Faith and working to attain what I wanted were always two separate things. I could not leave anything up to fate, I wasn’t willing to forgo that control. If I just worked tirelessly, without holding back, I would get exactly where I wanted to be. Nothing could stop me as long as I didn’t stop working.
I thought faith was for people who couldn’t hack it, unwilling to put in the work – they would just hope it all worked out. I looked at faith as disempowering and I wasn’t going to allow myself to relinquish that perceived power.
Thanks to God’s infinite grace, my eyes were opened to the truth.
The problem with my idea – we are powerless against God’s will. If it isn’t in the cards for us, no matter how bad we think we want it, I don’t believe we can attain it.
“Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise, you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.” James 4:13-16 (NLT)
I have realized it is a balance. It is not enough to simply sit, pray, and take zero action and it’s NEVER enough to work tirelessly without ever trusting in God to guide us down His path.
This idea of giving up that control is scary to many, however, consider this analogy:
Imagine you are stranded in a forest. It is too dense to let any light in. You need to get out. You are running out of time. What do you do?
Maybe you have a compass, possibly an idea of which way you were heading before you got lost. You have an old map and a cellphone with a spotty signal. You know you’ve gone too far to backtrack. You decide north is your best chance of getting out safely. You start hacking away at the brush.
You doubt your course, you divert from the path. You panic and think, “maybe I went the wrong way – I’ll head back.” Your time is running out, you haven’t made any progress. It’s getting darker, your doubt increases. “Should I head this way? Should I set up camp? I could climb this tree and see if I get service?” Paralysis by analysis sets in – you’ve gone nowhere.
You trust that you are heading in the right direction. You hack away at the brush. The light has yet to shine through but you continue trekking forward. The brush has gotten thicker, yet you keep hacking away. Eventually, you see the light shine through, “YES! I am almost out of here.”
You see even with all the info, all the tools, you still must trust you are on the right path. It is in letting go of the need to completely know the outcome that you are able to take action. If you are faced with doubt at every step, you will never be able to make progress.
“…faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity.” James 2:17 (CEB)