What does it mean to you to have “comfortable faith”? All my life I have heard stories about how hard it is to be a believer. How much we must sacrifice to serve our G-d. We must “get out of our comfort zones” and be willing to “sacrifice the flesh”.
And work harder, do more, live better…
Until you die.
And the joy of the Lord will be your strength. But it will be some sort of esoteric, existential experience of Joy and nothing tangible. It will just “be there”. But you wouldn’t want to admit to feeling it since feelings are immaterial and inconsequential to the Vulcan faith our passion for stoicism has pressured us into believing is vital.
But what is real? What does it all mean?
Comfortable faith should be something you can live in, work in. Not something that impedes movement. It’s the work gloves that fit “just right” and the boots you can wear all day. Not a strait jacket or a wooden pew that keeps you hemmed in and frozen.
A year ago I sat on my living room floor, a mangled mess of shattered hopes, loss and a burning desire for answers. I told my husband to pray for me because I couldn’t see past the next few minutes and it seemed G-d still listened to him. Tonight I sat in my friend’s living room and, with no fanfare, was thrilled to share the tiniest bits of hope that I have found to be true.
Yes. It’s true. Without a program or a bulletin or a single organizational meeting G-d put two families together and asked the older siblings to love on, listen to and encourage the younger. While no one else was watching. Simply because Family needs each other and that was a concept we could understand.
So we have become the church to each other. In the sweetest, most tender display of grace I’ve ever experienced.
See, a year ago all I could see was a garbage heap of hope and expectations, dreams and purpose. I had a plan, folks!!! I was in Ministry… Yeah… Whatever.
And then we met this amazing couple who had just found a Savior. And they were a mess. Running on an adrenaline high of emotion and pain. Trying so desperately to make sense of this Hope they had been given. They asked my husband and I if we would come beside them and help them figure out what it meant to follow this Jesus. They knew a little, felt a lot, cared more than seemed possible.
Before you know it we were meeting once a week for dinner and just to fellowship. No agenda. Then we were talking a few times a week, the husbands were meeting for coffee once a week and talking about the Word. I wondered if I should be more “systematic” about coming along side my new friend but, honestly? I couldn’t find the drive to force her into my study-til-you-drop mentality. So we talked horses and country girl life and parenting. I taught her how to make bread and cleaned up her kitchen every time we came over. Through it all I shared how I had been encouraged by the Lord to live differently than my fears would have directed me. I lived my frustrations and hopes, my prayers and G-d’s answers in front of her as honestly as I could. I encouraged her to see the value of her husband and the blessing of her children. In turn she spoke to me. Encouraged me. I was and am encouraged by her sincerity and by the simplicity of a faith that reminds me of the fundamentals to my own faith that have somehow been shelved along the way.
But what is most remarkable about this incredible couple… These baby believers… Is this. They TRIED. No matter if they fell 14 times a day they still got up, looked up and tried again. The things they have faced in the last year would have far more “seasoned” believers running for the hills, doubting their faith and signing divorce papers. Believe me. I’ve seen one or two of these things destroy families. And our friends, with their fledgling faith, have responded with grace, compassion, strength and determination that is far beyond what anyone would consider commensurate with their relative spiritual age.
G-d is amazing. I am intensely humbled that we get to be a part of this process with them.
I suppose, in retrospect over the last year, that we have “discipled” them. I guess. But just as we’ve had the privilege of encouraging them we’ve had the blessing of being needed. Being used. I don’t know if that makes any sense to you on the other side of the screen. They saw we had something to offer. Us. In our broken, fragile, weakened condition…G-d was made evident in our lives and real in theirs.
My dear friend, tonight, shared how she had felt, from all the Christians she’d ever known, that she wasn’t good enough, didn’t know enough, didn’t have enough… But with us? Being a believer wasn’t something to be ashamed of, or hidden or thrown down someone’s throat. Being a believer was simply her state of being. A place to be comfortable. At rest.
She couldn’t believe that we listened to what she had to say, valued her perspective… She said more. I can’t remember it all. I do remember that the whole time she was talking I couldn’t help but be amazed that everyone couldn’t see this incredible woman in front of me. The thought occurred to me that those who didn’t were missing out on so much.
I haven’t impacted thousands this past year. I haven’t led hundreds in worship. I haven’t spoken eloquently or written passionately. I haven’t achieved many goals or checked off many to do lists. But one year after I fell apart, one year after I had dinner with a broken, lost couple looking for hope they sat together, holding hands in their living room and thanked G-d for the encouragement they’d received from our little family while we walked beside them through the hardest year of their life.
I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.
One year ago I prayed for understanding and healing. And G-d answered by giving us someone to love and nurture. Someone to share His tender mercies as we received them new every morning.
His ways are not ours. I still don’t understand. I still feel broken. But apparently what I prayed for was not what I needed to be useful in His economy. Out of my brokenness has come a depth of compassion I have never experienced before. Out of my confusion has come an iron-clad confidence that He will be faithful even though people are incomprehensible.
Easy faith? Cheap grace? No. But comfortable faith? The default response to difficult situations? Absolutely.
And it is, most definitely, enough.