This is kind of long, but well worth the read. Sometimes other people say things WAY better than I ever could, and that is the case here. The following is a Facebook post from Frank Peretti. Enjoy!
FAITH THROUGH THE MIDDLE, PART TWO
by Frank Peretti
So what is Faith?
As I said in my last post, Faith, among other things, is a deep, abiding trust in God that grows with time and experience.
I remember sitting at lunch one Sunday with some friends and some Bible School students, and as we talked about life and how God works and got on the subject of faith and miracles, one pretty student said excitedly, “Oh, I want everything God has for me.”
Now, being an older guy with some miles on my frame, I couldn’t help thinking that her expectations were going to get some adjustment before long. Truth is, what God mostly has in store for us is not a miracle around every corner, as cool as that would be. What God mostly has in store for each of us is ...
Years and years of Real Life.
Life as God meant it is Real Life and you have to live it. Faith will grow as you Go Through the Middle, but an End Run isn’t normally in the plan.
Just ask Peter and James:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you." I Peter 4:12
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
And I’m sure, as Peter, James, and any Christian who’s been walking with the Lord for a good many years will confirm, the walk of Faith is not so much a series of miraculous explosions as it is a Long, Slow Burn.
Sure, “explosions” are nice. Some folks become “blessing hoppers,” hopping from church to church, event to event, showing up wherever there is something “happening” so they can get a quick charge, a mountaintop experience to keep them “on fire,” “walking in victory,” “on top.” But true Faith doesn’t come from the mountaintops; it comes from the valleys in between when you really need it.
Moses herding sheep in the wilderness.
Joseph sitting in prison.
David fleeing before Saul.
Paul arrested and then shipwrecked.
Jacob working for 14 years for his wife Rachel.
Abraham waiting for a son and just getting older and older.
And don’t forget Jesus Himself in the wilderness for forty days.
ALL of which, I’ll be quick to say, bore fruit and ended very nicely. Yep, there’s a glorious pay-off on the other side of it.
And of course there’s Paul the Apostle, an experienced master at hangin’ in there and Going Through the Middle:
“I have worked harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of how the churches are getting along.” II Corinthians 11:24-28.
And did I say there was a pay-off? Sure.
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11.
And in Paul’s case - in fact, in the case of every believer who has walked with God through good and bad times and learned to trust Him through experience, there’s a beautiful and reassuring result: Knowing God.
Paul, in prison and about to die, writes to Timothy:
“[God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Good News.]
And that is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I KNOW the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.” II Timothy 1:11-12.
Through years of trusting God on a deeper and deeper level, Paul came to KNOW God and entrust everything to Him, even at the point of death.
Now that’s Faith - the unshakable, rock-under-your-feet, always-there kind, and there’s no quick and easy, End Run way to get it.
So when I think of that dear young student saying, “I want everything God has for me,” I can’t help thinking, “Wow, I’m looking at myself forty years ago.” I think of how far she’ll journey, how many bumps she’s going to hit and crevasses she’s going to fall into AND how many victories she’s going to achieve if she just presses on, and I think ...
Godspeed, young lady!
Walk with God. Press on.
Some of it will be glorious, a lot of it will be tough.
Some things you will understand, and for some things there will simply be no answers.
But press on because you’ll make it. God will always carry you as a father carries his child, in all the ways that you go, until you arrive at every promise He has for you.
And every time you get there, you will KNOW Him a little better.
That's just the way He is.