Donna and I have both had to walk through a rebuilding of our faith. Our former definition of faith was something like, “believing that God will do anything you direct him to do because you are his favorite person.” Ummm… not exactly… The Scriptures are always quite clear that we are to be seekers of God’s will and not ours—because His plan is better, even when it looks like his plan stinks!
This isn’t a theological discussion, it is about our lives and the way we’ve grown to be at peace with something that we cannot fully understand. God is who he is, he is “I AM.” We, as the creation and not the creator, do not have the prerogative to create God in our own image, but it is ours to open our lives up to him that we may know him, as much as God is knowable, for who he is.
Some believe faith is based solely on the statement of scripture. Our experiences must be discounted in favor of scripture. If scripture says God performs miracles, then he does whether or not we ever actually see a miracle.
Others say faith is experientially based. While honoring scripture as our “all sufficient rule for faith and conduct,” our experience proves God’s miraculous ability. A person with a testimony is more influential than someone with merely an intellectual argument. A weakness of experiential thinking comes when our experiences do not jibe with our belief or knowledge. When we believe that God can perform a miracle, say… a healing, and he does not, then our experience informs us that God does not perform miracles.
Some others say that God performs miracles according to our faith, and when we ask without result the “fault” lies with us because we were not faithful enough, prayerful enough, or good enough. We didn’t pray the right way.
Yep, Donna and I have waded through all of that stuff. We’ve been on a journey of rediscovery and trust. As a result, our faith has grown to previously unknown levels. Now, rather than basing my faith on my own strength, ability, intellect, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, education, etc., my faith is based upon a simple trust in God, as it should have been all along.
I have come to think of faith on four practical levels.
Level One Faith: A Belief that God CAN Do the Miraculous
Both Donna and I grappled with faith questions as we navigated the disappointment of grief. I never deeply doubted that God could do anything, but I wasn’t sure he WOULD do the miraculous. A level one faith questions whether or not God is active on this earth. We observe pain and suffering in this world and we pose temporal explanations for the seemingly miraculous. We believe God can, but will he?
Level Two Faith: A Belief that God DOES do the Miraculous
The testimony of Scripture, the testimony of people we trust, and our own personal observations and recollections reinforce that God does do mighty things. At level two, a doubt remains as to whether or not God will move on our behalf, because we may not deserve it, but God does do miraculous things.
Level Three Faith: A Belief that God will do the Miraculous In and For Me
This has been a journey of trust. I do not know why God chooses to release his power to miraculously heal a dying person in one instance and withholds the power in another instance. I can think of a hundred reasons why he might, but I choose to make it simple—I choose to walk faithfully with God and trust him. A level three faith brings me to the place of daring to believe that not only can God do great things, and not only does he do great things, but he does great things in my life. We will not understand everything, but God is motivated by love toward us.
This third level of faith requires trust. What I see or don’t see may trouble me, but when I place my trust in God, my perspectives change and my faith stabilizes.
Level Four Faith: A Belief that God will do the Miraculous Through Me
God and I are still working on the perfecting of a level four faith in me. A level four faith is NOT about seeking the miraculous, it is about being the miraculous. It is about being an instrument in God’s hands and participating in the simple yet miraculous transformation in the world around us.
Level four faith is living in the belief that God accepts me; he actually likes me, even when I do not. He is gracious and merciful. Discovery of a level four faith opens huge doors of opportunity, because it is only when I believe, truly believe that not only will God do great things, he calls us to participate in his divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). A level four faith requires obedient trust in God.
Donna and I want you to know that when you are shaken you don’t have to be destroyed. God really does work through the tough stuff to prove himself faithful. When you’re feeling beat up, challenged, hurt, or disillusioned, dare to believe that when we trust and grow in our faith we discover that…
… God CAN do mighty things,
… God DOES do mighty things,
… God will do mighty things in your life,
… and God will do mighty things through your life so you can realize his purpose and plan for your life.