What does it mean to have faith? God values faith in ways we least expect.
I never used to be afraid.
I was all faith.
Or so I thought.
I had enough faith for everyone around me and seconds to go around too.
Everything would always work out fine because I was with Jesus. And Jesus was with me.
I loved people. Prayed, studied my Bible, and recycled regularly.
But, as time passed by and the number of things that went wrong started adding up, I unconsciously started keeping a tally.
I would’ve never admitted that I was keeping such a list. Not even to myself, much less God.
But, I did.
Deep in my heart, where I did not dare to go, I had a running list of questions about where God was leading me. And why it was taking so long.
Of course, I knew that He is all good, all knowing, and all powerful. So, I didn’t allow myself to doubt God’s plan for me.
Or so, I thought.
I masked my insecurities with God by doubting myself.
What I feared most was being forgotten. I was afraid to live an insignificant life.
During one weekend away spent in whitespace, I decided to share my list of disappointments with God.
After writing pages and pages of unanswerable dilemmas, God gently and lovingly brought two pictures to my mind.
* In the beginning, there was nothing.
It was in nothing, the Holy Spirit hovered, where God created something.
* Mary’s empty womb. How can this be? she asked.
It was in nothing, the Holy Spirit hovered again, where Jesus became flesh.
The place inside me where faith was near death became alive.
Nothingness. That’s me!
I had never been so happy to discover I had become the perfect place for Jesus to rest in.
That song I sang as a gullible teenager long ago suddenly took on a completely different meaning —
Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary,
pure and holy, tried and true
and with thanksgiving,
I’ll be a living, sanctuary, oh for you.
It was as if a bolt of lightning struck my heart and resuscitated my story.
It irrevocably changed my direction. I decided to stop setting my sights on where I was going or what I would end up doing in the future.
I set my sights on who I was walking with — Jesus.
I surrendered my ideas of what life ought to look like, so I could have the courage to make choices facing me today.
In the everyday. That is where I will find Him.
In the everyday. This is where He would lead me.
I realized the best life — the most significant life I can live — is the one I grow in my faith.
In the Old Testament, the patriarchs of faith recognized God’s blessings by taking possession of a physical Promised Land. God’s presence was symbolized by physical blessings of harvest and goods.
This all changed after Jesus arrived in the New Testament. The author of Hebrews tells God prepared a spiritual blessing — something better.
“And all these [patriarches of faith listed earlier],
having gained approval through their faith,
did not receive what was promised,
because God had provided something better for us…
fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of faith”
Our something better isn’t a plan. Our something better is a Person.
Our spiritual Promised Land is life with Jesus.
Next Time You Think
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the areas in life that appear dark and formless — or empty and barren — remember Jesus is faithful —
to create something beautiful in you.
bring life to others through you.
to carry you to safety.
to make a way you cannot see.
to put you back together again.
to return laughter where you taste sorrow.
to give you courage to start over (again and again).
to use every loss and every triumph for His glory.
Next time you think nothing is happening in your life — or you find yourself asking “How can this be?” — remember things aren’t as they appear.
Jesus sees you.
And He will never forget why He put you here.
How is God encouraging you in your faith?
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*** NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN — FAITH BARISTA JAM! ***
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This Thursday’s Topic 7/14:
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I like how you describe going from childlike faith to something deeper. It is hard to hold onto faith as we grow up and realize that “faith” doesn’t mean things are going to be perfect all the time, or that we will get everything we want. But you are right – it is a journey of realizing that faith is actually about living for Jesus, living with Jesus, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
Someone told me once that life is like marching in a parade…We don’t see the route. We’re just marching, seeing what’s in front of us and what’s to the rear and that’s it. God knows the way it will snake and where it will end.
Your journey is an interesting one. The relationship between faith and fear exposes our fragile walk. Recognizing that everyplace you have fear is an opportunity for faith to improve.
Again – your post is timely and for me today. thank you for the spirit in which you write and minister with your words. i needed this TODAY! i really am not forgotten . yay. 🙂 bless you.
[…] For more posts on faith, visit Bonnie Gray’s blog post today: Facing What You Fear to Lead a Significant Life. […]
Jesus works well with nothing… that is a really comforting concept. It’s a great reminder that we can’t add anything to the stuff God wants to build. I think I need to sit and meditate on that for a bit. It’s a tough idea to grasp…
Bonnie, this part especially ministered to me: “After writing pages and pages of unanswerable dilemmas…” I am so encouraged and inspired that you would be willing to do the hard thing of specifically laying your heart before God like this.
God encourages me in my faith everytime I read your blog. I feel like we have similar struggles inside or at least you express them in a way that I ‘get it’. Thank you!
I am also being encouraged through Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts”. I always feel as though I am running through life. I am slowly taking my time through this book and it is opening areas of my heart.
