Characteristics of faith

I’m thinking out loud here…

I’ve mentioned that for our ladies’ luncheon this year, instead of a speaker giving a devotional, we’re having a lady do a dramatic presentation of Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose, an autobiographical book about her confinement in a Japanese prison camp while serving as a missionary to the Philippines during WWII. I read it years ago: it’s a tremendous book. So I was excited to hear that this lady did this presentation.

In determining the theme and theme verse for the luncheon, I’ve been dipping in and rereading parts of the book. You can’t read much of it without the theme of faith becoming prominent. What I don’t want to happen, though, is for people to walk away from the presentation thinking, “Wow, how inspirational. She had such great faith. I could never do what she did, but what a great story.” I don’t think she would have wanted people to magnify her, or even her faith. In her acknowledgments, she wrote,

“More than ten years ago I began to write the story of my experiences during World War II for Bruce and Brian, my sons. I wished them to know, if ever difficult circumstances came into their lives, that their mother’s God is still alive and very well, and His arm has never lost its ancient power.”

She would want God, the object of her faith magnified, not the size of her own faith.

That reminded me of the time the disciples asked the Lord Jesus to increase their faith. He didn’t give them a three point formula for increasing faith. He responded in Luke 17: 6: “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” You have probably heard it said that the mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds. He seems to be saying, “It’s not the size of your faith that matters: just exercise what you have.”

Another passage that has been coming to mind in connection with Darlene’s story is from I Peter 1:

6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory…

One idea for a theme for the luncheon was “Golden Faith” — a faith tried, purified, and precious.

It seems that what is more important to the Lord is not the size of our faith, but its purity, from the above verses, and it’s simplicity, from Mark 10:

14 But when Jesus saw it [that they were turning away the children], he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

See also Matthew 18: 1-6.

And, of course, it’s not just the character of faith: it is primarily the object of our faith: not some nebulous or mysterious idea of “the universe” (you hear people say things like that these days: “The universe has a purpose,” etc.) God wants us to have faith in Him.

Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Now…I just need to figure out a way to distill these thoughts into something more concise.

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7 thoughts on “Characteristics of faith

  1. I think it is probably just that their faith hasn’t been tested. After our foster daughter went back to her birth mother, I was often to hear people say: I just couldn’t handle that, it would hurt too much. I wondered if they thought it didn’t hurt me. I never regreted the years she was with me. For those years, she was my little girl in every sense of the word. I’m still amazed that 20 years later God reunited us.
    That is just one of the times my faith was tested. I thank God for the valley so that I can appreciate the mountains.
    You cannot change other’s perceptions. She will touch their hearts with her story and that is what you want. I’m sure she makes a point of the fact God is due the glory.

  2. Sammie, I wasn’t so much wanting to change anyone’s perceptions per se — I was just wanting to avoid the response that, “Wow, that’s great for her, but I could never do it.” God wants us to exercise faith in Him in whatever circumstances He places us.

    Maybe another point is that He gives us the grace for particularly difficult circumstances when we need it, not beforehand. Sometimes people are afraid to surrender all to God for fear He will ask them to endure something awful. But He promises His grace and His Presence. I’ve found, as you mentioned, His upholding grace through circumstances I would have been afraid of if I had known about them beforehand — but His grace was there in time of need.

    That’s one reason I am “thinking out loud” here — to sort though all these thoughts and decide what, if anything, to say before or after Your comment gave me more to think about — ways other people might also respond.

    Ultimately I want God to get across to each person the message He has for them through this presentation and am praying to that end.

  3. God wants each of us to react with Him to whatever life throws our way. It’s normal for us to be afraid rather than trust. It takes faith to trust. We need to pray for more faith.

  4. Philippians 4:13 — I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

    Doesn’t that pretty well some it up?

    I know you guys are going to have a fabulous luncheon!

  5. I would love to see that dramatic presentation. That book is my favorite missionary biography. I also had the privilege of meeting Darlene Deibler Rose. Her writings made a great impression on me.

  6. I have also read this book….more than once. What a powerful testimony for the Lord’s grace and provision in super-abundance. I feel pretty certain that, had you asked the author several months prior to her horrific experiences, whether she could endure, persevere, under such circumstances, she would perhaps have hesitated in her response. None of us fully understands today the enabling power of tomorrow’s grace.

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