By: Rev. Suzie Chamness
Faltering faith is like going to a gym, taking your lawn chair and sitting down and watching all the people exercise and then picking up the chair, putting it in the car and then stopping by the local ice cream shop to reward you for such a good job.
Watching won't strengthen your muscles; it won't keep you fit and strong. Exercise is important. In that gym are all kinds of equipment to tone your body muscle and help you stay strong and healthy but you got to make use of the equipment? Sitting and watching others do the work won't get it done.
In the spiritual realm, we need that useful exercise too. We say we have faith in Christ. But it's another thing to be able to make use of our live in a strong, victorious Christian way.
Faith is like your body's muscles. You have to make use of it each day to make it strong. We often say we have faith in God. We say we believe that Christ can do anything, but then we try to take control as though everything will not work out if we let God take care of us. We go about our faith belief as if it depends on us. That's not much faith.
Mark 4:35-41 tells the story of the boat ride with the disciples where a storm came up through which Jesus was trying to get some rest. The disciples became afraid and woke Jesus inquiring why he would be resting when they are about to perish. Jesus stilled the storm and inquired of them, "have you so little faith?"
Jesus has never been a victim of the circumstances. And if we have faith, we will not be a victim because of lack of faith. Jesus went through many challenges with the disciples. They were faced with devastating events, life threatening storms. He was faced with demons that he cast out. He seemed to go through these seemingly helpless situations without what seems to us ease. It cause Christ little struggle.
When Jesus said, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" He is actually telling us we can overcome it. Actually you and I need not be so terrified by fears.
It doesn't matter whether the devil caused the storm or not Jesus expects the disciples to be able to handle it by faith! It doesn't matter even if the demons seemed to have things under his control, they submit to Jesus.
The fact that the disciples were frightened tells us it was no ordinary storm because at least four of the disciples were experienced fishermen. They had survived storms before. They knew what to do in a storm. But this one sent them into panic. This storm was obviously beyond man's help. Yet Jesus exercised authority over that storm.
The disciples seemed to be in a hopeless, helpless situations; seemingly impossible to do anything! We have Jesus with absolute authority and power. No circumstance or storm could defy the authority and power of His Word. And neither should we.
Storms will inevitably occur, but no matter how difficult the situation, the question is: Are we prepared to stand in faith, believing Christ and His Word. Our challenge is to admit to God we are struggling in a storm and to be aware that even when we seem to have little faith, Christ will calm the wind and the waves will cease.
He expects us to exercise our faith. Christ expects us to cry out to God - pray that the storm would stop; ask God to help us in our lives. If we have faith in God, then we will keep God in the picture. We will receive the help we need and the help will come.
When we struggle with our own efforts or with what we believe we control, we are trying to find a strength in ourselves that just isn't there. Faith needs to be consistently working with the exercise of prayers.
Faith does not lie dormant. Faith by itself will not work. Faith without action will die. We must exercise our faith. We must act on our faith. Faith is like that muscle, and prayer helps it become strong.
To be strong physically you need to exercise your body, not just sit and watch. To be strong spiritually we need to exercise our faith. Mark wanted us to know that Jesus has given us the authority, and expects us to exercise that authority through faith.
If we fall to the storms of our life, it only means we have surrendered to it. You see, the disciples were crippled by their fear in a very difficult storm, and we can empathize with them; yet Jesus' response was "Why are you so afraid?" Where's your faith. WE throw our faith out the window!
We fail because we gave in to our circumstances. We fail to receive the faith: we give up. God did not give us up. Nothing can really stop us. The only problem is we limit ourselves, by our own fears and doubts.
Jesus said in Matthew17:20 that if we could just have faith the size of that mustard seed, we can move mountains but we have to exercise that faith.
We respond to things in the physical realm with more faith than the spiritual realm. Get into an elevator and we believe it will take us up to our floor. We get into the plane expecting to get to our destination. In fact, we would be surprised if anything malfunctions.
But in the spiritual realm, what God has said. We seem to act the opposite. We find it hard to believe what Christ says and yet we know it works. We see things really happening - sick are healed, people are kept safe from accident - we are pleasantly surprised, we tell people about it, because we didn't expect it.
We have to learn to trust God. Exercising faith in what God has said. We should pray, and then walk away believing everything will be fine expecting God to take care of all things in our life. We don't pray because we feel that things are still in control. Jesus would ask, "Where is your faith? Do you still have no faith?" He diagnosed correctly - where is our faith? Do we have faith in God?
Rev. Suzie Chamness serves as the Interim Pastor of Spirit of Life MCC in New Port Richey, Florida. Contact her by email at revsuzie-at-spiritoflifemcc.org
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