The Gift of Faith
Fire alert went off at 6 on a typical Wednesday morning when I was supposed to pack up my books and be ready for class. Today was different. The sky did not show the normal clear blue. Instead, clumps of gray clouds covered the north side of the sky. They resembled a gigantic blanket descended from heaven, disabling us from seeing the sun and from breathing in fresh air. This is Skirball fire, a wildfire that started five miles north from my campus. As we were instructed to be prepared to evacuate at anytime, my roommates and I started wondering what we should bring? In times of emergency, what was our priority? what about other things we own and cherish? At the same time, we questioned ourselves was our heart troubled and panicked as those who do not believe? Thankfully, we were merely on the verge of the evacuation zone rather than experiencing the true hassle of escaping from fire. However, this short but significant episode made me realize the test of faith God could give us at any moment and thereby the importance of putting faith in practice in daily life.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witness, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 11 presents numerous biblical characters who had not only professed but lived out their faith. By faith, Abel and Enoch pleased God, for they believed that God rewards those who seek Him. By faith Noah constructed the ark, for he believed in the unforeseeable saving grace of God. By faith, Abraham left for an unknown land since he believed that God has promised a better place. By faith,
Abraham offered Issac and passed down blessings to generations for they believed that God was sovereign. By faith, Moses abandoned a promising life of wealth and power for he held onto the conviction of the unseen. Therefore, these great witnesses of faith should spur us to strengthen our faith in the path of life.
Where do we start? First, verse 1 says, “let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely.” Let’s imagine this in a race analogy. We could not endure a marathon with large suitcases filled with every possession dragging on the floor; rather, a professional runner should only bring the essentials on the road despite the fact he/she may own other valuables they cherish. If we see our temporary life on earth as a race following Jesus, a run that can end at any moment sovereignly decided by God, what should we bring on the road? This is the time when we examine ourselves whether we have put earthly pleasure and fulfillment before loving God; whether we have such a strong attachment to our earthly possessions that we would not easily give them up when God call us to do so. Furthermore, our focus on our establishment on earth will weigh on our hearts to the extent that exhaust us. When we give in to this tiredness and stopped running the race with the Lord, we give in to the scheme of Satan. Satan wants us to feel anxious when we do not gain anything according to our will, for he hates us to have faith in God’s sovereign plan that is unseen but always true. Thus, to be a “light-packer” in our race, we need to learn the lesson of giving it all to the Lord. This is not a limiting practice in time of emergency; rather, this should be a daily prayer before the business of life kicks in. Are we willing to manifest our faith by praying, “Lord, I give my day to you and I trust in you that whatever may happen my life is in your hand”? A true believer should strive for this continual sanctification through which God will train us to be more faithful as He is faithful.
Faith is a gift from God. Without faith, our life journey would only be more burdensome and nerve-wrecking. However, because we are believers, by faith, we can overcome trials and know that God has it all. It was after the fire fiasco that I grew in faith to lay down more earthly burdens that keep me from focusing on Christ. I invite you to put your faith into practice before facing a trial. Trust in God’s plan in every circumstances, for He who promises is faithful.
Yao Ning 20171210 Sermon Reflection