I scheduled a visit with our pastor Doug last week for counsel about a life development that I characterized as a “setback.”.
After I laid out what was happening, he offered a question, “What is this “setback” preventing you from achieving?”
I reviewed some goals I viewed this setback blocking my way from – to make a satisfactory living, contribute in my workplace, be viewed there as valued and relevant, and to have sufficient non-work time leftover for personal pursuits – family, community, church, etc.
When I finished my diatribe, Doug allowed a long pause into our conversation during which an odd dawning rose in me that I had failed to mention the Lord in any of my answers,
n o t e v e n o n c e.
“OK,” Doug commented, “but you haven’t answered my question. “How are you not moving forward due to these developments?”
I thought I had JUST ANSWERED that question so I was somewhat at a loss for words. Doug came to the rescue (if you can call it that).
“Glenn, don’t take this wrong because I suffer from this as well. Try considering that you suffer more from an unbelief problem than from this so-called setback.”
An unbelief problem? Me?
Clutter-clearing comments like those are why I appreciate Doug’s counsel so much. However, not until I was visiting with God the next morning did the weight of my alleged unbelief problem begin to sink in. The Gospel Transformation study I’m doing even offered a nice little diagram for my condition, titled “The vicious cycle of unbelief.”
I was more than a bit taken aback to see myself in ALL FOUR unbelief categories. A couple of pages later was “The gracious cycle of faith” where I saw some of myself but not nearly enough.
Doug often explains how belief is just one of three ingredients of faith – Knowing Christ, Believing in Christ and Trusting Christ. If all are not present and working simultaneously, it’s not faith.
The fourth bullet of category 3 of the unbelief cycle really gave me pause., “I give intellectual assent to who I am in Christ, but it is “only positional,” it will really be true when I get to heaven.” To defer to this line of thinking, as I sometimes do, is to dismiss what Jesus offers, “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” As in RIGHT NOW!
These points were contained in a lesson titled ‘“Who am I: ‘saint” or “sinner”?’ In Christ, I am a saint. Developments that seem like setbacks are, for saints, actually fodder the Holy Spirit uses to mold us into Christ’s image.
When faith is operating on all cylinders, we become how Paul describes himself in 2 Corinthians 6: 3-13. Waking in trust in the Spirit of Christ within us, setbacks are absorbed so we are always “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks … to give the reason for the hope that (we) have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15).
Excuse me but I have some praying to do.
- Photo source site: https://mavunodowntown.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/help-my-unbelief/
- Diagrams from Gospel Transformation, second edition, pages 145 and 147. By World Harvest Mission