Stepping out on faith

I’m starting to feel my age more every day. I’ll be forty-four this year and each week it feels like something different is hurting or about to fall off my body. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but only by a little. Yesterday I experienced an unexpected cramp, pinched nerve, or muscle pull in my right hip. I was off from work and was planning to go for a walk in my neighborhood to enjoy the beautiful day, but soon realized it hurt to move, it hurt to sit, and it hurt to walk, so I ended up laying on my bed most of the day. This thing caused pain that seemed to spread to the surrounding areas throughout the day and had me in tears. I just wanted relief. I really wanted the pain to go away quickly because I had plans to go to a local festival today and knew that would require a lot of walking. Last night before bed, I prayed that the pain would go away and that I would be able to walk with no problems today. This morning, I woke up fine, but when I walked to the bathroom, I felt the same pain again. I came back and sat on my bed and felt the same pain. I thought about my prayer last night and wondered what went wrong. I mean, God is faithful, right? So why is my hip still aching? I’m of the belief that if I pray about it earnestly, God will do it. He’s done it before so why not now? As I was asking Him that, I heard the Holy Spirit say, did you really believe God would do it? Was there any doubt when you prayed? Mark 11:24 reads, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” I thought about it and realized that I didn’t pray like I believed He’d actually do it. I was just hoping He’d do it. Then I chastised myself for my lack of faith and prayed again, this time with the understanding that as His daughter, He would not fail me. The pain didn’t go away immediately, but the Holy Spirit told me not to worry about it and to just start walking, so I did. I literally stepped out on faith. When I walked downstairs in my apartment building to trade my slippers for my shoes (Japanese residence, remember) I felt pain, but I kept going. When I sat down to put on my sneakers I cried in pain, but I kept going. When I lifted each leg closer to tie up the laces I cried in pain, but I kept going. By the time I’d left my apartment building and started walking, I’d forgotten all about the pain. Within two blocks of my walk to the train station, which is about 1.5 km from my apartment, the pain was gone. It was if it were never there. In fact, I didn’t even think about it again until I sat down on the train and realized there was no pain when I sat. Yes! Another win for faith. Another win for God. God is awesome.

I was going through my journal today when I came upon this entry about faith dated July 15, 2015, which reminded me that I shouldn’t be surprised at God’s faithfulness towards me. It’s not new:

“It is now July and I have been living and working in Tokyo for about two months. I really like it here. I can’t tell if I like it so much because I genuinely want to be here or because this promise has come to fruition. Either way, I’m in a good place.

The one major thing this journey has taught me is about my faith in God. He has truly shown me how important it is to have faith and to remain faithful. He has demonstrated to me that His promises are fulfilled on the backs of faith. Each time I step out on faith, He rewards me.”

Faith works people. The promise I was talking about here was getting what I’d prayed for, a prayer which was the result of a desire God placed within me. In one week, I will have been here for a full year and I still feel the same. I still feel the fullness of God’s faithfulness towards me and I still feel an equally longstanding faithfulness towards Him.

There’s a song I love called, He’s Able. In this song is the lyric, “Don’t give up on God, ’cause He won’t give up on you. He’s able.” To put a finer point on it, 2 Timothy 2:13 reads, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” Even when we fail Him, He will never fail us, because he can’t. That alone should give us the encouragement to always remain faithful to Him. It doesn’t really cost us much and doesn’t take much effort. Jesus said all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed. I recall one Sunday being in church when my pastor preached on faith. To illustrate his point, he brought in a wheel barrow full of mustard seeds and each one of us was invited down to get as many as we felt we needed. I grabbed a few and was in awe at how small they really were. That really impacted me, so I went home that day and printed out the scripture from Matthew 17 that I referred to above about the mustard seed and taped the seed to the paper. I posted it on the mirror in my bathroom and left another copy inside my bible as constant reminders about faith.

How big is a mustard seed?
Look at this dot “.” There you go. That’s all you need.


The Light of the World

God is wonderful and amazing. Every day I meet people who are not of the same belief system and each day, God shows me a little more of Himself through them or perhaps because of them. This last Monday was a national holiday here in Japan. Although I’m always off on Mondays, most everyone else was, too. As a result, two Japanese friends invited me to take a tour of Kamakura that day. I didn’t even think twice. I’d been wanting to go and was planning to go by myself but I’m glad they invited me. I knew that Kamakura was a place full of temples and shrines dedicated to other gods but I still wanted to visit. I never thought I shouldn’t go or doubted my reasons for going. I went because I wanted to see and experience. Thinking back now, I am reminded that God gives us the desires of our heart.

As we walked through Kamakura, my companions went in to each temple or shrine to give offering, pray, bow, and/or clap, whatever was appropriate. This portion of the temple was open to the public. It wasn’t located deep inside the building but just a few feet within to give the many people immediate access and I’m sure to keep the flow of traffic moving. I walked into each temple and shrine but stood to the side respectfully while they worshiped.

When I went to Kamakura, it never occurred to me, being a Christian, that there would be an issue of my going there. In fact, I felt nothing but peace in my spirit the whole time. I expected there would be some unrest because of my surroundings, but there wasn’t, which I thought was a bit odd. Thinking back, I shouldn’t have wondered about that because I did pray the night before to ask the Lord for protection while I was there. In fact, I recall specifically asking the Lord to blind the eyes of the unclean spirits there so that they wouldn’t see me, torment me, or attach themselves to me in any way. God has demonstrated His ability to do this many times in the Bible, so why wouldn’t He do this for me? Well, apparently He did. I felt so much peace while I was there that I was in no doubt that the Lord was with me the entire time.

It wasn’t until after I returned and posted pictures on Facebook that thoughts began to come that maybe I shouldn’t have gone or maybe I shouldn’t have taken pictures or maybe I shouldn’t have posted the pictures I took. I started to feel like I was being judged because the people who normally comment on my pictures didn’t comment on these. All of these thoughts came to mind, but were soon dismissed. I remembered in Jesse Duplantis’ sermon how he said to “doubt the doubts” when they come to mind. This confuses the enemy and eliminates the doubts. The Lord reminded me that I go where He wants me to go, even if others don’t understand. When I started doubting the doubts, they went away.  I don’t know why the Lord put it in my heart to want to go there, but He did and I did. Obedience. The interesting thing about darkness is that it will stay dark until light shines there. Darkness does not go searching for light. Jesus knew that.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12

Father, thank you for being the Almighty God that you are. Knowing that it is the things we cannot see that we are battling, we are blessed to have you as our protector and guide. Thank you for never letting us down and for always being the answer to the question we didn’t know to ask and the need we didn’t know needed to be fulfilled. We know that we can never repay you, but we can honor you and worship you and we do. In Jesus’ name, amen.