The toughest test of faith?

8 09 2007

>In this blog, I have focused on deepening faith by placing all trust in God. If you are like me, there are areas where it is relatively easy to let go of the wheel and let God take over. And then there are areas where flesh takes hold and makes it more difficult to let go and let God. Perhaps the toughest area for me involves those I love. I have a terrible tendency to worry about loved ones and take a tack that involves me trying to labor. I do pray for God’s will in these situations, but I find myself doing more than praying.

This is a particular issue with my kids. I deeply want only the best for them — the best experiences, good health, self confidence, success in school, athletics and life generally. And, most importantly, I want them to grow to love the Lord, and soon — without reservation. Too often, worry about my kids creeps in and I find myself working before praying – or simply focusing more on my role rather than giving my concerns up to God. It is all too easy to justify my fleshly approach because, after all, I am their dad. And this translates to any situation where my emotion drags me away from faith to flesh. It could be worry or anxiety, control, depression, secular fixes… Whatever, it is flesh and not faith. In these situations, I have to let go of the wheel, get out of the driver’s seat and trust fully in God.

But what does this really look like? It does not mean that you stop acting completely. That you stop teaching your kids or that you do not seek counseling or engage with someone who is lost. What it means is that you go to God first — and listen. That you do not stress over the matter. After all, a full faith in the Lord does not leave room for stress, anxiety or worry. Paul tells us in Phillipians: Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6, HCSB)

I recently came across an interview with Tullian Tchividjian, pastor and Christian author – and also Billy and Ruth Graham’s grandson (a link to the full interview is at the upper right of this page). Tullian is a committed man of God, but this wasn’t always the case. He went through a period of his life in which he wandered away from God and into drugs, alcohol and promiscuity. It was this question and answer that really hit home…

I’m curious—your grandfather, Billy Graham, is one of the most famous evangelists in history. And your uncle, Franklin, is not only a well-known Christian leader, but also went through a season of deep rebellion? Do you recall anything in particular that they said to you during your time away from the Lord?

Interestingly, because my grandparents knew that my parents had laid such a solid foundation, teaching me the Gospel from the time I was born, they never preached to me during my wilderness wanderings; they never sat me down and gave me a lecture. They always told me they were praying for me, that they believed God had his hand on me, and that if I ever needed anything, not to hesitate to let them know. Their unconditional love for me during that time was stunning. In fact, from a human perspective, one of the tools God used to bring me to himself was the attractiveness of my grandparents (and parents) unconditional love. Because of my upbringing, I had always known the content of the Gospel but it was the “preaching of the Gospel without words” through my parents and grandparents which helped me to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Can you imagine being in this situation (maybe you have been, or currently are, in this situation)? Seeing someone you love walking away from God and into fleshly trouble. Does anyone doubt how the enemy will work to try to derail a family that has committed itself to following God? I can think of a lot of things that I might do from a worldly perspective. Maybe working overtime to show the loved one the error of his ways, trying to convince. Maybe tough love. Maybe just worrying and feeling unease at my core. But what the Grahams did was pray and show unconditional love. Don’t be fooled, I don’t think they took this tack because they lacked concern or because they did not want to take the reins and muscle Tullian back to the narrow path. I think their approach shows a strong faith. They knew that Tullian was God’s son first. They prayed. They trusted that God was working in this situation. And, guess what, He was. Through their prayers and unconditional love, God impacted Tullian in a way that all of the muscle in the world could not have.

My takeaway from this is that in every life situation, we have a choice. We can trust in God or we can trust in the world (whether ourselves or some worldly approach). We can worry or we can give our concerns over to an all-powerful God. In Philippians, Paul follows the verse quoted above by letting us know that when we turn our concerns over to God, He gives us a sense of peace that does not make earthly sense. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7, NLT)

Do you have a worry with a loved one (or anything else for that matter)? Go to God, give it to God — and know that His peace will wash over you. Still stressed? Still sitting in the driver’s seat? Stop. Go to God right now. He wants you to communicate with Him without ceasing. The Psalms are full of great prayers that echo this fleshly issue. Take a look at Psalm 40 for a start — meditate on God’s word and then use it as a you speak to God about your own concerns.