Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Don't Be Afraid, Just Believe...

Believe. A word that is so easy to roll off our tongues, but may feel just the opposite when it comes to actually practicing it. It's also a word that is so easy to quickly offer up to one another, but at the same time may feel completely different for those who the one actually facing the challenges in life. I'm writing this post today in hopes of sharing what can come from simply believing: the hope and peace it can bring, what it means to believe, examples we can trust and overall, the power of believing. It's one thing to read it/know it, but another to actually live it. I have always told y'all, if something has encouraged me, I want to share, even if it can simply encourage one other. 

It's been a year, y'all! I think most of us can agree. Not only on a larger scale with so much going on in our nation, our world! But I feel most of us could agree to this on a personal level as well with trials and challenges that we may be facing in our personal lives. If you've felt this way, goodness friend I am right there with you! It. Has. Been. A. Year.

But Y'all, I have hope. I have a peace, one that surpasses all understanding. Have y'all ever felt something laid on your heart. Maybe it was a word, a phrase or even a task. At first, you may have wanted to push it aside and find a validating reason to ignore it, like "Oh it's just my imagination". But then it comes back into your view. It may be brought back by something you read, a song you heard, a sermon you listened to, a word of encouragement from a friend you trust, or maybe even something so widely and unexpectedly out of your spectrum but it gives you a feeling where you simply cannot ignore it again. Almost like a whisper in your ear saying "hold on to this." I am a firm believer (I will be using this word a lot today haha), that the Lord opens doors for us. It may give a scary feeling of unknown, unbelief and just not sure of how to navigate through it or even if you should enter into it. But let me tell y'all, don't ignore it! It's there, it happened, it came into your life for a reason.

For me, the power of believing has taken a front row seat in my life, especially recently (and yes, I said power because y'all it's powerful!). I was thinking back, and I can so vividly remember when this was laid on my heart. It will also give a little example of what I was talking about in the previous paragraph. Back in February, I had been ordering some things from Etsy for our upcoming Disney trip. Let me also throw in, with "trying to balance the normalcy of life", excited to take Madeline on her first Disney experience and more, there were also things going on that were building up a lot of flat out fear and anxiety within me. I had ordered some matching Minnie Mouse shirts for us from an Etsy shop. When the package arrived, I opened it up to not only find our adorable matching tees, but also a note about the power of having faith. There was also a little key fob in the package with the verse Matthew 17:20 on it, which reads:

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can move mountains.

It was truly one of those "Lord, this is just what I needed to hear today. That is the encouragement I need now, for this season I'm in" moments. I was excited for those cute Disney t-shirts, but I needed to hear that message on having faith, and even the tiniest amount, that would spark a mission to live out a life of believing. I know this sounds funny, but I knew I'd somehow loose that key fob. It was small and delicate. I'm rough with my keys, so I knew if I put it on my keychain, it probably wouldn't survive a big drop haha. I had it in the car with me, and somehow it got intertwined on a cord my, so much that couldn't get it off (without some patience that is). Well, it's still there and a sweet reminder to me every time I get in my car. It may have been a tiny little symbol but with a much bigger meaning. And something that the Lord laid on my heart just when I needed it most, to prepare me for the months to follow. Two or so weeks after that, we went to Disney, our second night there we received news that my Uncle Doug had passed away, quickly ended our trip, and I honestly feel like the weeks (now months) have been snowballing ever since. But like I said, I have faith.

Now I can't lie, y'all it has been tested, I have doubted it, I have lost it. But it keeps coming back. Through things I'm reading, through some amazing mentors in my life, from family members, especially from my precious Madeline, but most importantly through ways I see God working. Just when I feel it start to slip, the Lord brings me right back to a place where I can't let go of it. I'm learning to "overcome my unbelief!"

Don't Be Afraid, Just Believe: A story on the power of believing - Something Delightful Blog

I will never fail to be amazing by "the little things" the Lord places in our lives that keep us going. I talked earlier about the doors He opens. They may seem more like "big" (even at times scary) things, but I'm also a firm believer that we can't ignore the little things as well. They're those things that almost feel like a whisper, as I mentioned above. Those little things that, just as we feel like we're about to give up, need that extra little push, a reminder to keep going, we feel it. God knows your sitting down, your rising up and understands your every thought, so never for once think He doesn't know what you're feeling. Just as we, as parents, understand things troubling our children, how much more does God understand with us being His children. and it's through the "little things", that light that is just enough for the current step we're on, that encourage us to keep going. I'll give y'all a prime example of something that was, has been and continues to be "a little light" for me: Madeline's kids Bible Story books :) How amazing to see and witness that "childlike faith." For Easter, Madeline got a kids Bible story book. In a little over a months time, we tore through all 500-ish pages. It was like she couldn't get enough. Seeing her "childlike faith" come to life with these readings was what I felt myself striving to have as well. Since she enjoyed that one so much, I ordered her several others from Amazon. What I love about them is that "childlike faith" they each encourage. I don't know about y'all, but us adults need that just as much. But the reason I'm telling this, I was starting to see those "little things" appear to me through reading with her. Overall, a common theme of believing! And it is through these Bible stories, miracles we see performed throughout God's Word, God-sized tasks that only He could do, that have helped me grasp on to the desire to simply believe. There are so many, and I know we have heard of many of them, but I really encourage y'all to just read through them. And when you do, I want you to pay close attention to the power of "believing" and "having faith" as a common theme. I'll just briefly mention a few that have meant so much to me.

