July 2013 180

By Melissa McLaughlin

My eyes scanned the audience.  There she was.  Her soft gray hair and gentle smile radiating love toward all, but especially toward me, her daughter. I remember looking for her among the crowd.  Though the kind faces of others were a sweet comfort, there was no face like my mother’s.  She came.  Not because my singing was so extraordinary, not because my instrumental pieces were so exceptional, not because my performances were remarkable.  She came because she loved me.  Music has always been a passion in my life and this love of music has carried me to many places.  Whether vocal, instrumental, stage performances, recitals, church ministry or living room concerts, whatever the venue or moment, she came.

My mother’s steadfast love for me was a firm foundation supporting me for as long as I can remember.  I knew she was there.  I knew she was cheering.  I knew she was enjoying me.  Just me.

This certain and unquestionable love from my mother formed my most basic understanding of the love God has for me.  A faithful and sure footing.  A solid ground beneath my feet.  Unshakable. Unchanging. Absolute.  Always there.  Always watching.  Always loving.

When I looked for my mother, I had faith that I would see her.  I just knew.  Partly from past experience, partly from a soul knowing.  Partly based on truth and evidence, partly based on an undefinable heart perception.  What she said, I believed.  What she promised, she gave.  I had faith in my mom.  I had faith in her love for me.  I knew I was loved by a great love.

When I look for God in my life, I have faith in Him and His love for me.  I base this faith on evidence found in creation, evidence revealed in God’s Word, the Bible and evidence seen through the love of His Son, Jesus on the cross.  I also base this faith on a soul knowing and heart perception.  When I am distant from God, I feel an empty sense of withering away.  When I am close to God, I feel full, complete, at peace and yet energized and alive.  His Word speaks a more compelling truth into my soul.  I know I am loved by a great Love.

Out of my love for God, one of my greatest desires is for increased faith.  I want more than to simply say I believe “in” God.  I want to believe God.  Take Him at His Word, the way I take my mom at her word.  I want to trust God with my whole being, the way I would trust myself into my mother’s hands when I was a small child.  Resting, assured, knowing in the deepest part of me, that God is for me, that God is true, that God is faithful, that God wants the best for me and that God loves me.

In the Bible we see that faith is critical.  The author of Hebrews 11:6 writes, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  Indeed, the entire chapter of Hebrews 11 clarifies how our relationship with God was established by faith of the ancients long ago and continues only by our faith in God today.

In fact, this whole faith thing is an incredible notion to ponder.  God formed the universe and all of the living things.  God called human begins into existence, then called them to follow His ways.  God made clear His laws for the people, then sent a Savior to fulfill those same laws that the people could not.  Now, for any who believe in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior, He sends His Holy Spirit so we can grow in our relationship with Him and become more and more like Jesus.  For His glory.  We receive the blessing of life by His hand.  Then we receive the choice of eternal life by His hand again, His nail scarred hands.  From our first breath to our last.  He did it all!  From the first moment of believing to our first moment in heaven.  He did it all!  We enjoy it all by faith.  It’s all accomplished by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ and then acting on that faith.  That’s amazing grace!  Though we may trust the hands of our own loving mothers, how much more do we rest in the loving hands of God from our first days, to our last and on into eternity.  What an amazing God with an amazing plan of love and grace!

Given God’s amazing greatness, have you ever wondered, “What would it take to amaze Jesus?”  Perhaps healing the sick, casting out demons or raising someone from the dead.  Perhaps selling all your possessions and traveling far and wide to proclaim the news of Jesus.  Perhaps giving your cloak to a stranger or setting up your home for the care of orphans and widows.

Here’s something fascinating.  We see in the New Testament there were two times when Jesus was amazed.

The first mention of Jesus’ amazement was after a visit to his hometown found in Mark 6:5-6 which reads, He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. 

The second example is found in Luke 7:1-10.  When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.  When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”  So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”  Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

Imagine that!  The way to amaze Jesus is by faith!  We can amaze Jesus by our lack of faith or our immense faith.

In 1 Corinthians 12, we read that faith is a gift of the Spirit and we are encouraged to desire the gifts of the Spirit.  Then in Matthew 17:20, the disciples asked Jesus why they could not drive out a demon from a distressed boy and Jesus states, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  

One of the deepest prayers of my heart  is that I may grow in childlike faith, trusting my heavenly Abba Father with an even greater trust than I extend to my lovely mother, who is a beautiful earthly example pointing me to an eternally trustworthy God.  For Jesus said in Matthew 18, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” 

I fervently ask God for the gift of childlike faith so that I may trust, love and please my Savior more.  In addition, I pray for the gift of faith so that He has greater access to my mind, heart and life in order to accomplish His work through me more swiftly and more fully.  God does the work.  My job is to believe.  What does it take?  Amazing faith!  May His amazing grace inspire amazing faith!

 

What Faith Knows and Hopes For by John Piper

A Prophet Without Honor By Alistair Begg

The 2 Times Jesus Was Amazed By Chuck Balsamo