Originally published Wednesday, 09 July 2014.
If you're anything like me, your faith is not static. You may have times of great faith––faith so strong you're absolutely convinced your unwavering trust in Jesus will quite literally move mountains. But oftentimes, that very faith seems to diminish over time. It goes out from you, like the air of an untied balloon when let go.
Seasons of great faith are simply amazing, and I always think I ought to stay there. I seem to measure my level of Christian-success by how audacious my faith is, but I'm starting to think I have it all wrong. Downswings of our faith can be frustrating, alarming even, but I'm not entirely convinced these challenging seasons are a bad thing.
I think we're all bound to experience moments of failed faith. Times when we seem to be holding on by a thread. When we feel weak and discouraged by our lack of faith. But ultimately, every challenge, every trial we encounter is intended to bless our socks off––even those that seem most ominous.
A life of faith is a battle. But that battle is not bad. It's purpose is to birth God's blessing and will in our lives. It strengthens and grows us.
Toward the end of his life, Paul wrote, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" ( 2 Timothy 4:7). And that's what it's all about––fighting to keep the faith. Amidst all the trials and temptations this life brings, we are to endure. We are to hold fast to the Lord, refusing to let go, to the end.
I was reading a book about Billy Graham recently. It's a fascinating narrative portraying the early years of Mr. Graham's life and ministry. Now, this is something you may already know, but Mr. Graham's faith was challenged greatly at one point. He struggled to keep the faith and fought the greatest spiritual battle of his life after his conversion, after he had given his life to Christ, after he began pursuing his call to ministry, but right before his big breakthrough at the Los Angeles Crusades, the event that launched him to national prominence. And I don't believe that was any sort of coincidence (in fact, I don't believe in coincidence at all).
Our greatest struggles often seem to come right before our greatest breakthroughs. Satan's most lethal darts come when we're perceived to be a significant threat. He has seen faithful saints pledge their hearts and lay down their lives for Jesus time and time again throughout the ages. He seems to know when we're being prepared to be used mightily for the Kingdom. And this is precisely when the battle is waged. When our faith is attacked. When we're tempted into complacency.
And I must admit––I've been there. I'm kind of there right now, in fact. I've been feeling a bit stagnant lately. Stuck, if you will. I think I've allowed the busyness of life to get in the way of my relationship with Jesus. But what's so amazing about our God is that He always provides a way back. All I keep hearing from Jesus is keep the faith. His words resound in my heart. "Refuse to let go of me until I bless you," He says. "Persevere in prayer and faith. My word will not return void. I have brought you out of Egypt to bring you in to the promised land." And I'm pretty sure I'm just stubborn enough to hold on. To fight for faith. I am German-Irish, after all.
I once heard a pastor call it sanctified stubbornness. I like that. Everyone of us must stubbornly fight the good fight of faith. Paul, who seems a bit stubborn to me, once wrote, "But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13, emphasis mine).
So, let's press in and press on. Let's fight the greatest fight of our lives. And for goodness sake, let's hold on to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, refusing to let go until we're blessed. Remember, His Word does not return void. His promises are true. We were not brought out of our Egypt for naught, but to be brought in to our promised land.