Even with the hour of “saved” time, page 309 had an early start and I’m hoping it has an early finish as well. The room I was staying in last night has a skylight and I opened it when I went to be so I could go to sleep to the sound of the owls calling to each other. That was much more peaceful than the sounds of the thunderstorm which woke me up several hours later. 🙂 After cranking down the skylight, it seemed the remainder of the night was rather restless. We had decided to head out early so we could make it back to South Bend in time for the church service, so I eventually gave up on the tossing and turning and started packing things up. There was a light drizzle and fog present as we left, but one of the deer braved the elements and was standing alongside the road as we left the cabin area. I stopped the truck, rolled down my window, and told it goodbye before leaving the park property to begin the 2 1/2+ hour drive.
The roads were nearly empty as we drove home so we made it in plenty of time to be ready for the morning church gathering. In preparing for a series on stewardship, David shared a message from Psalm 46 about Growing Faith. At the heart of seeing ourselves as stewards, and living with the understanding that God owns everything, is a foundation of faith. Without that foundation, using resources that we think are ours in order to benefit the kingdom of God just isn’t going to happen as it should. While faith is something that “comes from hearing, hearing the Word of God”, it is also something that we need to cultivate so it grows in our life. This morning David shared the heart behind three words that can help our faith grow
- Retreat. For many of us, retreat is a difficult thing to even consider. We choose to live life full speed ahead with no looking back. Yet for our faith to grow, we must retreat from a lifestyle and attitude of pride. Faith requires that we trust in God to be our strength even when, and especially when, we think our strength is enough. When we surrender our own agenda and plans in order to trust fully in God, we retreat into a faith that sees the work of God accomplished in ways beyond what we can think or imagine.
- Remember. A growing faith is fueled when we remember the work God has already done in our life. Forgetting is easy. We do it all the time, even with things that we know are important and shouldn’t be forgotten. God’s Word is filled with examples that should serve as reminders of what God can and has done. But it goes beyond what is recorded in scripture, our faith grows when we remember the work God has done in and through us. One of the advantages of using some form of journaling in your prayer time, is that it can serve as a reminder of things we say we’ll never forget but often do.
- Relax. Since faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”, when it comes to having a growing faith we must relax as we trust that what God has said has been done. It is so easy to read God’s promises in His Word and then act like it is up to us to keep them. Yes, there is work God has called us to do in response to His promises, but the work of keeping those promises is all His. As we live with a growing faith, we can relax knowing that He will never leave us nor forsake us.
After church, it was time for lunch with my family and then an afternoon spent going through the photos I had taken over the past few days. It was a fun journey as they served as an illustration of the morning’s sermon. While not turning out as I had planned, the photos were taken during a time of retreat. The plan was to put together and lead a time of retreat for others to participate in, but I found myself needing to retreat from my plans and trust that God’s plans were better. The photos themselves served as the reminder portion of a growing faith to show me a glimpse of what God did over the past few days. As I remember God’s faithfulness, I can see how I was able to relax then and now as I trust Him to work for my good through all of this.
Today’s photo is one of those from the weekend as I took a sunset walk with God. It is one of many that reminded me of a growing faith as God used this weekend retreat to help me relax in His presence.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- Early Sunday mornings seem like a good time to drive if you want to avoid traffic.
- While the seed of faith are planted in our life through time we spend in God’s Word, there is still a need for us to be involved in allowing it to grow.
- Sometimes we need to retreat into God’s presence and acknowledge that we are not in charge.
- It is good to have various means to help us remember the times we have trusted Gd and He came through for us — as He always does.
- In the midst of the storms of life, a growing faith says, “Relax!”.
- It is fun when your life serves as an example of what you’ve just learned from God’s Word.
- If you’re feeling stressed, pull up a seat on God’s deck and relax.