I go to a little church called Second Mile. I won't go into all the reasons I love and adore it because I'm saving that for another post coming sometime soon. But the important thing here is not that I do love and adore it, but that right now we are making our way through the book of Hebrews together on Sunday evenings. And since I'm filling up my little corner of the internet with words, I am going to start a little series I'm calling Musings on Hebrews. This will not be teaching; I'll leave that to our pastor, Chad. (I know everyone is grateful for this condescension on my part.) This series will be my thoughts on how I might be able to apply His words to my life, maybe some prayers that come out of what I'm processing, or questions I'm mulling over. If you would like to experience Hebrews with us, you can click here for the audio/video of Chad's messages. They are so full of good words and this is just a sliver of what I'm reflecting on throughout my week.
Last week we focused on Hebrews 3:7-19. This passage talks a lot about unbelief and compares our propensity toward unbelief to the Israelites' while wandering the desert. Good, meaty stuff. During his message, Chad noted that (I'm paraphrasing) unbelief robs God of his glory and robs the unbeliever of the privilege of seeing God's blessing in providing for his household. When we don't believe God in whatever area of life, whether for our salvation, His promies, His faithfulness, we rob him and ourselves. And, naturally, this got me thinking about my own unbelief. How many times have I missed out on seeing God provide or work because of my unbelief? How many times have I robbed him of glory? Many more times than I'd like to think about, and certainly even more than I really remember. I find this so disappointing. I mean, no one is perfect, so we're all going to miss some opportunities, but what if we didn't? What if we always believed God and his promises and obeyed in accordance with such great faith? How much more glory would he receive and how much more would we get to see that glory displayed this side of heaven?
Then I started to pray for belief and repent for the opportunities I lose, but mostly to ask for his grace to fill me with belief. Because what I'm tempted to do when faced with my own unbelief, or any shortcoming, really, is to try to believe more or harder or better. I start to think that I can simply be aware of the problem and force my way into obedience from my own strength. I start to think that I can strive to believe in order to make God proud or let him see he didn't waste his blood on me, to show him I was worth it.
Isn't that just so ugly and disgusting? It's prideful and doesn't give glory to God at all. I cannot earn my salvation, I cannot prove I was worth it because the cold, hard truth is that I wasn't. He didn't die on the cross because I'm special or worth it. He did it because of his own mercy and grace and goodness. He did it for his own glory and I can't earn favor with him now or at anytime in the future. And you know what else I can't do? I can't make myself believe more. Only God's grace in my life can do that. Only his Holy Spirit in me can bring any kind of sanctifying change in my heart.
So what's a girl to do? Sit back and twiddle my thumbs and wait for him to show up and magically change me? Of course not! God wants me to participate in my sanctification. If I could do it on my own, then I wouldn't need Jesus and he wouldn't get the glory for the work being done in my life. I would. So he somehow orchestrated it so that he does the work in my soul and that I join him in that work by being obedient through faith. Chad also said last week that being in His word increases our ability to understand him. How could getting to know God's character better not increase my faith? So, some practical things I can do to grow my belief? Meditate on his word, spend time in it, learn it, memorize it. I can allow him to show me his faithfulness by expecting him to do big things, praying and talking to him throughout my day. I can be more intentional about listening to him, through his word and through his Spirit. And again, not to earn God's favor, but to increase my depth of relationship with him. He will not fail me and the more I trust him, the more my faith and belief will grow. And the more glory I will give him and the more of his blessings I will get to witness, for myself and others. It has to be about Jesus, not me. Unfortunately that's a lesson I keep having to learn in new and deeper ways. But I'm so grateful that he cares to do the hard work in us and not leave us to ourselves.