Monday, June 27, 2011

Faith and Community

I'm winding down at the end of a marathon weekend. Trying to make deliberate efforts to create community in our house, dragging my poor roommates along to my second event (in which I had WAY more very young children than even imagined!!!), a surprise meeting with my friend I hadn't seen in about 2 years and her new husband, searching in bookstores and not finding what we wanted, swimming through a sea of crazy Arashi (super popular idol group) fans near Tokyo Dome trying to find a place to eat, riding crowded trains to get home, surprise house guests the night before planned house guests, church, processing, lots of walking, and trying to love the people important to me.

I learned a lot this weekend.

I have been blessed with an amazing amount of people to love.

And loving people takes a lot of energy.

We survived the weekend, and I would even venture to say it was successful in most areas.

So one would think today I would be basking in the glory of my successes.

Only I didn't.

Somehow, all I could think of was all the ways I was still not measuring up. All the places I still haven't gotten to yet. All the victories I saw, were apparently not enough for me.

I had just finished telling my friend to not allow the Spirit of Discouragement beat her down.

I think it heard me and decided to remind me how hard that is.

So what does this have to do with Hebrews Chapter 11 you ask? It's a reminder to Remember.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

I was talking before about the umiboshi on people's backs, and not being able to see your own.

Faith is accepting it when your friends tell you you have one... even when you can't see it.
Faith is accepting what is not said, but rather believing the history you have with the people in your life.
Faith is accepting that God loves me, and has a plan for me, even if I don't know what it is, and even if it's not what I imagine.
Faith is choosing God's plan over mine.
Hope is looking forward to what God has planned and not what I think I want.
Faith is confidence, not insecurity.

Faith grounded in love...

I hope you read the whole chapter... But here's a section to read again:

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Faith is not always receiving the things promised in the time you assume. Faith is welcoming them even from a distance. Faith is knowing you are a foreigner and a stranger. Faith is discontent with the imperfect countries of this earth, and longing for a country of their own. Faith is not desiring to return to the imperfect countries of our past.

Faith is when God is not ashamed to be called my God...

Maybe this is so easy for me to understand. I understand being a foreigner and a stranger. I understand the longing for something better. A longing for a "country" of my own.

Usually the longing disappoints me. I want it now. But Faith is patient. Faith believes when the clock continues to tick. Faith Remembers, and Believes.

Today I was not so faithful. But in my weakness, I learned a little more about Faith, so I am thankful for the times when I fall.

I am Thankful for marathons of community.

I am Thankful for the Blessings in human form that God has put in my life.

And now I am trying to Remember to translate Thankful into Faithful.

How wonderful it would be to live a Faithful life. Even in the trials, Faith ever moves forward. Even when there is nothing to see, no evidence of a future you are hoping for, Faith fights the discouragement, and keeps believing.

How do you fight?

With Faith.

How do you build a community that can withstand storms?

With Faith and Love.

How do you learn to Love, when it's so hard.

Faith in God's character.

If God is Good, then there is nothing to fear.

Trust, even when I cannot see. Even when everything around me offers no hope.

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

I am blessed with people who are not ashamed to be called my friend (even though there are many reasons why they could be.) And I am blessed with a God who is not ashamed to be called my God.

I cling to these, believing in Faith that they are True.

And tiny seeds of courage are planted.

Tomorrow will find Joy, because My God is waiting for me there. And He is not ashamed to be called my God.

(I did originally intend to write more about the lessons about community I've learned, but somehow this is what I came up with. They are in there, but more subtle than I thought, but I'll leave the title stand. Because this is what I learned in community.)

Now I'm off to bed with some Holy Warm Fuzzy thoughts. :-D

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