I was contemplating calling Sunday's message "But I won't do that!" But I have burnt in my mind the Meatloaf music video for his song "I Would Do Anything For Love" and decided against it. In the video a skulking Meatloaf follows his "love" around, obviously obsessed with her (probably in as weird a way as it sounds). At the crescendo of the song though he has second thoughts about his love for this girl, and sings out, "but I WON'T do that!"
As I consider the implications of our "Please, God" series, I realize that I often see steps of faith as big, risk-filled jumps into God's arms and into a brighter future. A classic example in my mind would be quitting a well-paying job to work for the church. I'm jumping away from the financial security my old job gave me, and I'm jumping into the miraculous provision of God for me and my family. It sounds so noble, so... glamorous (if it works out in that kind of a way).
I would like to put forward that a more accurate picture of faith isn't as glamorous. In fact, steps of faith often deal with the deeper areas of our soul that God wants us to let go off, but we're really struggling to. So, in reference to my message on Sunday, we often see faith as moving THAT mountain (a bit removed from us, definitely still an obstacle, but not that close to home). But I've found that the reality is that faith often has to do with moving THIS mountain (so close to home it hurts to let it go).
Here's an example of mountain-moving faith in my life from the last year.
I've always had a competitive streak, and also known that I'm a high achiever. When we planted Lift Church I didn't know that I had allowed those 2 parts of me to be a part of my role as Lift's pastor. What this meant is that I allowed my identity to rest in how well Lift was doing IN COMPARISON to other churches. "I'm a good leader and definitely the pastor for Lift because we are growing faster than THAT church." "I'm anointed by God and I know that for sure because, I mean, look at the number of baptisms we're having!" I know. Terrible thoughts. But they were literally the kinds of thoughts I allowed myself to have. And God needed to deal with that in me. This is how it panned out. My competitiveness and comparisons were being pointed out to me, and in the midst of that I felt God ask me, "If Lift was never to grow in size, but continue to grow in impact, would you be happy with that?" God was pointing out that I had wrong priorities, and a wrong perspective on my leadership. My mountain-moving faith moment in this was that I had to allow my IDENTITY to be found in Christ alone, not in my efforts or achievements. This was alien to me. It was very difficult. I still struggle with this. It is NOT glamorous. I needed to make a jump from being reliant on myself (something I'm pretty good at), to becoming more reliant on God. Faith is shifting my internal world more than my external world in this particular case.
I've also got stories of taking faith leaps that has resulted in tangible results as well. But they get so much airtime already. It's these internal struggles that also require faith. Sometimes the mountain that needs to be moved is in me. And this struggle is worth having as James 1:2-4 states,
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
My prayer is that you continue to courageously face up to trials and challenges with faith; that you'll see that mountain-moving faith takes place in us and through us, but often it starts in us. Let's not have a "but I won't do that attitude" when it comes to the more difficult internal struggle we face.