Encouraging Word

(This was written yesterday… feelin’ a bit better now)

Years ago a man taught us something that stayed with me until this very day.

As I type it’s raining at Chicago’s lakefront and I find myself enjoying my hoodie sitting in one of my favorite spots- warm, indoor and with a good cup of black coffee. And I’m sick. Coughing. Argggh. And this phrase which came via a friend many years in the past popped up in my mind:

“If it’s not of faith, hope or love it’s not of God”.

Now on the surface- and depending on how one interprets that sentence, you could get the wrong idea. For instance, positive thinking fixes everything. It of course, does not. Or you might decide “Wow, cheap and easy ‘believeism’, just think UP and the downs all just disappear?!!” Of course they don’t.

God doesn’t simply run about doing our will, nor always in our timing even when He does indeed answer our prayers. Do I have faith? Absolutely. What I try to keep at bay is foolishness that I can demand MY will be done and expect my will is always His. It apparently (sometimes not so apparently) just isn’t.

Encouraged yet? I’m joking, hang in here in moment. Yesterday it was sunny and 74f in Chicago, right now 43, feels like 31 and the wind is blowing off of Lake Michigan out of the North East at 12 with 19mph gusts. Whew.

Wendi my very best/amazing friend and wife has shared her cough and runny nose with me 🙂 So I am going to finish this blog, eat lunch, bring her hers (she is sleeping in today, I got up early to hang out with a college group) pray and take meds, grease my chest and sleeeeep!

Faith- trust in Him, the peace that PASSES understanding, that goes far beyond our ability to comprehend (“His ways are PAST finding out…”) and of course the knowledge that regardless of the “it”, the “this”, this too shall pass.

Hope- without faith we are “without hope and without God in the world” even though “For in Him we live and move and have our being…”. A “blessed hope” to those who seek and follow the risen Christ.

Love- there aren’t enough words for this. “God IS love”- and though “in the world you shall have tribulation…” even the reality of “WHEN the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house…” not “if” but “when” -YOU AND I ARE LOVED BY THE PERSON WHO IS THE SOURCE OF LOVE ITSELF.

Now if one chooses to dump faith and therefore hope, I suspect love is also outside the door.

“I stand at the door and knock. IF any one will open the door I will come in and eat with them”. Guess Who’s payin’ for lunch?

This is a broken world, we imperfect creatures have been planted in it, we have free will and possibilities to build up or tear down, to walk in faith or in fear, rage, angst and an OBVIOUS (!!!) lack of personal deity. Again and again it is certain we are NOT God.

So I come to this whether or not the bro who taught us this meant it or not:

The Father sent His Son, His Spirit, The Three are indeed One- the mysteries will one day be revealed but we live in the not yet, in the shadows, in the sinful no-boundaries world where suffering, pain, tears and death still operate.

According to scripture -to Jesus and the writers of the Testaments, these things shall also pass away “and be no more”.

Meanwhile Paul wrote the believers in Corinth :”These three REMAIN (abide, continue, live on regardless…) faith, hope and love.”

I am convinced Jesus is The Source of all 3 of these. Being a friend, a soul-mate, a follower of my Lord and Savior makes all the difference on a cold, rainy day… coughing and nose running.

There is PLENTY in this world that is “not of God”. But these three remain eternally because they are part of a revelation of Who our God truly is and what He does as well as produces in us if we’ll open the door.

I might argue a fine point as to whether faith as we think of it now will remain a continuum after those who believed, loved and served Him are in His immediate presence but that’s a fine hair not needful at this point. Example- after the ceremony and nearly 45 years of daily sharing marriage with Wendi I don’t have to “have faith” that we are truly married!

But for now, in this world-I do believe if it’s not of faith, hope or love, I don’t know that God and the peace of God is in our immediate thoughts or experience- and that’s as tragic. Yet it is a tragedy with remedy. IF… if we open the door to Him and live in daily relationship.

Prayer, scripture study, asking, seeking, knocking, following in faith regardless of circumstances has kept me close and closer over my lifetime with Jesus. Hanging out with stable, thoughtful, loving Christ-followers has been massively important in this trek. Not “pie in the sky” and “boo-boo” free journeying, but tried, true, ongoing relational faith in the Risen Christ.

Again, a major help in this for me has been close relationships with people whose lives have taught me more about faith, hope and love than I ever imagined I’d experience. But it meant and means surrender at every level to The Three Who are One.

May you be encouraged today- regardless.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

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