Thank you so much! I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, and have been homebound for all of the last 17 months and 2 more summers. I am empty and barren. My family can’t (won’t) get scent free when they come to see my mom upstairs. They don’t see me. If one of them was ill with this, I know I would try harder to see them.
Thank you for encouraging me to walk with Jesus.
Sadly, I’ve kept a long list. I love your thoughts on nothingness. That is inspired.
Thank you for this post!
“I surrendered my ideas of what life ought to look like, so I could have the courage to make choices facing me today.” Oh girl…it does take so much courage. And failure is certain. BUT the honest questions and inventory of our lives keeps faith at work. Facing our doubts, finding our lane, resting in His care and comfort. It is all so daily. My prayer often is not just help me live in faith but God give me the courage it takes to choose faith.
Your insights are full of truth…and life!
Going back to that place of nothingness is where God can continue to do something in us; to realize that without Him, what indeed would there be? A fruitless, barren land. That heart emptied of self– a perfect place for Jesus. Nice!
I love this topic. I know that I tend to get in the way of God working in me and through me. But I need to be a vessel that is emptied of self to allow Him free access.
I love your reminder that God sees me and never forgets why He put me here. It is very comforting. It is also very encouraging and gives me confidence to persevere in my faith even when I don’t see all He’s doing. I use my childlike faith and know that I know in my heart.
It is so good to be back joining in with you Bonnie. I am off work for one week so I had more time to write and blog; love that.
Blessings and love,
I love the picture God gave you about nothingness. I’ve said the same thing about emptiness as we waited to have another natural child (and are still believing). In that emptiness, we opened to foster kids and a quicker route to adoption than we had planned. That emptiness when accompanied by faith brought the steps that filled us so beautifully. Thanks Bonnie. Great post.
So often we do think nothing is happening – but God sees, regardless.
I. Love. This. To be an empty space for Him to breathe His own life into, His being, His Kingdom. Yes.
As a little child – faith, I make it so complicated.
I wrote a remembrance of faith on my blog, linked to yours.
I’m not sure if I did it right, I’m still learning my way around this new country.
I think that were get disappointed because we begin with a lot of assumptions abut HOW we feel that life, especially Life in Jesus, should be.
Maybe it’s because we continue to look at the world as a reference point. Instead of defining ourselves by the Holy Spirit’s standards for us and asking Him where HE is working in us, we gravitate toward that which we already know and have as a ready reference.
Our vision for life and living is established as we fellowship with the Living Word …AND die daily to ourselves, our wants, our desires. In a world of constant connection, pulling the plug is tough. Second-guessing God is even tougher. When He tells us to “be still and Know that I AM God “, that is the directive. We may have to start with “how do I do that , Lord”, and go from there…. Thank you for a pensive time of sharing.
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from nothing… The Holy Spirit hovers… the Word is fulfilled. Profound. His words do not return void. God with us… in everything. Thanks Bonnie.
The journey from emptiness and disappointment to faith, full and sweet — ah, beauty and truth!
“God values faith in ways we least expect.” Bonnie, this statement rings true in fact and experience. Faith does please God!
We should always ace our fears so that in the future, we are ready to conquer them…
I just realized today that my faith is based on things I can see and not on what I cant see. THank you for this reminder… it really gives me a new perspective. I have been focusing on the “nothingness” in my life and have forgotten to “see” what God has been doing underneath it all. Thanks ! I always enjoy reading what you write. Keep writing and encouraging others 🙂
[…] linking up today with the Faith Barista Jam. Won’t you join […]
Love it Bonnie! It reminds me of how He is the potter, and I the clay. It is He who molds me and makes me what I am to become. He takes my nothingness and makes it something. I am only nothing without Him. I love how you said that Jesus puts us back together again. So good!
God always seems to put things in front of me when I need them most. This week its been many things from many venues reminding me that with him I am able to overcome my cravings for sins in my past. He reminds me that I am not a slave to my fears or to my old way of life! When I went under the water I left all that old stuff there and he has filled me with himself. So there cannot possibly be any room left for the nonsense! He proves this to me over and over and over! I love him so much for that! I know I would cave in if it weren’t for him putting words, songs, and most importantly people willing to tell me like it is!
This is wonderful! I love the visual of Mary’s empty womb being a sanctuary – a place prepared and waiting. The same goes for us. Love it! God used the nothingness of the universe to create. We serve that same God who SPEAKS things into existence. It takes a space of NOTHING to have SOMETHING placed in it. You can tell I’m processing and chewing as I write.
Thanks for sharing your heart! I just stumbled upon your jam! I hope to join you next week!
God bless you!
We’re going through a deficit of volunteers in every area of the church. I am running four service teams at my church. I try to remember that though it feels overwhelming right now with so few chipping in to help that God has a reason and maybe I can’t see very clearly right now, but I trust in Him.
