Dangerous Faith

I have a confession to make to all of you….are you ready?  I am not at all adventuresome.  There.  I’ve said it.  Whew, it feels so good to get that off my chest!  You should know that I will never jump out of an airplane (I hate heights), go bungie jumping, or even ride on an amusement park ride.  I won’t go up in a hot air balloon or go kayaking (I know I’d get wedged in there and somehow drown).  I don’t even like to go on our friend’s gorgeous boat (I have an aversion to puking in front of an audience).  I don’t like doing anything that could possibly get me injured, sprained, scared, or in trouble.  As I’ve gotten older, I have come to cherish all my body parts and would prefer they stay in working order and not get put out of joint through a fall because I’ve attempted something fool-hardy.  I drive the speed limit.  I follow the up and down arrows in empty parking lots.  I go through the maze of ropes at the airport ticket counter even if no one is in line.  I obey the rules and I keep safe.  Some would call my life boring, but it suits me just fine.

I really don’t like doing anything dangerous in any area of my life, but one – the area of my faith.  I WANT to have dangerous faith.  In the area of my faith I will NOT settle for mediocrity, apathy or complacency! I will not do just enough to get by or choose to believe I have “arrived.”  I want to live boldly, passionately, totally sold out for Christ!  I want to have a faith that enables me to go where no one has gone before (that last line is for all you fellow Star Trek fans)!  I want a faith that doesn’t think about me and my needs first, but puts the needs of others ahead of mine.   I want a faith that is so totally submitted to God’s will, so trusting in God’s plan, so reliant on God’s power that no matter what comes my way I will be able to give God the glory and praise.  I want a faith that shines through me so powerfully that those who don’t know Jesus are drawn like moths to a flame.  I want a faith that believes the impossible, that is content with any circumstance, that is able to rest in God in the midst of uncertainty and difficult circumstances.  I want a faith that is not afraid to stand up to injustice and fight for righteousness to be restored.  I want a faith that brings me to my knees in humility and gratitude when I consider what my Lord has done for me.  I want a faith that focuses on God’s faithfulness in the past, celebrates His grace in the present, and trusts Him with the future.  I want a dangerous faith!

In John 12:21 we read about some Greeks who wanted a dangerous faith.  They came to Philip and asked, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”  That request resonates with my spirit.  That is indeed what I want.  I want to see Jesus, experience Jesus, proclaim Jesus, help others find Jesus, worship Jesus.  I want more of Jesus!!  Faith is the means by which I am able to draw closer to Him and know Him better.  My heart also echoes Paul’s heart-felt plea in Philippians 3:10, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”  It takes dangerous faith to make that statement.

With that kind of faith, we can make a difference in the world.  The evil one doesn’t have a chance against Christians who have a dangerous faith like that.  How about you?  You probably are far more adventuresome than I am, but are you ready for dangerous faith?  I invite you to join me in taking up the shield of faith and working to develop a dangerous faith that brings us closer to God, blesses other people and brings God glory!  Let these words of scripture resound in your heart, mind and spirit, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

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Remembering Buster

Every morning before I get out of bed, I consciously submit myself to God’s will for my life that day.  Yesterday was one of those days when God’s will was not what I was expecting.  He gave me another opportunity to experience His grace and mercy in difficult times.  I was volunteering at Raybrook Retirement Home when a neighbor stopped by.  With tears in her eyes, she told me that my cat Buster had been hit by a car and was dead.  I felt overwhelmed with shock and disbelief.  I had just left him an hour earlier happy, healthy, and enjoying the life of a spoiled cat.

For those of you who did not have the privilege of meeting Buster, he was a most unusual cat.  He was so loving and friendly – almost like a dog.  The whole neighborhood loved him.  In fact, when we buried him yesterday, neighbors came over to pay their last respects.  Afterwards I had them in for tea and we talked about all the ways Buster blessed our lives.  As we talked, I realized that goofy little cat had taught us a lot about life.  So in Buster’s memory, I would like to share with you some important life-lessons I learned from my beloved pet.

Buster approached life as if everyone he met was his friend.  He made friends with our neighbor’s dog and would explore the yard with him, reveling in new smells and chasing unfortunate little critters together.  He made friends with all the neighbors.  Some of them have suggested that they feel Buster was like their own cat and maybe they should help pay the vet bills (unfortunately, they were not serious about the last part).  I even received a note thanking me for hosting the neighborhood cat.  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we, like Buster, assumed that everyone we met was our friend?  What would happen if we stopped wearing masks or building walls to protect ourselves from others, but reached out to all with trust and authentic friendship?  I think I would like to live in that world.

Along with being friendly and open with everyone, Buster was also willing to be vulnerable enough to ask people for what he wanted which was either love and attention or food.  Since he assumed that everyone would like him, he was equally sure that everyone would find great delight in petting him or rubbing his tummy.  He would gently rub against your leg and then flop over with all four feet in the air to give you full exposure to his tummy so you would not be hindered in your efforts to rub it.  I wonder how much we miss receiving the love we long for all because we are not willing to be vulnerable enough to ask.  It is so difficult for most of us to expose areas of our life where we feel unprotected or weak.  In trying to keep safe, we miss opportunities for people to show us affection and love ….and give us a good “tummy rub.”

Another thing I loved about Buster was that he just plain expected the best in everyone and everything.  He was definitely a “glass half-full” kind of cat and not only that, the glass was half-full of something he really wanted to drink.  He embraced each day with gusto.  He played with gusto, hunted little critters with gusto, ate with gusto, got into trouble with gusto.  He even slept with gusto.  So much about our life is tied up with our attitude.  We usually get what we expect or look for.  I want to be like Buster.  I want to set the bar high, expect the best, celebrate each little part of my day, and through it all to give God the praise.

As much as Buster lived with enthusiasm, he also knew how to slow down and enjoy the simple things of life….like a patch of sunlight perfect for napping, a soft pile of pillows perfect for napping, a dark-colored wing-back chair perfect for shedding hair and napping.  Are you seeing a pattern here?  We tend to get so busy doing, we don’t know how to stop and just relax.  Even more importantly, we don’t know how to stop and listen to God.  Being a cat, listening to God was not something Buster did, but we are God’s children, and we need to take the time to find a comfortable place to relax in God’s presence and enjoy the blessing of being His child.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I shall miss that sweet cat.  As I said before, he was truly exceptional and I am so grateful I got to have him in my life for five years.  I like to think that he is in heaven with David right now and they are enjoying each other. I am also grateful that I still have Isabelle to cuddle, love and take care of.  Our little family is now down to us two girls, but we are surrounded by our extended family and friends who enfold us in love and walk with us during times of loss and grief.  I praise God for each of you and ask Him to “strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  (Ephesians 3:16b-19)