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Inspirational Faith? 

28 Nov

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!

scroll816Like 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.

longingformoreWe 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.

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.

Nope.

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.

Wounds hurt.

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.

img_1744

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

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.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

 Peace. 

The absence of personal investment in a preferred outcome. 

Peace.

Hope-infused surrender not hopeless or helpless surrender. 

Peace.

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 . . . 

and strength.

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 . . . 

broken-vessell

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 . . .

ligth-under-basket1-150x150God’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.

 

 
16 Comments

Posted by on November 28, 2016 in Faith

 

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16 responses to “Inspirational Faith? 

  1. Nancy

    November 29, 2016 at 12:05 am

    A lot to think about. When others have told me they can see my faith, that I am a blessing?!?!?, all I feel is pain. Could the pain be not only missing my son but the increased longing to be back Home, in Heaven, with God?

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Janet Boxx

      November 29, 2016 at 12:31 am

      Maybe. I know I long for Heaven more than earth. David and Gracen help anchor me here. I never want to leave them uncared for . . . but the rapture . . . I’m watching the signs of the times . . . I’m longing for my forever home!

      Liked by 2 people

       
  2. mandilouise222

    November 29, 2016 at 6:29 am

    That is it. That is what I’ve wanted to put into words for you but never could. Every time you were upset when someone would say “inspiration “. Yes Jesus is the answer but there is so much underneath that. Refining is not pretty. Thank you for your writing. It’s not only therapy for you but me as well.

    Mandi

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Janet Boxx

      November 29, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Mandi, thank you for your faithful friendship – for listening, encouraging me, and supporting me as I wrestle with life and faith and scream my way through the Refiner’s fire! I’m glad to hear that what I write blesses you in some way – maybe gives voice to something important you need others to understand about you. Thanks for being a burden bearer!

      Like

       
  3. Lisa trueblood

    November 29, 2016 at 6:34 am

    I had such a hard hard day yesterday. Everything touched my broken self.. I cried all day. I so needed to read these words I encouragement.

    Like

     
    • Janet Boxx

      November 29, 2016 at 10:22 am

      Lisa,

      I hate that you had such a difficult day yesterday. I’m sure it is of little comfort to know that that hard hard day reflects the depth of love you have for your daughter. Our tears can never fill the void left by their absence. And, it’s a special kind of difficult, when your loss is the result of the conscious and illegal decisions made by others. Law abiding citizens are left hoping and fighting for justice that is a hollow victory at best when those responsible are brought to justice and another kick in the teeth when plea bargains or ineffective and hardened prosecutors and judges fail to uphold their sworn duties. It feels as if you just get more broken through the process. What is highly personal to us is routine to them. You’re situation is different than mine, but we encounter so many of the same emotions, the same frustrations and fears, the same questions and struggles with our beliefs and what we think we know about God and how He works in the lives of His children. You have my deepest sympathies!

      I think one of the most important things we will experience when we reach our heavenly home will be the moment when God hands us the bottle that holds all our tears. We will know with absolute certainty that our hurts and sorrows were not treated with callous disregard. We will see a visible manifestation of God’s love and concern for our heartaches and will know that He drew close enough to collect our tears – that we were never alone – that He didn’t turn from us in our despair but instead bore witness to it as only those who love us most do. You are not alone on those hard, hard days! Just as you can feel alone in a crowded room you can feel alone in God’s presence too. But He never leaves us and the Bible tells us that He actually draws near to the broken-hearted. He won’t take you anywhere He isn’t willing to go with you! I guess the bad days are really and truly God days. Days He’s closest. Days He’s most loving. And it’s generally only in hindsight we actually recognize that. One day you and I will hold in our hands (if we are strong enough!) our tear-filled bottles and we will know just how deeply loved we are because those who love us walk in when things are hardest. Grief has a way of separating the wheat from the chaff. So like Paul, let’s glory in our weaknesses knowing that God’s love is made complete in us when we are most weak. And let’s choose to look at hard days as God draws near days. Let’s choose to see our brokenness as a means for others to see His wholeness. And let’s allow our faith to hold all those broken pieces together until we are made like Him and our faith has become sight and our glorified bodies shine with pure unconditional love and joy. Let’s endure for the joy set before us like Christ did on the cross. (And let’s acknowledge that endurance is persevering or putting up with things we don’t enjoy and even hate for the prize that awaits. Endurance is a far cry from enjoyment! No one enjoys enduring – we just suck it up and get on with it).

