Friday, March 11, 2011

Faith First and Foremost

Jesus answered him, "Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test."
- Matthew 4:7
How often do we put God to the test? Before I was baptized, when I was still looking for answers, I desperately wanted a sign from God. I wanted to be sure I was on the right path. I would look up at the sky, hoping to see a certain cloud formation. I would pray and ask God to give me 'a word.' I would open my Bible randomly and expect to read a verse of confirmation. But God never gave me the sign I was looking for, and it wasn't until I stopped asking for one that I began to feel God's presence. When I realized that true faith cannot be built on signs, that's when I allowed my heart to open to God, and He immediately filled it.

We cannot, and must not put God to the test. That's not how He works. By asking for a sign, we're saying that we don't really believe in God. And even if He did give us a sign, faith based on something we have seen would be weaker than faith based on what our heart tells us is true. The Apostle Thomas only believed in the Risen Jesus when he had seen the wounds in His hands and feet and side. Jesus said to him, "You believe because you have seen. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet still believe."

Now, I'm not saying that people who have seen miracles, or who have had a personal experience of God have a weak faith. But faith has to come first. Mary, the greatest and most perfect of all the disciples, had that faith. At the wedding at Cana, Jesus performed His first miracle. He didn't want to, and at first he refused. But Mary had faith. She believed that Jesus would help, but more importantly, she believed that He could help. Jesus had never performed any miracles before that point, but Mary told the servants to fill the jars with water because she had faith. The faith came first, then the miracle.

After I opened my heart to God and gave my life to Jesus, after I had made my profession of faith, then I began to have some of the experiences I had searched for. In prayer I will often hear 'a word.' Most times if I open my Bible randomly I will find a verse that gives me just what I need. I believe I have even felt Christ put His arms around me, and whisper in my ear. I am still waiting for that image in the clouds though :)

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