Too often I see people’s faith crumble when stress, difficulty, tragedy, or even simple disappointments arise. It’s one thing to wrestle in a circumstance in the presence of God. It’s quite another to accuse God of wrong doing. When we look at Job’s life, in all he said, he never sinned — he never accused God of wrong doing based on his own self-centered standard. His repentance was turning from his belief that God somehow owed him an explanation. How we respond in difficult times says a lot about where we stand in our relationship with God. Will we rise above it all, or let it weigh us down?
Being lifted above our circumstances means that we are given a new perspective in regard to the events of our lives. We see, receive, process, and respond to information, events, and input differently—from the mind of the Spirit rather than from the sinful nature. It means that we’re able to see behind the curtain of the temporal and into the eternal, and we regard our light and momentary trials as tools that are serving a greater purpose—an eternal glory that far outweighs it all (see 2 Corinthians 4:13-18).
Because of this, we want to press in to God and listen for his conviction so that we can continue to grow and be transformed—so we can continue to become more and more like Jesus. To be pushed around by circumstance and “settle” in our faith is to slander the Gospel.
Jesus taught, “So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31-33). The fact that these questions come up at least implies that there is at least a perceived need and Jesus speaks to our perception. Yet, in spite of this, we distrust or mistrust God and settle for things without seeking the kingdom. It’s like we believe that we can create a mixture of faith and flesh that will balance out favorably for us. This is not so.
Settling is a sin. A Sin? Yes. A sin. Can’t we just say that when we settle for “enough faith” that we’re just missing out? No. Settling is outright rebellion against God. To settle for “enough transformation” over total transformation is to refuse the work of God and to find ways to conform to the pattern of the world. It’s the sin of Adam that distrusted God, accused his heart, and sought to provide for himself in his perceived lack.
In the parable of the talents, one servant was given ten talents, another five talents, and another was given one. The first two servants lived out their calling and brought a good return to their master. The last guy hid his talent in the dirt and accused his master of setting him up to fail.
Oswald Chambers addresses this very parable when he says, “We must not measure our spiritual capacity by education or by intellect; our capacity in spiritual things is measured by the promises of God. If we get less that God wants us to have, before long we will slander him as the servant slandered his master: ‘You expect more than you give me power to do; You demand too much of me, I cannot stand true to you where I am placed’ … The servant justified himself in everything he did and condemned his lord on every point – ‘Your demand is out of all proportion to what you give.’ Have we been slandering God by daring to worry when he has said: ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you?’”
We need to be lifted above our own doubt and weakness. We need to rise above the smallness of our lives, expectations, and understanding. We need to find ourselves in the presence of God who is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20), and trust him completely by virtue of his displays of mercy and amazing grace.
God has allotted to each of us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). We need to live in that faith. As we take steps of faith (belief and trust) God will grow that faith as he leads us further up and further in. Our part is to surrender all the clutter of our lives; clutter that comes in the form of ideas, beliefs, habits, little pet sins, and other things that are contrary, or hostile, to God.
“A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up and every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” — Isaiah 40:3-5
We need to clear a way for God to work. Not just clear a little path for him to tip toe through, but clear a highway, subjecting everything to his judgment—no sacred cows. Being lifted above also means a new value system, where, like the apostle Paul, we declare that everything of this life is “refuse compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord” (Philippians 3:7-9). As we clear that way, more and more God’s great glory will be revealed to us, and through us for the world to see.