      Like

       
  4. Melanie

    November 29, 2016 at 6:37 am

    Janet, you always do such a great job of laying out the path for others to follow as you share your heart. Christ’s light DOES shine through you-I know it’s a vulnerable choice to let Him do that. Like you, my faith has stood firm. And that is God’s glory and His work in me. Because, left to my own feeble strength I would have let go and sunk under the waves. Ernest Hemingway is quoted as saying, “We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.” But I would say, we are all broken, that’s how His Light gets out. I can’t wait until our pain is redeemed and restored-rapture would be wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Janet Boxx

      November 29, 2016 at 10:35 am

      I like your twist on Hemingway’s quote and I’m so thankful to get to travel this unwanted path with you and Fiona and so many others. Each one reaching back to pull another through. The most beautiful burden-bearers are those who somehow yoke up with others when their own burdens are back-breakingly heavy already. You are that kind of beautiful, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

       
  5. Jhenelle

    November 29, 2016 at 7:17 am

    “Even when we have Jesus we are left longing” – This honestly never crossed my mind. For the past few weeks I’ve felt so broken and detached from everything and I regrettably sometimes wonder if he left me. Our minds can get so clouded and trapped when dealing with loss but after reading this, I’m starting to look at things a little differently.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Janet Boxx

      November 29, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      Jhenelle,

      There is a book by C.S. Lewis the great theologian, who wrote about his own experience with grief after his wife died. In it he said,

      “The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just that time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.” ~ C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

      I think I have experienced this. My mind is whirling, striving so desperately to figure things out, to understand the incomprehensible, that it’s so busy I can’t hear the voice of God let alone experience His comfort and consolation. Honestly, I think a good bit of time has to transpire in order for my heart and mind to still enough to be able to really receive any comfort or consolation. In the beginning I just want to wail out my sorrow not be consoled. I want my pain validated, not fixed! Feeling bad feels bad, but feeling better feels bad too. Our hearts tell us that feeling better diminishes to worth of what’s been lost. It’s not true but that’s how it feels. The long and slow process of healing eventually reconciles your feelings with biblical truth. It’s a long road. It is full of twists and turns and simply can’t be rushed. It’s like driving behind a tractor loaded down with hay in a no passing zone. You can’t get around it and you can’t go any faster. The feelings of detachment are probably emotional shock. My grief counselor says it’s your psyche or the Holy Spirit protecting your mind until you can cope with more. It eases over time.

      Lewis said a lot of controversial things. The book itself is small, but if you aren’t able to concentrate enough to read it, you might google the quotes from his book. I think you will find that he mirrors a lot of your thoughts and feelings.

      Hugs and love to you, your mom and dad. I know everything is raw emotion right now and facing Christmas is extremely difficult for bereaved families. Be gentle with yourself! Feel free to vent with me anytime!

      Like

       
  6. findingjoyinhim41

    November 29, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Beautiful post! It’s funny how we think our strength will bring God glory.. when really it’s our brokenness.. our weakness.. our vulnerability that God shines best through. It’s extremely humbling!

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Janet Boxx

      November 29, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      Thank you and yes, yes, yes – so humbling!

      Like

       
  7. rogerholmack

    November 29, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Wow! Thank you. We must thinking about the same thing : inspiration and comfort can and will from those who suffer tragedy. Christ can speak to us and others through our suffering. You spoke so well thank you. My next blog speaks of this.

    Like

     
  8. JP Robinson

    November 30, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    I’ve listened to a sermon called “Perfect Strength by Perfect Weakness” by WM Branham. Here’s the link. I share in hopes that it might help:

    http://branham.org/en/messagestream/ENG=61-1119

    It really answers a lot of the questions/thoughts brought up in the post. For myself, personal loss has also only served to strengthen and reconfirm my faith. It’s a battleground. As the Bible says “to him that OVERCOMETH.”

    We need to have something to overcome in order to sit with Christ in His kingdom. Be it sickness, spiritual conflicts or death itself, you’ve got to make up your mind to be a soldier and keep quoting His Word. I invite you to check out my blog: jprobinson.org as I write a lot about this subject.

    Thanks for posting!

    Like

     
    • Janet Boxx

      November 30, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I will check out the sermon you recommended and your blog too. Iron sharpens iron! I hope you’ll drop back by and share your thoughts as well.

      Liked by 1 person

       

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