Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Failure To Act = Faith Failure

Every now and then God “calls me out” on an area in my life that needs attention.  This past Sunday was one of those times.

My husband has arthritis in his sacroiliac joint.  Periodically it flares up, causing him a lot of pain.  It’s been bothering him lately and Sunday morning it was especially cranky.
At the beginning of the church service the pastor said they were going to pray for anyone who needed healing.  The prayer started and I found myself praying silently for relief for my husband.

I felt God telling me to reach out and place my right hand on his lower back while I prayed.  Immediately my brain went into, “What will people think” mode.  What would people think if they saw me putting my hand on his lower back?  For that matter what would he think? 
It’s not like I could do it subtly.  We were sitting down and he was to my left.  It would require shifting and re-arranging.  Certainly the people around us would notice the shuffling, even if they were being good little Christians  and sitting with eyes closed and heads bent in prayer instead of playing on phones and Ipods.

I argued with God, making up silent excuses not to reach out my hand.  Finally I made a feeble attempt; awkwardly reaching out my left hand and pretending to scratch his hip. 
Like THAT wasn’t weirder that simply asking him to lean forward and laying my hand on the small of his back!?!

I immediately knew it was an epic fail on my part. 

Could God relieve my husband’s pain without my hand on his back, of course He could.  That’s not the point!
Sometimes answer to prayer requires a simple act of obedient faith; a show of our trust in God.

I think of the story of Naaman in 2 Kings, chapter 5...

Naaman travels a great distance to see Elisha because he’s heard Elisha has the power of God and can heal his skin disease.  After a long, arduous journey Naaman arrives on Elisha’s doorstep, only to be told to go and wash in the muddy Jordan River seven times.

Naaman is disgusted!  He stomps off in fury.  He expected a great spectacle from the famous prophet. 

Fortunately Naaman’s servants are more astute than Naaman.  They confront Naaman, saying, “…if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it?  So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean?”

Naaman wisely follows the counsel of his servants, and in a spirit of humility goes and washes in the Jordan.  He is healed.

Naaman had a choice.  
  • He could risk public ridicule and faithfully follow Elisha’s instructions to receive healing, or
  • he could cling to his pride and lose out on the healing opportunity.
Here are the questions I’ve been pondering…
  • Did my failure to act cheat God out of an opportunity to show His glory?
  • Did my desire to appear “normal” and please people hinder God’s healing?
  • Did I cheat my husband out of a pain free afternoon because I didn't want to look awkward?
I’ve written a few posts about thoughts, believes, and stigmas that get in the way of living out my faith in the public eye.  See Firm In Faith and Self-Proclaimed "Jesus Freak" .
 I thought I was getting better and overcoming some of the social anxieties associated with what people think about the way I act, or speak.  Apparently I was wrong! 

God and I still have work to do in the arena of sharing and living out my faith through acts of obedience.

What about you?  What’s God “calling you out” on right now?  Is there an area in your life you need to confront?  Spend some quiet time with God and pray David’s prayer from Psalm 139…
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
And lead me along the path of everlasting life.” 
Psalm 139:23-24

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