He Leadeth Me: Lessons in Belief and Obedience
- Thursday, September 03, 2009
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (I Corinthians 13:11-12)
The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God. (See Hebrews 11:6.) Recently I found myself asking, When did I first begin to learn about faith? What is faith? Today do I really know any more about faith than I did fifty years ago? Am I pleasing God with my faith?
With those questions in mind, I thought back to my childhood days, and the Lord immediately brought to mind two stepping-stones along my path. When those incidents occurred, I hardly identified them as such. However, today I clearly see them as stepping-stones . . . no, milestones.
Milestones are markers. They are evidence that work has been accomplished; progress has been made. In our spiritual journeys, milestones indicate that additional work—the Holy Spirit's work—has been accomplished in our lives. Often there is a decision to be made at a milestone. As you and I walk out this journey of faith as children of God, each of us must make a decision at each milestone: will I continue, or will I stop? The journey never ends. We must continue to walk, and we must walk by faith. (See II Corinthians 5:7.) In doing so, we will grow in faith and we will please God.
My Journey of Faith
On my journey of faith, I keep "passing" two milestones: belief and obedience. I used to think I could learn about faith in six easy steps—sort of—but I'm discovering that it's not a matter of six easy check-it-off-the-list steps. Rather, for me, it is a matter of taking the same two steps over and over again, moving forward slowly. Each time, the size of my step increases, although sometimes the gain is hardly discernible. Still, by God's grace, one day at a time—one step at a time—I am moving forward.
Belief and obedience go hand in hand. Sometimes belief precedes obedience, and sometimes obedience precedes belief. However, with each step of either obedience or belief, God is gently, steadily, and lovingly guiding me to a deeper and deeper understanding of faith.
I was about 8 years old the first time I remember noticing that milestone of obedience. For several years I had the privilege of attending an international school in Kumasi, Ghana. I loved everything about Ridge School—my teachers, the schoolwork (yes, I'm being truthful!), the Star Chart, the music class, the math drills, and the students . . . well, most of the students. Somewhere along the way one of those students, a little blonde, blue-eyed German girl named Fray, became my enemy.
Why is it so easy to make an enemy and yet forget how the conflict began? Something must have happened to make Fray and me angry with each other. I don't remember the details, but I do remember the consequences: Fray and I became enemies. As a result of our conflict, we both recruited "teams" to make each other miserable at recess. Fray had a team of three or four girls on her side, and I had a team of three or four girls on my side. Each day at recess, we'd pretend we were hiding and plotting in our "enemy camps," and then we would chase each other. It was all juvenile and silly, but we took it very seriously. Eight-year-old girls tend to be quite serious about such things you know. (We learn quickly, don't we?)
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