I am going to spend the next four Wednesdays of Advent integrating thoughts on this season of preparation with meditations from The Green Letters: Principles of Spiritual Growth A Clarion Classic by Miles J. Stanford (you might want to get “The Complete Green Letters” also available here)
If you don’t have this on your bookshelf, I highly recommend it. It’s a ‘Lifer’. A Book that you will come back to over and over again. My husband and I were introduced to it while we were in a year internship in Hungary through our Discipleship Leaders, ministering twenty plus years which began during Communism and have fed long and hard off of it.
The first chapter is simply ‘Faith’. It is the foundation of all of Life. Of Advent. It is impossible to please God without it…in this season or any other.
And I am asking myself, ‘Do I believe He is Coming?’
Will He ‘show up’ in the big ways I need Him to as we prepare to move overseas? Does He care? The deep burdens I’ve lifted before Him for years that remain in darkness. Do I believe He is Coming?
“Unless our faith is established upon facts, it is no more than conjecture, superstition, speculation or presumption. Hebrews 11:1 leaves no question about this: “Faith is the Substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith standing on the facts of the Word of God substantiates and gives evidence of things not seen.” The Green Letters, p. 9
Do I have a ‘Simeon heart’? An ‘Anna heart’? Would I be waiting for the Messiah in the Temple? Would I be clinging to the prophecies called promises and that Jehovah is Who. He. Says. He. Is? In the Spirit waiting, pleading to declare boldly that THIS MESSIAH will turn a Jewish world upside down as a ‘light to the Gentiles’? Do I Believe He Is The One Coming?
Or is my faith in “the probabilities?”
“Then, too, probabilities are the big temptation when it comes to exercising faith.” p.10
And what is probable about a God above all in all and through all becoming a tiny, vulnerable newborn baby? What is probable when captivity and wilderness have been your journey? Is a Messiah who will set the hearts of young and old free. everywhere. probable? What is probable when you carry the baggage of slavery and all your faith has been the doing? Do I believe in the probable or in He who epitomizes the INPROBABLE?
Much of the work of “the Green Letters” is a compilation of the lives and faiths of many great witnesses.
Stanford quotes George Mueller on ‘faith’
“Faith has nothing to do with probabilities. The PROVINCE OF FAITH begins where probabilities cease and sight and sense fail. Appearances are not to be taken into account. The question is—whether God has spoken it in His Word.” p.10
Yes. He has. Over 360 prophecies foretell Him. The Messiah. Jesus. Yet, where do I stand amidst the people who have heard of His coming? I am oppressed and there has been 500 years of silence. Can it possibly be true? Do I believe He is Coming?
It has been a thirty-six year journey in this world. From first breath endless gifts that speak of Him. Provisions countless in the darkest of places. Near homelessness. Heartbreak. Terminal Cancer (my mother’s). Years living on Full Voluntary Support as a Missionary. Always I have been met with the wonders of His provision. care. Love. Yet, now in this season, Do I Believe He is Coming?
Again, Stanford quotes Mueller:
“God delights to increase the faith of His children. We ought, instead of wanting no trials before victory, no exercise for patience, to be willing to take them from God’s hands as a means. I say—and say it deliberately—trials, obstacles, difficulties, and sometimes defeats are the very food of faith.” p.11
The slavery. The wilderness. The captivity. The silence. Preparing the way for a faith big enough for a Messiah. And so, too, the unanswered and the unseen as I carry these years-long burdens and walk a sojourner between countries are building a faith big enough for a God. Who. Is. All. The. Glory.
Stanford later quotes James McConkey on ‘faith’
“Faith is dependence upon God. And this God-dependence only begins when self-dependence ends. And self-dependence only comes to its end, with some of us, when sorrow, suffering, affliction, broken plans and hopes bring us to the place of self-helplessness and defeat. And only then do we find that we have learned the lesson of faith.” p.11
I am a hard-hearted Pharisee who trusts in the good I do and will make my own way because God hasn’t shown up in my way. The. Way. And. Time. I. Want. I am a Samaritan Woman who has given herself to every available thing. Dreams. I. Dream. My. Own. Desires. Yet, layer by layer as I wait and ask, when all darkness appears to have won, the heart of hearts can answer. Yes. I Must Believe He is Coming. There. Is. No. Other. Hope.