You just inspired me to write a SECOND post for today. Come see. :o) I mentioned you. http://bethinnc.blogspot.com/2011/07/placing-something-into-nothing-huh.html
wow. how timely! i LOVE:
“I decided to stop setting my sights on where I was going or what I would end up doing in the future.
I set my sights on who I was walking with — Jesus.”
Thank-you for your words, for sharing your walk of faith. And thank-you for hosting this community that offers encouragement!
Throughout the whole reading I kept saying me too and oh that’s so true. By the end I shouted, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Woohoo!!!” Shadow’s ears popped up!
A better Person in my nothingness – so much value to me right now.
So many of your feelings expressed at the beginning of this post have rang true for me as well. I really appreciate the candor with which you share. It helps to know that we are not alone in our doubts, struggles, & questions.
We may always be planning for and thinking about the future, but our lives are lived in the everyday. And that’s where God wants to find us. The future will come soon enough. Good post, Bonnie.
Thanks Bonnie for sharing.
I am starting.a new area of service, I know I am led here. praying to move with God rather than plan and seek His blessings for my plans. It is scary, yet exciting. Waiting has never been easy for me. Doing, moving fast and having it all charted out with little pockets of controlled unknowns for excitement, that is what I like. Now it is humbling, a step at a time. Being still. I want to come through this KNOWING He is God.
Thanks again Bonnie.
Are you kidding me?! Again, it’s like I’m reading m own journal here. I’m not one to comment on the blogs I read, but you have struck a cord in me that’s reverberating through my very soul! I cried as soon as I started reading this….God is using you, Bonnie, to break through some very tender areas of my life. THANK YOU for listening to Him and sharing with us. Instead of living in defeat because of the nothingness inside, I will celebrate that HE is there ready to do what He’s been waiting to do in me.
Thanks for always speaking from a place of authenticity and frailty! That’s always encouraging to me.
[…] Well, it is odd, I must admit, but it came into my thoughts this morning — inspired by the Faith Barista’s post today. Are you feeling empty? Dry? Alone? You’re in good […]
[…] get to where I wanted to go? Or would I dare to believe God was already at work, creating something out of my nothing, as the Scripture […]
[…] that moment of nothingness, I realized I was already in possession of the most beautiful gift from […]
Thank you so much for sharing this time you had with God – it so blessed & encouraged me because I often slip into thoughts of inadequacy. I tell my self that God’s grace is sufficient for me but still wonder why I so easily get distracted again. Your message reminds me that Jesus lives and cares about right now today – not just tomorrow. I don’t have to have a plan or know His plan for tomorrow so much as I just need to trust Him today. Your visual of the nothingness is so recognizable – God bless you.
Been gone for a bit, and I am getting caught up on blogs. Wonderful! Spoke deep to my heart. I have had lists…. hidden in the dark. God brought the same miracle. 🙂 Thank you friend.
Having Faith is what I need right now in my life so much is happening that I cant even explain. God is seperating me from the weeds of life, and I just have a burning question and he isnt given me an answer, he just has delayed my answer due to the process, purging, and purpose for his will. And I dont understand (why) the process of waiting for your answer is so frustrating, but I just know God is Hope and Love. Right, now now I have to believe in God and his power, because my Circumstances and environment dont match my vision. Speak to me Holy spirit.
Great article about hangin’ in there!
I recently lost my wife to alcoholism, after a 9 year struggle of binges, rehabs stays and finally death. I realized that Jesus had carried me through the fire and cleansing of this dysfunctional struggle. He called me back to him by reducing me to emptiness- so that I finally Let Go and Let God take over. As I leaned in on faith, I still thought somehow a miracle of healing would occur. The miracle was to take my wife home to God to end her suffering, shame and pain.
A year ago I wailed against God- angry- mad- why me – why me- what have I done to deserve this? This was my hurt and anger directed at God. What I had done was turn my back on Jesus, and this was the way he got my attention. I had sinned, and finally realized I was enabling my wife’s drinking and was ignoring my God.
I have since asked for God’s forgiveness, went down on my knees and turned my life back over to Jesus. I returned to the faith I was taught as a child, as as a child I love my Lord. He has given me peace and serenity to go through the fire. He has cleansed me so I can follow in his footsteps and do His will for me. Jesus is my rock and foundation, and I have dedicated my life to follow Him as best I can for the remainder of my life. His will be done. Thank you Jesus for not abandoning me, for accepting me back, for letting me love and praise you with my talents and gifts that you have lent me.
Please continue to reveal your plan for me on my heart, so I can help others know you and follow your path to praise God everyday of our lives. Shalom
I was really inspired by this article. I have experienced all the thoughts and emotions expressed in it. I prayed to God to reveal to me, what is hindering me from surrendering to His will, and it is fear.
I needed to hear of faith and to remember that Jesus is with me at all times in my faith walk
I love how God met you as you carved out “white space” and then He filled it with such encouraging insights. Thanks for sharing!