For some time now I’ve been studying a very good book called “Live A Praying Life” by Jennifer Kennedy Dean. This week the study is focusing on faith and exactly where it comes from and how you get it. The author made a statement that is really germinating in my heart right now, it is:
“Faith can only come through a direct, firsthand encounter with Jesus. Belief can come through secondhand information, but belief is not faith.”
I’ve been sitting here dwelling on this statement and applying it to my life to see if it rings true, and it does for me. I had what I would label very strong beliefs for many, many years. I believed God loved me and that it was possible to have a close intimate relationship with him, but it hasn’t been until the past few years that I would say I have faith in that fact. There was a time when my belief system was very confused and I was struggling in my relationship with the Lord. My security was based on a belief system that revolved around what I did for him. If I felt I was performing up to standards, then I felt confident. However, if I was struggling to meet a set of self-imposed expectations or laws, then I was fearful and unsure of my relationship with him. Thinking in those legalistic terms, does not allow faith to grow. I remained in belief, but was never able to take that step.
Do I have all the answers? No. But, my faith is stronger and more solid than it has ever been. I believe it’s because when everything I loved and put my trust in was removed, I had to make a decision to move from a time of belief in God to faith in Him to rescue me. As I lay awake in bed for months and months fearing different life scenarios, I lived in a state of constant fear and anxiety. I believed God could help me, I wanted him to, but when he wasn’t answering my prayers the way I expected him to, I remained in a state of anxiousness. And then something amazing happened, He began showing me that even if my greatest fears were realized; his grace was there to help me in my time of need. As events unfolded, and I continued to see his hand moving, I became more and more confident, and there was a shift in my heart. I began to have a different type of personal encounter with Jesus. He was rescuing me and what I expected or wanted from him changed…and obeying him and allowing his sovereignty to reign in my heart became the issue and not all of my life circumstances.
Over and over I kept seeing his obvious hand in my life, my faith got stronger and I became confident, not in my works or in my desired outcome, but in God’s grace and unconditional love for me. I moved from belief to faith.
Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."