When I was an atheist, I thought Christianity was primarily a system of rules for good behavior. To me, Christianity was mostly about going to church and reading the Bible and not cussing or sleeping around. And I’m afraid that I thought that because so many of the Christians I met thought that.
Now, I understand that Christianity is actually a religion of faith, believing that God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him, believing that Jesus Christ is Almighty God taking on human flesh and dying in my place, believing that the Holy Spirit really does live in me and guide me in all truth. And this faith leads me to obey God and follow the rules that He has laid out in the scriptures, trusting that these rules are for my good and ultimately for the glory of God who made me and cares for me.
But, my Christian faith doesn’t stop at just believing in the triune God and His revealed Word.
My Christian faith leads me to follow God wherever He leads me, even if that means a trip halfway around the world to stay with people that I’ve never met before (or even spoken with over the phone).
A year and a half ago, I started teaching English online to students in China. This led to chatting online with several of my students’ mothers. This led to having a new Chinese “little sister,” a 30-something nurse with one elementary-school-aged son. This led to ever-deepening conversations about parenting and patience and life as a working wife and mother. This led to a presentation of the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus which led to a new life in Christ for someone who (for all intents and purposes) was still a stranger to me.
When my husband and I began considering a visit to China, my heart was cold toward all things “vacation related.” I dreaded the flight and the jet lag. I dreaded the crowds of people and the air pollution. I dreaded sore feet and sickness. I dreaded chicken feet and pig ears.
And yet, I had God’s perfect peace and genuine excitement about this step of faith. I wholeheartedly believed that God had opened this door for us and that we were supposed to walk through it. I truly wanted for my little sister’s good. Even if all of the circumstances truly were as bad as I feared, I still wanted to go because I knew it was what God wanted me to do.
So we went.
In so many ways, our trip to China was exactly what I expected. But in so many other ways, it was nothing like I expected. The flight was long and the crowds were horrible. My feet were sore and the pig ears were gross. Communication difficulties were real and we weren’t able to chat as much as I wished. (Did I mention that my Chinese sister and I communicate through translation software?)
But, through it all, God has grown my faith. God has shown me that He is unquestionably the sovereign sustainer of my life. He is the lifter of my head. He is the giver of every good gift. He is my refuge and strength.
God sees me in China and God sees my children back home. God loves the people of China and God loves me. And I’d do it all again.
So, this morning as I was working on a passage I’m memorizing, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4, I saw how sometimes the testing of my faith isn’t just in going through cancer or baby loss or difficult parenting situations. Sometimes the testing of my faith means to take that next step of faith, like starting a new job or flying to China. This time I think testing of my faith looked more like Abraham who “obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8)
Is there something God is calling you to do that feels scary? How is God growing your faith as you step out into the unknown, being daughters of Sarah, choosing to “not fear anything that is frightening?” (1 Peter 3:6b) I’d love to walk this road with you. How can I pray for you?
I’d love to walk this road with you. How can I pray for you?