Have you ever held a nail in your hand and squeezed? I’m not talking about one of those railroad nails that would stick out from both ends of your hand. I’m talking about one of those small, sharp nails you hang a picture on. Most people would have an understanding that if they squeezed a nail in their hand the wrong way, it could hurt.
Faith and Relationship With God
As we sat enjoying another glorious Minnesota spring night, we got to hear from Angela as she shared part of her story and what faith has to do with our relationship with God. It seems silly, but sometimes they don’t play out the way we would expect. With our first campfire of the year blazing and the s’mores speaking to us, we got to really turn over the idea of faith.
Angela shared with us about her early young adult years and how she claimed Christianity but did not actually have faith. Does that sound a little familiar to you? If not someone in your social sphere, maybe a family member or even yourself? While she considered whether to leave a very broken relationship, she dealt with anxiety, worry and the fear that she’d be left without.
It was during this difficult time that she decided that to fully trust God meant she would have to do something that was hard and scary, all the while having a faith that said, “I am confident God cares for me.” Many of us were able to relate to the anxiety and worry that we’ve felt in our own challenging circumstances and while we recognize that we desire to trust God, it isn’t always easy to walk that out.
Examples of faith
As we listened to a reading of Hebrews 11, we were reminded of the rich history of people who were asked to trust God in extremely difficult times. Faith compelled to obedience the likes of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and many more forefathers and mothers of our faith as they suffered through torture, mocking, flogging, imprisonment, etc. Many of whom, “did not receive what was promised.” See, God does not ask us to believe to receive. He asks us to love him wholly, which means believing in his goodness and his faithfulness to us, whether we ever see that promise fulfilled or not.
While it’s true that most of us won’t live through such things as torture or flogging, it is pretty likely that we’ll find ourselves in the midst of trials big and small. In those moments, when the cashier hands us an extra $5 by mistake, do we trust God with our finances enough to give it back? Or do we take our provision into our own hands? Will our faith play a big enough role that we stop to pray when we feel that familiar burn of anxiety begin to swell? Or do we jump, already defeated, into another cycle of worry and doubt?
Learning faith in the little things
So what can we do? As we pondered this question, most of us were able to admit that we do struggle with having the kind of faith mentioned in Hebrews. It is especially tempting to pat ourselves on the back while things are going well in our lives. It is more likely that we turn to God when we are frustrated with our circumstances and look to him in those moments of desperation.
It was fairly obvious to all of us, as we sat together, that our faith needs to be an everyday thing. When we are able to act faithfully in the little things, it will become natural to turn to God when things feel genuinely chaotic, hopeless, or out of our control.
Enter the nail
As Angela handed each of us nail, she gave us the same challenge I mentioned at the beginning, to close our hand around it. Miraculously, none of us will need a trip to the ER for a tetanus shot since none of us got poked. How did we do that when there was actually a possibility of getting hurt? Experience. Each of us knew that our nail had a sharp end and that if we weren’t careful the damage it could cause.
As we navigate this life, choosing godliness over worldliness, we grow in our spiritual mindedness. We learn to turn from sin and we learn to acknowledge God’s faithfulness to us. When we are having trouble with doubt and fear, we need only remind ourselves of the numerous ways God provides, protects and blesses us. In the same way that Scripture reminds of us the many instances of deliverance and redemption, we have the gift of recalling God’s goodness in our lives to sharpen and grow our faith.
So next time you’re hanging a picture, give that nail a little squeeze and thank God that he’s given us a way to him.