Jesus heals a demon possessed boy: Matthew 17: 14-20 & Mark 9:14-29

In this story, we see a boy who had been demon posessed since his childhood. I don't know about y'all, but reading the description of this boy just gives me an eerie feeling! His father had asked Jesus' disciples to drive out the spirit but, as he goes on to tell Jesus, they could not. I love how this story exemplifies this father's cry for help for his son. He says to Jesus, "But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." Boy does that sound familiar. I don't know about y'all, but I for one have certainly found myself crying out that "If" statement many times. But here's what I love, Jesus goes on to say "If you can?" "Everything is possibly for the one who believes." The boy's father replied, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Then, Jesus healed commanded the spirit to leave the boy. Wow. Y'all I have no words. It went from that question of "if" Jesus can, to I believe he can. That belief is what Jesus wanted to see. 

Jesus raises a dead girl and heals a sick woman: Matthew 9:18-26 & Luke 8:40-56

In this story, Jesus has just returned to a huge crowd around him. This crowd was so large that it "almost crushed him." It tells us of a man named Jairus whose only daughter was facing death. He "fell at Jesus' feet" asking him to come to his house. It next tells that Jesus was "on his way" to the house when, just as we think in our heads the story will go, there is another individual who interrupts the process. We don't know this woman's name and really nothing other than the fact that she had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. But she had a mission, she had faith, she believed...believed that if she could simply "touch the edge of his cloak" she would be healed. And guess what, she did and she was! But when we read further, we see that Jesus realized what had happened. He stopped and exclaimed that "someone touched me." We may ask how could Jesus, NOT know? Didn't he heal her? But I love this that I read in the notes of my study Bible, "Jesus wasn't asking because he didn't know. He said this so that she could be pointed out and praise God!" It then tells us that the woman came out "trembling" (goodness I know I would have too!) and fell at Jesus' feet. She told him why she touched him and had been instantly healed. And I love these next words. Jesus said, "daughter your faith has healed you. Go in peace." Your FAITH had healed you. 

But the story doesn't end there! What about Jairus' daughter?! By this time, we are told that she had already died. Someone had come from Jairus' house and exclaimed to Jairus "Your daughter is dead,...don't bother the teacher anymore." Y'all I had to stop myself right there. How familiar this felt! How many times in our lives do we feel that. Maybe with something we've been earnestly praying for, a season we've been in for "far too long", just when we're ready to give up. We feel like what's the use! Why bother anymore. We start to loose faith. Just as this individual from Jairus had done (let along Jairus I'm sure started to), Jesus exclaims, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed."And she was, just as Jesus said. Something else that came to my mind in this story, how many times do we growing weary in the waiting game. Honestly as if we're saying "anytime now, Lord!" Which is I'm sure what Jairus was feeling. But I believe God works things out in the way, almost as in the final hour, so that we are left with such an awe, knowing it was something only He could do!

Jesus forgives and heals a paralyzed man: Matthew 5:17-26

In this story, the faith in Jesus exemplified by the men carrying their paralyzed friend is on a whole new level. One that I strive to have. Jesus was teaching to a large crowd of people that had come from all over. But these men with a mission; they had their paraplegic friend on his mat and a determination to get him to Jesus. But when they got there, there was a problem! The crowd was so large that there was no way to get him to Jesus. The story doesn't tell us how heavy this man was, what his mat looked like, how easy it was to hold or how many of this man's friends were there to hold him. But what we do see is a whole lot of determination! A whole lot of faith! Their mindset was we've got to get our buddy to Jesus, and right in front of him. The crowd was so large that I would guess it felt next to impossible to push their way through the crowd. So what do they do? They get their friend on the roof, remove the tiles and lower him into the middle of the crowd right in front of Jesus. Then my favorite part, the story tells us, when Jesus "saw their faith", he healed their friend. I also think it's fascinating to now put ourselves from the thoughts of these friends to those of someone in the crowd. Imagine being there listening to Jesus and all of the sudden, this man comes in from the roof, right into the middle of the crowd! The story tells us, when everyone saw this, they were amazed and "filled with awe!" 

