Are you fearful? Do you worry? Do you have faith, but also sometimes doubt? Do you want to trust that you will be provided for ... but then hesitate and wonder, at the same time, that you might not be?
A lot of us are like that. We believe, or perhaps we want to believe, but unbelief is never really far away ... it lurks in the form of anxiety.
And although "anxious faith" is a long way from outright unbelief, it isn't outright faith either.
So this begs the question: Is faith a choice that we can make?
On one occasion, two blind men came to Jesus begging to be healed.
Jesus asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" ... They said, "Yes, Lord."
Jesus reached out and touched their eyes saying, "According to your faith, be it unto you."
The entire issue hung on one question, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?"
Jesus knew that he could do it ... so it was not a question of what He believed, but a question of what THEY believed.
What would have happened if they had not believed?
On another occasion, a man fell at Jesus' feet and cried ... "Lord, have mercy on my son. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him."
Jesus response was acrid, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?"
The disciples knew the rebuke was for them, and came to ask, "Why could not we cast the demon out?"
Jesus replied, "Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
Most of us are far less interested in moving mountains than we are in avoiding death, being shielded from disasters, dodging diseases, getting rid of pain, having food on the table during hard times, and so forth ... but what Jesus is saying here is that faith, even in the smallest degree, can accomplish great things.
(By the way, in Mark's account of the above illustration, Jesus told the man, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes." And the poor man replied: "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!")
I can't help wondering if one of the reasons we have so little faith is because maybe we are afraid to believe ...?
It is a little scary to think about how wonderful life could be if only our prayers were answered ... scary because, after all, our prayers might not be answered.
But ... so what!?
Why let the possibility that God might not answer keep us from believing that He will!?
God demands of us this: TRUST.
He wants us to believe what He says, and to trust Him to keep His word, and to do what He tells us to do.
Faith ... TRUST ... is a choice well within our grasp, and we cannot come to God without it.
"Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He will reward them that diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)
But how does faith come?
"So, then, faith comes by hearing; and hearing comes by the Word of God." (Romans 10:17)
Faith is built brick by brick ... by asking God to open our minds while studying His word ... our problem is that we spend more time being anxious (tearing it down) than in building it up.
In the belief system of many Christians there is an assumption that "whatever will be; will be" and that it doesn't make any difference what we do about it ... it is out of our hands ... for we are not in control.
But I wonder about this.
If faith, or lack of faith, were not in our control why would Jesus say what he did in His sermon on the mount?
"I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on."
Wouldn't it be irrelevant ... pointless, even ... for Jesus to tell us not to be anxious (i.e. to have faith instead) if it were something we had no control over to begin with?
Yet this entire part of the sermon is about anxiety, and Jesus' conclusion of the thought is, "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day."
Do you suppose that there might be something to this "power of positive thinking stuff" after all?
"Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice...Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Do we have a choice? Can we really control our thoughts?
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
It seems we really do have the capacity, the right, and even the responsibility to CHOOSE what we are going to believe ... along with what we are going to DECIDE to think about ... and those choices and those decisions have more to do with faith than we have ever imagined.
So study His Word ... and trust Him to keep His Word ... and do what He tells you to do.
THAT is faith ... so, how is yours?
With Love,Your Faithful Prepper
(where autonomy and faith collide)