Over the past couple weeks, I've had several tests done to check my heart. I've dealt with an elevated heart rate for several years now, but lately I've been feeling an increase in the number of flip-flops my heart seems to be making each day. While all the tests confirm tachycardia, I've been fortunate that nothing concerning is showing up in the way of defects, blockages or other serious issues. In the midst of going through these physical exams of my heart, I was also doing some heart searching from a spiritual point of view after a new friend asked if I truly believe in God and why.
In Luke 9, Jesus challenged his disciples with two questions: "Who do people say I am?" and "Who do you say I am?" These were the people Jesus had been walking closely with during his time of ministry on this earth. They were doing life with him. They were personally on the receiving end of teaching from the Teacher himself. They were eyewitnesses of miracles that he performed. Even so, they had to decide if Jesus was indeed who he said he was. It wasn't enough for them to go along with what the crowds thought or believed. They each needed to take a stand for what they believed about Jesus.
It is no different for you and me. We are are on the receiving end of the greatest love story ever written. God's thoughts toward us have been recorded and passed down through generations. We are able to read first-hand testimonies to his life, his transfiguration, his death, his resurrection and his ascension. The evidence has been presented, but we have to decide what we're going to do with it. Each of us will be held personally accountable for what we believe. For those who choose to follow Christ, we are told to always be ready to give an answer when we're asked about our faith. (1 Peter 3:15)
So, to get back to my friend's question...I'd like to share some of my response to her question with you. It is with joy and hope that I stand in confidence of my relationship with Jesus Christ.
I am a life that has been changed through my faith in Christ...that is probably the biggest reason for my confidence.
Growing up, I was brought up in the church and learned all the stories in the Bible. But at some point, I needed to choose whether to believe in Christ as my Savior. As a child, it was an easy decision to make. But it wasn't until my late teens and early twenties that I started to grasp more fully the extent of God's grace and experience a more meaningful relationship with him...after making some stupid choices and careless decisions. He is a triune God (meaning Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and when we accept him into our lives, the Holy Spirit breathes his life into us. I know that probably sounds weird, and it's hard to explain. It's the Holy Spirit alive in me that makes me confident in my faith. His presence offers a peace that cannot be explained until you experience it. It is also what guides my thoughts and makes me conscientious in my decisions and actions. When I spend time with him, I can actually hear him talking with me...not in a loud audible way that anyone else can hear, but more in the way of gentle whispers that the soul senses. I think that's pretty cool that the Creator of the universe would want to be in relationship with me.
Jesus Christ walked on this earth as a man and experienced much of what we do in our lives...physical pain, rejection, grief. He understands because He's been there. He endured suffering and death on a cross out of his great love for us and out of his desire to be in relationship with us...regardless of who we are or what we've done in our lives. His grace and forgiveness is a free gift. All we have to do is believe and receive it and love him in return. It is because of his resurrection that I...that we... as believers have hope for the future regardless of what's going on in the world around us.
As a Christian, I still walk through tough stuff. In fact, I have a strong history of depression. I have found much healing through reading the scriptures which reassure me that I have worth and value and significance. Even when I've been at some of my lowest points, I've still been able to feel that I truly am loved by God. His Word is packed with promises toward us. As a family, we have seen some incredible answers to prayer in the midst of medical crises. We have also had times when our prayers were not answered as we would have hoped, but have felt his presence with us through the journey.
I also choose to believe because history has revealed the Bible to be true. Most of the prophecies that were given have already been fulfilled and I truly believe we are living in the days leading up to Christ's return and seeing complete fulfillment of those prophecies.
I was grateful for the chance to share my faith. In fact, I had been praying for opportunities to share and impact others for His kingdom. As I told my friend, it's good for me - for all of us - to reflect on what we believe and why. It reaffirms our faith in the process. It can be easy to take things for granted, but the stakes are too high when dealing with matters of eternity. There's no room to be silent.
As for my physical heart needs, taking a little white pill everyday is all that's needed to keep a slower pace. And for my spiritual heart needs, a daily dose of time in His Word and in His Presence is all that's required to keep me resting firmly in my faith.
"I will give thanks to your name because your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. When I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength I need. "
~ Psalm 138:2b-3 ~
The beauty of His love is that it's for all people...not just a lucky few. In the Christmas story, the angel proclaimed to the shepherds, "Don't be afraid! I bring you good news of great joy for everyone. The Savior - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born tonight in Bethlehem." - Luke chapter 2. In Romans 3, verses 22 -25, we're told, "We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us."