Tag Archives: God’s strength

Is Faith a Magic Charm?

What Do You See?

Is faith a magic charm? Some people think so, but not me. Faith is not my “lucky rabbit’s foot”, or special hat that will ensure my life goes smoothly. Faith doesn’t protect me from failure, or accident or illness. Faith won’t even keep my loved ones alive. So what good is it?

Faith is that strength from God that comes when I feel totally overwhelmed. When I’m amazed that I actually survived such a tough time, I know that God joins me in life’s journey. Faith tells me that God’s strength will sustain me through the joys and tragedies that come with living. With faith, I will not just survive, but live creatively. My faith is my anchor for living. I will not lose hope. When darkness surrounds me, God gives me enough light for the next step, and that is all I need.

My faith also calls me to journey in gratitude. I am grateful for the abundant blessings I receive. I am also grateful for God’s presence carrying me, leading me through the storms of life. I am grateful that I can trust that there will be new life at the end of the storm.  God will not be defeated.

Forty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old high school student painted an intriguing masterpiece just for me. It hangs in my living room still today. In the picture, a teenager stands at the water’s edge with her dog. Wind blows her hair and clothes. White caps roll in. Thunderclouds fill the sky. There is a gap in the clouds with just a sliver of sun showing. Sometimes, my guests think the teen is watching a storm coming. Sometimes they see new life in the sun that is peeking through the clouds, bringing an end to the storm. I see faith in that painting. The presence of the son, whether or not he is hidden by the clouds, is always there waiting, loving, giving strength. The teen in the picture can face whatever comes, and whatever has been. For me, that high school student of so long ago captured Jesus’ words, “I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age.”

What I Have Is Enough!

female_back_ache

In June, at church, I told my story, “A Boy and His Lunch”. It is a retelling of the Bible story called “Feeding the Five Thousand.” That particular morning wasn’t a good day. I hadn’t slept well. As I ate my breakfast, my ailing back screaming with pain, I wondered if I would survive leading worship. I prayed, “God I need your energy. I’m barely moving this morning. Please carry me.”

On the way to the church, I rehearsed the story in my mind and came to the lines “Even then, at the age of eight, I knew my lunch was just a drop in Jesus’ ocean of need. There would be enough for him and maybe even some of his friends but that crowd of thousands, no not at all. Jesus said it was just what he needed. And it was. It truly was.”

I thought about my aching back and the tiny bit of energy I had that morning. “OK God,” I prayed, “I’m giving you all that I have. I can do no more. The rest is up to you.” I envisioned Jesus reaching out to me and taking my hand.

“You’re all I need this morning Janet,” he said. “Thank you, Father for Janet’s gift of commitment and storytelling.”

I felt God’s blessing of peace and strength descend upon me. I flew through that service. I felt God’s Spirit pour forth as I told the story and served communion. God used my offering and all were fed. I went on to do a funeral service in the afternoon and enjoy supper out with friends. Yes, I was exhausted when the day was over. Pain had descended again. Yet I was filled with joy.

I gave what I had. That is all God asks. God took care of the rest. Thanks be to God.

Andrew said, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?…Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.”  (John 6:9 & 11)