That Our Faith Would Not Fail

Jesus told Peter that Satan had asked permission to sift him like wheat but that He was going to be praying for him, that his faith would not fail. (Luke 22:31-32) Then Jesus gave Peter a picture of what it would look like to follow Him. He said: You’ll be taken places you do not want to go. You’ll have zero control. When Peter asked if the others would have it that bad, Jesus answered: None of your business and not your problem! You must follow Me. (John 21:18-22) Whew. Those must have been some life altering moments for Peter. And like a few other life altering moments for Peter that I can call to mind from Scripture, I fit in his shoes quite well. Stepping out, sinking. Demanding, head lowering. Zealous, unfaithful.

What can we take from these encounters of Jesus with Peter when we ourselves have a crisis of faith, a mountain ahead we just don’t want to have to climb?

1) We can take from these conversations a realization that we ourselves may be in the process of being “sifted”, meaning when it’s over (this particular circumstance and this earthly life), some of who we are will be left and some of who we are will be gone, thrown out, dead. Satan intends the sifting for our pain, in hopes our faith will fail, but Jesus intends the sifting for our benefit, so that we are refined like gold. It hurts. There are cancers being cut out of us. He sees what we cannot, and if we are to be His vessels here to show His Kingdom to the world, there are things in us that simply cannot remain.

2) We can see this unbelievable truth right along with the first: Jesus Himself is interceding for us. And He is interceding to the Father on our behalf, praying that our faith would not fail. He is the leader of that great cloud of witnesses cheering us on! Is He praying we will get everything we’re wanting? Is He praying our answers would come quickly and easily? I don’t see that here. I see His concern is our perseverance and character. I see His concern is our encouragement and an ability to keep going even when our plans fail and our hearts break.

3) We can see while our relationship with the Lord is incredibly enriched by community, there is an element of this relationship that is naked, alone, face to face, “just you and me here now”. We can’t worry about the size of other people’s mountains, callings, or pain. We can’t worry about the magnitude of other people’s success, riches, or ease. If we have given our lives to the Lord, they are just that: His.

It’s a death, a real death, to realize these things. We’re dying to self, to immaturity, to trying to make things true just because we want them to be true, not because they’re scripturally sound. It’s not taking on bitterness or apathy, it’s taking on the yoke that we chose in accepting Christ, the yoke that is only easy and light once we lose our strong opinions and absolute need to be in charge.

By His Spirit, we have joy in the journey, yes, even this leg of the journey. By His Blood, we have peace and friendship with God. By His dwelling in us, we have resurrection life that is the very breath in our lungs. Friends, in whatever mountain you’re climbing, whether you chose that mountain and now see how impossible it is to climb, or whether you are going through a trial you did not choose at all, I want to tell you this:

Whatever you have lost and whatever you feel you lack, you do have what you need to make it through.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, angels nor demons, present nor the future, any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in ALL creation, will be able to separate us from the LOVE OF GOD THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.” (Romans 8:35-39)

#HowToBuild: Intro to New Blog Series

Some time ago I wrote a blog that mentioned how I’m re-learning this truth: “Build yourself up in your most holy faith…” Jude :20

How often I forget that just like my physical being needs continuous nutrients, my spiritual being needs continuous nutrients as well! So, what are those nutrients? How does one get to a deeper level, a more life-giving place, with God? And the even bigger question: How does one continue with that growth in a steadfast way, rather than the roller coaster ride most of us are accustomed to?

There’s a lot to explore here, but I do know this: It comes down to a daily decision. A daily choice. And that’s no one’s choice but our own.

For today…will we choose to turn our faces toward the Lord and do the work necessary to abide in Him?

A couple of weeks ago, I had a dream that spoke exactly to this and it really amazed me! I dreamt I woke up and the very first thing I did was go into a garage that was connected to my house (I don’t really have a garage but in my dream, I did.) I opened the door and saw two cars. One car was already warmed up for me. The engine was already purring. It looked like I wouldn’t have to think about it, do a single thing for it, in fact it seemed as if I wouldn’t even have to drive it but that it would drive me!  The other car was cold. It was on E. The battery was barely hanging on and would need a jump. Which did I have time for? Which seemed the most attractive? Which was easier to hop in and start my day with?

I woke up knowing exactly what the Spirit of God was saying to me, and oh how I needed to hear it. I could choose to walk in the flesh all day, which is always warmed up and ready to go, and let my natural (read: ungodly) responses to people and life rule my mind, mouth, attitude, and actions…or I could choose to pause for a little while and let my heart and mind be renewed and transformed in the presence of my Savior, a work that is His work but that I have to ask for and acknowledge my need of.

So this is just a picture of our choice. It’s just spelling out the simple truth that loving God, embracing His love for us (being changed by this gift), and being able to show His love to others don’t just happen spontaneously. No, we shed the garments of the flesh, and we put on the garments of righteousness. Not just on the day of salvation, but everyday, through confession of sin, prayer, worship, being in the Word of God, putting on our spiritual armor, being in fellowship with other believers, obeying, using our spiritual gifts, and many more practices that refresh, remind, and revive. I used to be so aggravated that I would wake up to a battle every morning. I would go to bed peaceful and in love with Jesus and wake up as fleshly as flesh can be. I still do. The difference is that now I expect this! Take that, Satan! Now I know that battle will be there, and it stands as my opportunity to consciously choose to walk in the Spirit instead. Amen!

For the next month or two, I want to write a series of blogs talking about how to “build yourself up in your most holy faith.” I have been the victim of the enemy for so long, in emotional and mental battles, in morning misery, in thinking I should be better, be stronger, live closer to the Lord…But now I know the truth. #1, it’s not just me!! #2, the Word of God clearly details how we can be strengthened for those battles, no longer a victim, no longer caught off guard. So, what I’m writing about is elementary, the blog titles will not wow anybody, but still, many of us including myself need to hear these truths and walk in them in a consistent manner in order to see the victory we long for, to be the people who will bring His Kingdom ways into this day, and to have the joy that should characterize a child of God!

Today’s blog is the introduction to the series, and we’ll jump into specifics, in no particular order, soon! I also have some songs I’m writing that I would like to include in these series, so I pray that the Lord will speak these magnificent truths through my very small offering of words.  The first song I want to share to go with this series is We Come Out Shining. This is on the CD Who We Are While We Wait available at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lyndsaytaylor3 or iTunes.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3-6