What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? (v14)
I have struggled with James' point for years -- what is he really saying to us? I have even done the Precept study on the Book of James, and still never quite got it all square in my head. Then yesterday, it just clicked with me. God is amazing that way, you know. He waits just until the right moment, the moment when you really need clarification from His word and then bam! The proverbial light goes on and you just get it.
I got it good. All of a sudden I realized what I needed to do (in my life, re: my circumstance, etc.) and I set about to do it. You see, I have been waiting (and blogging about waiting) for a very long time. I have been patient (or I think so) and long suffering (for sure -- I am taking that one because it has not been a 'walk in the park,' kwim?). I have known what to do for some time, but felt as though something was blocking my being able to do it. I thought it was one of two things: one, God's timing (always is); and two, my personal well-being (am I ready, and so on?) In fact, it was a bit of both. God's timing is always perfect, I know that; but, I also was not ready physically or mentally (and dare I say, even emotionally) to really step out in faith and follow Him. I could do it in my head, and yes, loudly within my heart, but I really wasn't to the point where I could put one foot right in front of the other and start walking in faith.
The funny thing was that I considered walking, I imagined walking, and I even talked about walking -- I just physically didn't take those steps. It was all in my head, and I think in God's timing, it was exactly what I could do (or better yet, all I could do.) I really wasn't able, as a whole, to step outside the door. I could only stand at the door and look, look longingly, but that is all I was able to do.
So yesterday, I got up my gumption (don't you just love that word -- gumption?) and decided I was ready to take those first baby steps of faith. The first thing I did was pray about it and make sure I was indeed ready (I was). Next, I prayed some more and asked the Lord what I needed to do -- what steps should I take today (er, yesterday)? He gave me a short list of things that needed doing -- many have been on my mind for a while, but I didn't do them. Then, I took a deep breath and stepped out into the bright sunshine and took my first steps of faith.
Now, don't get me wrong here -- I have taken lots of journey's of faith in my life. The one I am on right now has been a rather hellish walk (I am still alive and kicking, so PTL!) This faith walk is slightly different. It is not so much of an experience walk (like my marriage crisis); rather more of a "I believe you and am willing to walk even though I don't see the path" kind of faith walk.
This is the Abraham test for me: will I go where the Lord is sending me or will I say not now? Will I make the sacrifice of my child (figuratively speaking -- as in Issac -- whatever I hold as dear to me)? God has told me what to do. He has shown me some things, but they are intangibles -- in the realm of being -- but not physically in my hand to hold. Do I believe that He is God? Do I believe that He has told me what to do? Do I believe ENOUGH to step in faith and follow after His Word only? I have no proof, no evidence, and for a hard-headed fact finder like me -- that is just a deadly combination to even consider. I need proof. I need to see it, really see it, before I can say "I believe it is so."
Well, Dear Sister (speaking to me, of course), that is what Faith is all about. It is the substance of believing what is not seen. And, James' commentary on works is simply the walk part of the process. My faith in God must be put to the test with a good long walk. Do I trust Him enough to walk after Him, without seeing anything, and with only His Word as my promise? Yes and no.
I trust Him for my Salvation and that is a promise -- I am not dead yet -- and no one has come back to life recently to tell us what it was like. I am believing in something I do not see nor can I lay hold of for my very being. I trust Him that He speaks to me through His Word, through the ministry of other believers and teachers of the Word, and through His Holy Spirit. I trust all these things, but I don't trust Him to guide me (literally) to the promised land. Yes, the eternal kingdom, the New Jerusalem -- but not to some town in some state where I may or may not have a job!!
Oh, what befuddlement! I mean, really, do I want to admit that my trust is only in the eternal and not the natural? Shame on me for even admitting it. I am flawed human flesh and I need to hold and touch sometimes to believe. Should it be this way? No, it shouldn't. Is it this way? Sometimes, it is.
So, back to my gumption. I decided to get my gumption up and do what James says: be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer. I decided to stop acting like a ship being tossed about, a person who is double-minded, and start behaving like the faithful person I am. My faith is a gift of Grace, therefore, it is big enough to get me out the door and down the street. It is big enough to walk me all the way across this good US of A and keep me in good stead.
My God is BIG ENOUGH to trust for everything. That is the decision I made yesterday, and the work I am doing today. Today, I am trusting that He is ENOUGH in every circumstance, in every way, and through every single provision of His Mighty Hand. He is my God, and My God is enough for me.