Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: God Gets Direct

Yesterday I told a little bit of my faith story over at Rachel Held Evans’ place, and I concluded the post with the admission that faith is a conscious choice I make every day. Faith is not a natural state for me. I don’t have faith like I breathe. I don’t have faith like some people have faith, ingrained on their hearts and woven into the very essence of their being.

I wish I could say that belief has become easier for me. I think most of you who read my blog regularly would assume that is the case. But it’s not.

Don’t get me wrong. I look and listen for God, and I see and hear him every day. Not only that, I also believe in my heart that I see and hear him. Yet I still question, I still waffle, I still wonder and doubt that it’s all real and true.

I realize that’s a contradiction: that I say I see him every day in one breath, and then admit that I doubt he exists in the next breath. But that’s the way faith is for me: ebb and flow, surge and retreat.

Lately I’ve wondered if perhaps I’m just too darn analytical. Just this week I gave myself a tough love talk. “Get over it, for crying out loud,” I found myself thinking. “Stop all the foolishness, stop all the waffling and questioning and vacillating, and just believe. Once and for all just believe.”

The next day, I read a devotion by Richard Rohr, entitled “The Time is Here”:

“Salvation is now…it’s called the always-available grace of the present moment. It’s the first word Jesus preaches: 'The time is now! The Kingdom is present and here. Turn around. Believe the Good News' (Mark 1:15). In these four phrases we have the summation of all of Jesus’ teachings. It’s nothing esoteric or pseudo-mystical, just the infinite nature of now. Just let go and let yourself fall into it. It’s a net you cannot fall out of. You are seeking what you already have. You have been knocking on the door from the inside.” (Radical Grace: Daily Meditations)

And then, if that weren’t enough to seal the deal, I heard this in today’s reading from the Gospel of John:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1).

What’s interesting about this verse is that I’ve always heard and read the NIV translation: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” In fact, that’s the verse I memorized and carried with me all last year. But the ESV translation – “Believe in God; believe also in me” – that I heard today is new to me.

Only a single word is different from the NIV to the ESV: believe. And that single word makes all the difference to me.

I love it when God gets direct with me. He knows my waffling nature. He knows my questions and my heart, my belief and disbelief.

He knows me.

What is God speaking to you lately? Has he ever had to get direct with you?

Welcome to the Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday community. If you are here for the first time, feel free to click here for details and instructions on how to link up. Or, if you're easy-breezy, copy the code for the "Hear It, Use It" button in the sidebar to the right, and simply paste it into your post.

And remember, you don't need to write exactly about Sunday's reading or sermon; you can simply write about a verse or even a hymn that you've been pondering anytime recently. Also, you can come by anytime during the week to link up -- it stays open until Friday. Thanks so much for participating...and don't forget to visit other participants and comment on their thoughts this week if you can!

Jen  – (April 17, 2011 at 5:04 PM)  

I've often said that it's easy for me to have faith that God will do for someone else, harder to believe it for me. But, really, it's because there is that very real risk that I have to take to believe for myself. There are possible consequences if I step out and then...what if. But what is the risk of not stepping out? Of not believing? Much greater than I can imagine, I would dare say.

Gaby  – (April 17, 2011 at 5:16 PM)  

Michelle, you are not alone in this by any means. I call it "cosmic joke." I think: what if all this is just one cosmic joke? I journal so I can look back in my times of doubt and see tangible moments where God was there, no doubt about it. But if you think about it, God knows our heart. If not, why include in the Bible the story of the father who brutally honest tells Jesus: "I believe, but help my doubt"? Thank you for your honesty.

Amy Sullivan  – (April 17, 2011 at 5:58 PM)  

First, love the word waffle. I think you use that in your Nice to Meet You section. I remember reading it months ago and thinking waffling is a good way to describe my faith at times too.

God always has to be direct with me. Too often I think some of the things He whispers are things I want. So he continues to tell me until sometimes I feel as if he is shouting!

Jenn  – (April 17, 2011 at 6:51 PM)  

I love this Idea! I'll definitely be linking up in a bit. One things stuck me though in todays sermon that I think could be the same for belief. The pastor said yesterdays mercies don't cover today. We need new ones. I may say having faith is "easy" for me, but do my actions most day reflect my belief? Then I'm not so sure. I think my belief needs to be renewed continually as well, while I may not wake of in the middle of the night doubting the existence of God, sometimes how I live my day shows that I have lost the seriousness of the belief.

Anna See  – (April 17, 2011 at 9:13 PM)  

I love this! My prayer every day is "I believe, Help my unbelief." xo,

Connie@raise your eyes  – (April 17, 2011 at 11:21 PM)  

"You are seeking what you already have. You have been knocking on the door from the inside."...I love this...

