Lately God keeps talking to me about faith– not how to live it out in words and actions, but how to live it on the inside, because learning to step out and do the right thing is good, but learning to “Be still and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10) is important too. The word the Singer used for being still is rapha, meaning to surrender… allow yourself to let go. His song has more to do with remembering Who is in control than with ceasing of noise and energy– the surrendering is linked to the knowing.
Surrender is kind of a scary concept, and I’m all for it, but I think I’d prefer it to stay within reasonable limits. It’s like my faith ping-pongs somewhere between the innocent trust of a child who says “I don’t think Jesus wants it to rain on us” and the world-toughened rationalism of an adult who is a little hesitant to trust God for anything too big for fear He might not come through for us when we pray, and how do we explain that, or reconcile that with our faith? Looking around, I think I am not the only one, either. Most of us have this fragile balancing act going on between fear and faith, and often it is only the prevailing circumstances that make the difference.
Sometimes God does the big miracles and we laugh amazed with outstretched arms like children, and sometimes it rains and we mop up the chaos and try to hang onto faith in spite of the mess…so that after awhile some of us actually become pretty fair spiritual jugglers, resigned to handling faith and disappointment-with-God as natural parts of the same show. And even though we admire the childlike faith that can expect great things and live unafraid, we have the uneasy feeling that it is only for a special few– and maybe as long as the fear is kept busy and distracted with faith flying around, it will be okay, because we are after all, only human.
But Amy Carmichael’s words keep pulling at me: “…we trust all that the love of God does; all He gives, and all He does not give; all He says, and all He does not say.” Innocent faith of a child receiving whatever comes from the Father’s hands, whether good or bad– and there’s the catch, because if it flows out of His love and He says He is working all things out for my growth and good, then how do I even know where to hang those labels of good and bad? In the words of that brave missionary to India, “The more we understand His love, the more we trust.” Maybe our crisis is not one of faith so much as one of understanding, of accepting love.
I’m starting to accept the notion that I really don’t understand what is best in any situation. Spending the night in a big city airport because we missed our connecting flight? Sleeping in the food court with the homeless people taking shelter from the same storm that messed up our flight schedule? Missing the seminar that we had come for and already paid for? Bad, really bad. Except that the night passed and we were calm; we did sleep a bit, propped up on our luggage, discovered a resilience we did not know we had. And a new heart-awareness of the people who sleep in airports because they want to, who are sturdy survivors and well-prepared for storms because they expect difficulty. Not to mention a reminder that needs are not the same thing as comfort and preference. Maybe good after all?
So then the next time it rains and chaos ensues, with over-turned schedules and masses of people awaiting split-second decisions that should be nothing but bad and stressful, there is this supernatural Stillness in the center of the whirlwind, and I realize that I don’t even know if this is going to be good or bad, I just know His heart. He loves us and He is good, and whatever happens He will help us with it. Like a child who trusts the One who loves him. Oddly finding nothing to juggle any more because He is holding it all. Allowing ourselves to let go, become weak, so that we can recognize the Master of the Universe in His rightful place on the throne.
And the next day the four-year-old says, “Maybe it will rain today and maybe it won’t. Who knows?” Maybe childlike faith expects great things and lives unafraid only because it knows storms will come, and we will stand strong and survive because Someone bigger than the storm loves us. Maybe the rational adult can just choose to lay down his juggling act, admit that it is only a mask for fear and the desire to control, “be still and know [He] is God.”
Not sure yet what surrender fully means, how to live out faith on the inside and on the outside in all circumstances, but I think it may be the lesson we are all learning, in every one of our days from start to finish. Help me Lord, on this day, to sing with the children in their simple trust: “What are you worried about now– Trying to figure it out now? God knows right where you are now– You know it’s all in His hands now. Give all your worries and your cares to God, For He cares about you…”
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
“…I need You to open my eyes,
To see that You’re shaping my life.
All I am, I surrender.
Give me faith to trust what You say:
That You’re good, and Your love is great.”
(Give Me Faith, Elevation Worship)