I usually put out free verse poems, but sorry to disappoint you today, this is going to be something different.
For a long time, I’d been at a level of faith (belief), that for convenience, I’ll call the ‘intellectual level’. I believe everything in the Bible is true and inspired by the Spirit of God. I know all the miracles – and there are some really blatantly epic ones – and most of the stories by heart. But they just didn’t seem or feel like they would apply or happen to me…couldn’t really accept that they could happen to me (just for the record, I don’t particularly look forward to wrestling with a lion, or surviving living with a bunch of starving lions, or killing a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass, or commanding the entire universe to stand still…this one would actually be really cool, but it’s not about being cool).
It’s alright and nice to read about miracles and the supernatural and see others touching and healing the sick, calling forth the cripple to walk etc. But if push came to shove, honestly, would you trust yourself to be used by God in the same vein? With all your knowledge of human biology and chemistry and physics? Indeed, “It is not by strength, nor by might…”, you know this, but with your profound knowledge of hydrodynamics and the physics of molecular bonds, would you sincerely entertain the possibility that you would walk on water?
I knew there was a deeper level of faith (belief) beyond just knowledge and visible results, and had been praying about that for a long time. I seemed to be stuck on a particularly wide plateau. It was like my mind was trying really hard to compensate against seeming disappointment. From observation, this situation might be a bit more common among the generation ‘born into Christianity’, so to speak, coupled with the explosion of knowledge and information.
But I had a strange dream some time ago, that started a shift in the status quo. It brought to mind the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refusing to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue (Daniel 3). They told the King that the God they served was ‘able to deliver them'(*), and ‘will deliver them'(**) from the fire and the king’s hand. But then they add something else, that even if their God does not deliver them from the fire or the hand of the king, they still would not worship the king’s god or golden image (***). I have wondered, many times, why the trio deemed it necessary to add (***), because my prior understanding of faith (belief) was basically (*) “He ‘can’ deliver.”, and (**) “He ‘will’ deliver”. So I wondered if they were just making allowance for the rare eventuality of being ‘disappointed’…that is, if perchance God had other plans that did not include saving them.
But after my strange dream, I realised that what they did was actually the opposite. They were demonstrating a far deeper level of faith (belief, loyalty). They were basically saying that, “We ‘know’ He ‘can’ (*); We ‘believe’ He ‘will’ (**); and this ‘belief’ we have is at a level where inexplicably, ‘nothing in existence’ can change or affect it (***). The fear of apparent disappointment is a very real but subtle crippler of faith. What Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego demonstrate is faith that cannot be crippled.
You believe because you have read; you believe because you have been taught by great teachers; you believe because you have seen; you believe because you have experienced something; but would you still believe if you could not experience anymore, or your ‘very reasonable’, ‘entirely doable’ expectations were not met? Can you know He can, believe He will, and still say even if He does not,…?
It is my prayer that anyone still wandering on the plateau would hold on, and persevere towards that deeper level. You will not be disappointed.