I’ve struggled with how to respond when someone refers to my faith as inspirational.
I see the struggles and failures and my emotions cloud the view of any resulting good. Often, I don’t even want to see anything good. Recognizing good feels as if it justifies the deaths of my daughters and Gracen’s disease and honestly, that’s just offensive to my humanity. I’m doing well to put one foot in front of the other. I don’t see anything inspirational in my faith walk.
Believe me, anything worthy of praise is not my doing—at all.
And that’s not false modesty or veiled pride.
It’s ugly in here!
Like the Apostle Paul, I do the things I know I shouldn’t and don’t do the things I know I should. I guess we all do . . . and I guess that’s why the Bible tells us that God’s strength is perfected in our weakness.
The Holy Spirit is somehow displayed through our brokenness; not the perfectionism we strive for.
The girls’s deaths and Gracen’s disease have done one thing for me; they’ve confirmed my faith.
I did not realize how much faith in Jesus Christ had come to define my life.
When we feel as if God has failed us or calls something we disagree with sinful or simply behaves in ways we cannot understand and do not want to accept, we can experience what’s known as a crisis of faith. We must decide what we really believe about God. We have to decide to continue to follow Him or walk away from Jesus.
In John chapter 6 Jesus proclaims Himself to be the Bread of Life which caused many of His followers to abandon Him. In verse 67b Jesus asked His twelve disciples:
“. . . “Do you want to leave too?””
And in verses 68-69:
“Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.””
Where else can I go?
There is nowhere.
There is none other.
Without Christ; I’d still be living with the same circumstances but I’d be completely without hope.
No hope for reunion.
No hope for redemption.
No hope for anything beyond this life.
And if I live well (as some define living well)—a positive outlook—a life of happiness and joy—it’s not enough to offset the tragedies that I, and countless others endure, in the absence of the hope that lies within.
Living well, as defined by others, is not enough.
We always find ourselves empty and longing without the Lord.
If living well were enough the rich and famous would not find themselves lonely, depressed and wanting more . . .
needing relationship. . .
needing relationships beyond that of a spouse, family, and adoring fans.
Money can’t buy love and love can’t buy happiness.
Ask anyone who has either—or both.
That’s why the rich young ruler came to Jesus: He just didn’t understand, or really, simply refused to accept, that he needed Jesus Himself instead of some quick and easy solution for the emptiness within. And we’re all looking for quick and easy solutions to life’s problems and longings.
But . . .
Even when we have Jesus we are left longing.
I can almost hear the gasps—the harshly in-drawn breaths—following the reading of that last statement.
But it’s true.
Even with Jesus we long for more.
We long for the fulfillment of His promises—for completion—to be made like Him.
We long for restoration and redemption—to be all we were created to be.
We long to live in harmony and unity in a world of pure motivations and unconditional love.
We long for a life free of suffering, sorrow, tears, fears, problems and parting.
We long for reunion.
We long for Heaven!
We’re just not very good at distilling our desires down to the underlying longings and we chase our tails looking for fulfillment to desires we are unable to define. But Jesus is our only hope for those things—for fulfillment.
If it’s inspirational to live—truly live with the understanding that Jesus is our only hope—then I am indeed an inspiration.
Life has destroyed the illusion that anything else can satisfy.
And you know what? I’m not living in a state of perpetual satisfaction here; just because Jesus satisfies.
Ain’t gonna happen this side of heaven.
It’s just not.
I know you’ve encountered people who flippantly tell you that Jesus is the answer for every problem, but you know—you recognize it when someone genuinely believes that to be true—when they’ve found it to be true.
When all the artifice has been stripped away; when all the individual striving has ceased—you know it.
You know—something inside has settled and is at rest.
You know—they have stopped living in expectation of worldly fulfillment and have exchanged that unachievable expectation for living in heavenly anticipation.
It’s not always pretty.
Sometimes deep wounding has revealed the truth that Jesus is our only hope.
And pain is hard to hide.
So sometimes a faith-filled individual looks hollowed out and glassy eyed—because they have reached the end of themselves—given all they had to give—and come up short.
They’ve come up short!
They’ve come up short because they were never intended to do it all. . . be enough all by themselves.
And humility is the result.
Humility is humbling.
It’s the acknowledgement inadequacy.
And then there are those—maybe you know one—a man, woman or child that exudes peace regardless of the circumstances they face.
I don’t know what causes that; if it’s a personality trait or a reflection of spiritual maturity beyond my depth, or maybe a combination of the two; but it’s definitely the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
They . . . those rare, rare, individuals, clearly are at peace with whatever comes their way.
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In the face of great sorrow—peace.
In the face of perilous situations—peace.
In the face of death and destruction—utter and complete peace.
It’s not a lack of energy, resignation or defeat—it’s peace.
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The absence of personal investment in a preferred outcome.
Hope-infused surrender not hopeless or helpless surrender.
Surely it’s a gift of the Holy Spirit; but I fear the only way to unwrap that gift is cooperating with the Holy Spirit during the shared sufferings of Christ.
Suffering changes people and perspectives.
Suffering is a refining fire.
It is painful . . .
and it reveals hidden depths of beauty . . .
Suffering burns away the humanity of man and reveals the holiness of God within.
And therein lies the beauty of brokenness.
The glue—faith—holds those broken pieces together.
And from the inside looking out, all that’s seen is the cracked facade . . .
But from the outside looking in . . .
the Holy light of God’s perfected strength shines through that cracked and crumbling facade and the only word to describe the view is . . . Inspirational.
When the Bible tells us to . . .
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:16 (KJV)
it is preceded by the statement . . .
“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” ~ Matthew 5:15 (KJV)
Here’s the thing . . .
God’s light shines through your brokenness regardless of whether or not you hide your light under a bushel; just as this picture demonstrates.
Unbelievers can’t help but see the light of God within a believer. The failure to proclaim the source of that light is the equivalent of hiding your light under a bushel. The light under the bushel still shines forth and others see it, and fellow believers recognize it for what it is; but to the lost . . .to the lost . . .
it’s nothing more than an elusive quality they can’t define.
A light under a bushel gives light to others within a house, but not to all that are in the house. Proclaiming the source of the light—placing it on a candlestick so to speak, allows everyone—saved or lost—to choose to draw near to or reject the light of salvation.
So if others tell you your response to adversity is inspiring (the equivalent of seeing your good works)—proclaim your faith—(let your light shine) so that your Father in heaven will receive the credit He is due and be glorified.
I’m not inspirational—the God within me is.
I’m the broken facade.
He’s the light within.
And His inspirational light shines through your brokenness too.