I truly "believe":) that laughter is one of GOD's attributes..loving humor for His children as He gives us direct answers.

Laura@OutnumberedMom  – (April 18, 2011 at 5:37 AM)  

I have a friend who says, "Oh, I'm gazing at my navel again..."! You know what? The Kingdom takes all types. Those who lean toward analysis make the simpler of us think. That's a good thing.

Yes, He's direct with me sometimes. I got hit in the face with a palm frond yesterday...(figuratively).

Charity Singleton  – (April 18, 2011 at 5:49 AM)  

I wonder if our doubts make us better believers . . . and yet, our doubts also provide excuses that keep us from jumping in when we know we should.

I love hearing about these parts of your faith; I've also loved watching your faith swell and grow over the past couple of years that I've known you. Jesus is at work in you, doubts or not.

Kendal  – (April 18, 2011 at 7:30 AM)  

pride. and i don't like it. i love your posts about faith. so important for people to hear how we struggle. i used to think i was the only person who struggled with anything.

Cameron  – (April 18, 2011 at 7:32 AM)  

I left this comment over on Rachel Held Evans' blog and your guest post there - and I thought I would jump over and post it here for you...I have seen a number of comments [at Rachel's blog} that run If there isn't a God, then life really has no meaning or purpose. Be careful with this one...I have a number of friends who are atheists. Each and every one of them has great joy in life, in this world around them, a deep peace and connection to that world, and incredible ethics. Life has profound joyous meaning for them...in someways more meaning than that of many of my Christian friends who seem - pardon the expression - hell bent on just getting through this life and getting it out of the way to get to the next. I had one Christian who told me he could not wait to be done and get this all over with so he could get on with Heaven. He was very depressed and angry, and this life that God gave him had little or no meaning for him. He viewed this incredible world and life with all its beauty and joy as just an aggravation that for some reason God was putting him through to get to a destination. And he's not the only Christian I have heard variations on that theme from. Belief is not a carte blanche access to meaning, or joy. Belief is about more than just accessing meaning. "Lack of belief" does not automatically equate no meaning. Hanging the only hope of meaning or purpose solely on belief is dangerous. Because everyone encounters doubts, and struggles, seeking belief only because lack of meaning is intolerable is a dangerous place to stand. Beliefs can give life meaning indeed, but they cannot equate each other. I believe profoundly in God myself. But if I were to reach the end of this existence and find that there is nothing beyond, I know that I will still have the joy of my life and what I have seen and heard and done and nothing can make that meaningless.
Your post here today extends my thoughts on this - the "Kingdom of God" is not somewhere that we will someday live. It is where we live now. Here and now, in this moment. It is a dwelling place, a metaphor for relationship, for connection. When we relegate it to a future destination that we must believe in, to give life meaning, we miss the point (my opinion, yes). When we assign all meaning to only making it to the future destination, we miss where we live today and dwell in this world in the heart of God. As I have said, I have often been amazed at the bitterness of many Christians of all denominations who are so willing to trade here and now for the idea that meaning only begins in the "next life". Its isn't a "next life" that we can only have when we get there, it is the continuation of the one we live NOW...and if we don't invest it with all the joy and sorrow, and doubts and hopes and getting banged up and picking ourselves up and experiencing every moment of it, we are not living. We are not invested in the "Kingdom of God". Jesus said we must have the faith of a little child - and for a child every day is precious unto itself, for every butterfly, every tear, every drop of sunlight or taste of raindrop on their tongue, skinned knees and nap times and all. They know they are alive NOW...they don't suddenly become alive at the magical moment of becoming legal adults. (although teenagers certainly arrive at that belief many times! LOL!) We are children in the dwelling place of God and we are alive and there is meaning in the here and now. And there are many who do not share our beliefs, but have that same joy and meaning...perhaps they are the "sheep not of this fold". Just some thoughts...Thanks for your blog, it is beautiful!

Leslie  – (April 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM)  

I like that translation of John 14:1 better, too. As for faith, it is... faith. You know? Although there is a rational road to Christian belief (historical, archaeological, etc.), at some point there is that step-off-the-edge-of-the-cliff moment. That leap of... faith. And at different points in our lives, we leap, and leap again. Into the unknown, with Him.

Laura  – (April 18, 2011 at 8:58 AM)  

Thank you for your transparency. I admit, I've had some ebbing moments of faith myself. I just finished reading Cameron's comment and am also grateful for the thoughts expressed there. I agree--yes, the Kingdom of God is here, with us, and we are the broken ones. We are not perfect--we doubt and question and flounder. But there is beauty there and embracing that, I think, is part of what this journey is about.