Jesus walks on water: Matthew 14: 22-32

One more of my favorites I want to share today and this is the story of Jesus walking on water. But not only Jesus, but also Peter! What I love about this story other than seeing the power of Jesus is something so relatable for you and me. So in this story, Jesus commands his disciples to get into a boat and go ahead of him while he dismissed the crowd. Afterwards, Jesus goes up onto the mountain to pray by himself. As time goes on, the disciples were already a considerable ways ahead of him and caught in a storm. The waves and wind beat up against the boat, and the disciples called out to Jesus to save them. Jesus begins to walk on the lake towards them. The disciples were at first afraid and thought Jesus was a ghost. Here's my favorite part. Peter then says, "Lord if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water." So he did and began to walk to Jesus on the water. But he got distracted by wind, became afraid and sank into the roaring waves. I like to stop here for a minute and think of times when I've been going along in life, everything seems to be going normal and all the sudden something happens that will turn everything upside down. I become afraid, I start to doubt, I loose faith, I start to sink. My fears become a distraction (like the wind) and I loose sight of the One who will pull me through. Nothing scares me more than dark water, nonetheless choppy dark water. I can't begin to think how scary that was for Peter when he began to sink into that water. Peter then shouts, "Lord, save me!" Then Jesus says to him, "You of little faith. Why did you doubt?" This is such an encouragement that when the waters seem dark and choppy, when distractions are swirling around like the raging wind, tempting me to loose faith, don't! Keep my faith and picture grabbing Jesus' hand to lead you across whatever dark water you may be facing. 

Okay I'll stop here with my favorites because I know this post is getting lengthy. But there are many more to read about: John 4:43-54, Matthew 8:5-13, Matthew 8:23-27, Matthew 9:27-31, John 11: 1-46, just to name a few more. I love reading these because it puts into perspective the power of believing! 

After reading these, I want to bring this power of believing back to a more personal, present level. And the best way I know to do this is share some words taken from my favorite devotional, The Quiet Place my Nancy DeMoss. This is my third time going through this one, and each time I read it, the Lord reveals new and amazing things to me. This was my third time reading this day, but this year, I read it on a day that I couldn't have needed it more. Don't you love how the Lord works in that way?! It's the little things, y'all! Here are some of the words from this particular reading:

"What if we believed in him (God) for the impossible?" "Don't ever forget that God-sized tasks cannot be carried out apart from His power at work in and through us." "And yet God specializes in the impossible - the unexplainable! So that when the victory is won and the task is complete, we cannot take credit. Others know we didn't do it and we know we didn't do it." "We must be willing to get out of the way and let God take over." "We will see Him do what only He can do, and those around us will be moved to believe."
~ Nancy DeMoss ~

Now these stories I mentioned above are New Testament stories that involve Jesus but I quickly want to mention one from the Old Testament, the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, exemplifies a huge amount of belief. If you're familiar with the story, you already know, but King Nebuchadnezzar had just issued a decree that when the people hear the sounds of music, they were to bow down and worship the the image of gold. Anyone who did not obey would be thrown into the fiery furnace. However, these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, refused to serve the king's gods. The king warned they would be thrown into the blazing furnace. But I love their response, their belief. They said, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it. But even if he does not, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold." I'll come back to some of what they said, but the story continues to tell us that the king, in his raging fury, heated the furnace to be seven times as hot! So hot the the soldiers who threw them in were immediately killed by the flames. Then to the king's unbelief, there were four, not three, men walking around in the fire. They were walking around "unbound" and "unharmed". The king then commanded the men to walk out of the furnace, and they did. Not only did they walk out with "no harm to their bodies, their hair was not singed, nor were their robes scorched." But there also "wasn't even a smell of fire on them!" Wow! Then the people were all led to believe! 

I want to address one more thing. I know there are times when we pray, believe and things don't go as we would like to see them. Bad things happen. Sad things happen. Things we absolutely cannot understand on this side of heaven. Things we never signed up for. Sometimes we can't help but want to question God for allowing things to go as they did. You may say "I believed and things went exactly as I had hoped they wouldn't." But regardless of the outcome, I want to encourage y'all of the hope, the help and the peace that comes from believing. It's a process of learning not to fear the outcome but to trust the process. Have faith. Believe. Believe that he "is able" to deliver you, just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego exclaimed. I cling to Ephesians 3:20:

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."

So I ask you, do you believe? Do you believe he is not only able, but able to do immeasurably more than you could ever ask or imagine?! Do you believe "everything is possibly for the one who believes"? Do you believe that you can carry out a mission to live out a life of faith? Even if it's "faith as small as a mustard seed" or simply "touching the edge of his cloak"? Could you have faith so strong that when the crowd seems impossible to get through, even when the wind is so strong and the water is so dark, when you start to drown, that your belief in your Heavenly Father will carry you through? To cry out "Lord, help me!", reach for his hand and walk across on water? Can you believe in him for the impossible? To carry out God-sized tasks that seem impossible without his help? Let me tell y'all, you can. You can believe. And believe so strongly that when you come out on the other side, not even your clothes will smell like fire! And others who see your story, they will be moved to the power of belief. And you especially will.

I'll leave you with one last verse today. One that I love and one that really helps me understand the beauty, peace and the confidence that comes with a heart full of faith and belief:

Now Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

I hope this could encourage y'all today. Love y'all!

2 comments:

  1. Love this post so much sweet Rachel! Your thoughts on faith are always such a blessing to me!

    xoxo A
    www.southernbelleintraining.com

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