“…he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.” Mark 3:5
I am such a fan of the elevationchurch.org website, to the point I arrange my Saturday schedule to make sure I am home to view the worship service live at 5pm. Love to listen to Pastor Steve Furtick. His latest series is on functional faith, and yesterday was the first installment. What stuck to me the most like words leaping off a page (in this context off the tv screen) was this (paraphrasing here):
What is the opposite of faith? I heard fear, doubt…but the opposite of faith is certainty.
Faith has to take a stand…your faith will work when it’s stretched out.
I thought about exercising (what he used in his message), and how that enables one to function better, including those muscles in your body that aren’t functioning well until they are exercised. Spiritually speaking, what are parts of your life that aren’t functioning well, like the man’s withered hand? Are you willing by faith to stretch that out to God, expose it, show it to him in faith believing?
Here’s another stunner: do you have faith that is based or dependent on the outcome of a situation? If you do, then faith will be lost. Faith should instead be an outlook:
I don’t know how this will turn out, but I will praise you anyhow.
When this happens, faith is building and is shifted to a different focus: not the outcome, not the problem, but honoring God throughout the process, and trusting him as you stretch out into the unknown. That is functional faith.
I started thinking about myself. Many ideas I have, and I think about them a lot. At times that can be a good thing, but when you continue to think, and not implement, something’s wrong, or better yet, something is not functioning, but is withered, as it is not happening. It’s as if (to use Pastor Steve’s illustration) the idea becomes like fine china that is seldom used, but kept on a shelf, only coming out on special occasions. Implementation of the idea (in my context of writing is just putting ink to paper, translating the idea from mental abstraction to concrete reality) is challenging for me, to the point of thinking perhaps the idea is not a good one.
But I have stretched out, not only thinking of starting a blog but actually doing it. One blog turned into two: lucidity2015.wordpress.com was the first one. And it all started one Saturday morning, I stretched out. There was no certainty of whether or not it would be a success. But I can tell you with certainty that when I look at a blank screen and make the attempt to create, it formulates into concreteness. I begin to come alive with watching words form on a screen, and what amazes me is I can do it at a fast pace.
All because faith was allowed to be stretched:
Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things[we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. Hebrews 11:1 (Amplified Version)
God is waiting for us to move toward him, in faith believing the “it” can happen. Faith involves not knowing the outcome, but trusting God for it, praising him regardless of what the outcome turns out to be. That is faith in its functional form. Honoring God in this manner is everyday worship, as your faith takes a stand through stretching.
Be strengthenized in God…