust Christ. We read his words and we disbelieve them.
Again, Jesus’ solution is so simple: “Turn to me. Trust me. I love you more that you do! I want what is best for you even more than you do.” The best attitude for the believer in this season is that of desperation. As soon as the bride wishes for the kisses of his word (this is the best way to understand kisses of his mouth) the Bridegroom appears and takes her to a quiet place where they can talk.
The problem seems hopeless but the solution is quick.
This is very good news.
You can stop feeling guilty about not loving. Repent (rethink) and turn to recognize that Jesus is very near to you.
I like how the hymn by F.W. Faber goes:
If our lives were but more simple
We would take him at his word
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.
For the Love of God is broader
Than the measure of man’s mind
And the heart of the eternal
Is the most wonderfully kind.
When a believer, stops unbelief and fully trust Jesus, she gets the best surprise. It’s not the cross all over again. It’s not deep sacrifice she fears. She gets Jesus – the King. He’s the Great Lover and he’s got great plans for her mutual pleasure and benefit.
A Community of Repenters
As God’s people on the planet, we’ve not been won over by a brilliant argument or a guilt trip. It’s Jesus who won our hearts. Now, let’s lift up Jesus, brag on his love and mercy, tell his stories and scripture says that He will draw all people to himself.
We want to be people of belief, turning away from all unbelief. Unbelief is our greatest enemy and trust is our greatest friend. As a community of people, called by the name of Jesus (we’re Christians!) let’s dig in and trust that he’s a very good leader, with very good plans for our pleasure.
How about you? Can you relate to this season? Does this describe you when you were young in your faith or perhaps a transition time or midlife? How did you come through the season? Or have you?