A blessed Holy Monday to you!

Charming's Mama  – (April 18, 2011 at 9:18 AM)  

Hey Michelle, not sure what I could add after having read everyone else's comments. But I do want to say thanks. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings and giving us a place to do so also. I'm linked up today.

S. Etole  – (April 18, 2011 at 10:39 AM)  

The photo of the "bleeding" heart is so appropriate for your words ... our hearts bleed many things ...

Jennifer  – (April 18, 2011 at 12:38 PM)  

What I love about God is that he'll meet us at our doubts and give us those little signs, like your devotion reading and reading from the Gospel of John. Some would pass them off as coincidence, but the person experiencing this little gift from God knows it's the confirmation he or she needed!

And, honestly, I think a little dose of doubt is okay if it forces us to dig and examine why we believe the things we say we believe. And in the end, that's why we need faith, anyway.

God is speaking to me about my need for patience with my kids and marriage. And, yes, He got very direct with me this weekend, spoke clearly, and gave me the confirmation I needed so that I knew I was hearing from Him.

Heidiopia  – (April 18, 2011 at 1:35 PM)  

I love it when His perfect words are put before me... the ones that strip away excuses and half-hearted embraces of faith. You're so wise to have your ears and your heart open, Michelle. Faith is a journey with twists and turns. Hope you're having a blessed day!

Kara  – (April 18, 2011 at 2:19 PM)  

Thank you for being so open about the struggle...I love that verse that Anna quoted..."I believe, help my unbelief" because it makes me sense that God absolutely knows our struggle.
For me--"still here" is the very evidence of your faith.
You're still here...seeking Him...talking to Him...writing about Him. This post was a great encouragement to me because I think most of us over-analyzers struggle with these same thoughts, but find it difficult to share without others doubting our faith.
What I love about God is that just when I'm struggling--He gives me that extra gift of love, that nudge that says, "I'm here. And I'm real" (as He did with you).

Shaunie @ Up the Sunbeam  – (April 18, 2011 at 2:42 PM)  

Athol Dickson says, "God loves an honest question." I love that and I think there is all kinds of room in God's living room for His kids to bring their questions to Him. I also think it's important for us to have grappled with those questions until we've wrestled the blessing out of them so that when our pre-Christian friends ask those same questions, we have our sometimes hard-won answers that are real and authentic. But I do love how God sometimes just calms us with those "Just believe," moments. Thanks for sharing this!

Linda  – (April 18, 2011 at 3:27 PM)  

The Lord spoke directly to me through your words Michelle. I saw so much of myself in what your said. I long for the simple faith I had as a child; I have become far too analytical. I often have to walk myself back to that place of simple believing. It is encouraging to know that I am not alone and that it really is just as simple as choosing to believe.

Me  – (April 18, 2011 at 3:31 PM)  

Don't you just love how God "pops" things out to us, right when we need them? He's pretty awesome that way.

I read your post on Rachel Held Evan's blog and was moved by it. I'm also finding myself moved by this post. Such honesty when speaking of faith is so refreshing. :)

peggy aplSEEDS  – (April 18, 2011 at 6:28 PM)  

a lovely post. so many of us can relate to those ebbs and flows. TFS!

Nancy  – (April 18, 2011 at 9:05 PM)  

Believe is my word for this year and, you're right--daily it is an exercise of faith, daily it is a battle to remind myself that yes, I believe God is good and God is faithful and all will be well.

Planning to link again soon. The words just wouldn't behave themselves today. Blessings, friend.

emily wierenga  – (April 18, 2011 at 9:29 PM)  

he knows me.

oh michelle...

thank you for always being honest and real.

GLENDA CHILDERS  – (April 18, 2011 at 10:01 PM)  

One of my favorite prayers from the Bible is the guy who prayed, "I believe, help now my unbelief." I pray this often, as it reflects the reality of me . . . I do believe and I need help with my unbelief. The "waffle". Thanks for sharing your journey with this.


nance marie  – (April 19, 2011 at 1:18 AM)  

thanks for this, i can relate.

Jennifer  – (April 27, 2011 at 10:56 AM)  

What I love about God is that he'll meet us at our doubts and give us those little signs, like your devotion reading and reading from the Gospel of John. Some would pass them off as coincidence, but the person experiencing this little gift from God knows it's the confirmation he or she needed!

And, honestly, I think a little dose of doubt is okay if it forces us to dig and examine why we believe the things we say we believe. And in the end, that's why we need faith, anyway.

God is speaking to me about my need for patience with my kids and marriage. And, yes, He got very direct with me this weekend, spoke clearly, and gave me the confirmation I needed so that I knew I was hearing from Him.

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