“Faith unchecked becomes entitlement…” ~Bill Johnson (Faith Vs Entitlement)
This concept has been rocking my world lately.
I’ve lived in the knowledge of God my whole life. And somewhere between the first moment when that tiny seed of faith in me was activated; that first thrill of discovering God is real, and now… I have become more entitled than faith-filled.
My list of “credentials” as a believer is long and solid. I know the rules, the verses, the songs… I know the dance. I was never a partier, never rebelled from God or “the faith,” graduated high school and went straight into missionary work. I saved sex for marriage, and kept myself pure… I’ve submitted to leadership, been through counseling, I’ve walked through deliverance, sat through Sozo sessions, received prayers for healing- and always believed.
Through the pain of betrayals, rejection, verbal and emotional abuse, witnessing horrifying violence, and living through circumstances that should have killed me, loosing 3 babies, a close friend and a family member… I have turned to my list of “credentials” for comfort – those verses, hidden in my heart from toddlerhood through adulthood, the songs, the prophecies, sermons and remembering God’s miraculous hand throughout.
I turned to my list of “credentials”…
I’ve believed that turning to God has meant, doing all the right things – obedience, we called it. Acts of faith… we said. And God, in His kindness, has met me there. Let me encounter Him face to face, breathed new life into my being, multiple times over.
But then… it stopped working.
There have been no verses that could touch the darkness edging in. There has been no songs that ease the chill of frozen emotions. My garments of praise are tatters of shattered belief, ripped to shreds by disappointments. All of the sudden my life of obedient surrender and faithful belief was an empty meaningless sham.
Somewhere, somehow, faith became all about what I did with it, how I managed my mind, my ability to take every thought captive, my willingness to get up and dance and shout through the tears and depression… somewhere it had become all about what I have done, and therefore what God was supposed to do in return.
All around me people keep telling me that I’ve got to just believe, praise, remember scripture, shout it from the rooftops if need be… do whatever you have to do until it breaks… until breakthrough happens…
Yet, I cannot help but think – what if it isn’t up to me? What if it never has been?
What if I have taken everything I’ve learned from God, about God – each encounter – and made it about me… If I’ve somehow swallowed a subtle lie that my faith and faithfulness somehow entitled me to such knowledge and experience of Him?
If that is the case, then I think I have completely missed the whole point. And I am truly lost.
What if I can be completely incapable of faith… what if I don’t believe anymore… if I cannot bring myself to sing or utter another useless Bible verse… what if I don’t want another person to lay hand on me and pray… If God is God, then I need Him to be God.
“Oh Eternal One, You have explored me heart and know exactly who I am… You shaped me, inside and out. You knit me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath… You see all things, nothing about me was hidden from you…”
And You chose to breath life not only into my lungs but into my faith – that faith which you planted in me, because of Your incredible mercy. It’s only because of Your mercy, only through Your grace that I ever believed in the first place… Even the obedience, the digging in and will to praise – that was only through Your incredible grace; that power that is beyond my ability. I bring only broken flesh to this relationship. You bring faith, You activate faith, You enable faith. And when I have leaned more heavily on faith than I have recognized Who that faith comes from, and it fails, I will wait. I will fall until You catch me.