Belief or Trust

Do you have faith? How deep? Does your faith extend beyond your head-knowledge–what you believe to be true–to your full surrender? That’s the Staci headshotmeasuring line, isn’t it? Being able–willing–to stake all we have and all we are on what we claim to believe. Even when everything around us points to the contrary. Today Staci Stallings, author of Cowboy, encourages us to put feet to our beliefs by trusting in–resting in–the Person of God.

Real Faith

Faith is the bedrock of being a Christian. Few people would argue that fact.  However, I recently read something that caused me to go, “Hmm… I never thought about it like that.”

The author of the piece pointed out that faith no longer seems to mean what it once did.  It, like so many other things and words in our society today, has been cheapened.  That cheapening affects not just our understanding of the word but also how we put it into practice in our lives.

There are five definitions for faith on Dictionary.com.  They are:

1. confidence or trust in a person or thing

2. belief that is not based on proof

3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion

4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit

5. a system of religious belief

Our basic problem in Christianity stems from the fact that the world has, in the minds of many, replaced the first definition with the second.

The first definition speaks about “trust.”  The second only speaks about believing in something you cannot see.

Now don’t misunderstand me.  The second is important.  The problem is when we completely supplant it for the first.

Let me offer it this way:  I can believe in God–i.e. believe He exists without trusting Him.

Merely believing that He exists gets us no farther on our faith walk than believing another person exists gets us married.  Yes, that belief in His existence is important, but you can believe God and Christ exist and not experience what Christian living is all about.

Why?

Because the belief in their existence is not what changes your life.  It is only in experiencing and living the first definition of faith that real Christianity and real faith begin to be manifested.

Once I clear the first hurdle of believing in God, the next leap of faith–trusting Him must be made or “Christian life” will feel exactly as “non-Christian life” felt.  It will still be all up to me.  I will continue to try to self-effort myself through life.

You see these types of Christians all the time.  They work and they do and they serve.  They are in the choir and on the finance counsel.  They run from church meeting to church meeting.  If they aren’t exhausted yet, they soon will be.

I know.  I was one of those Christians.

It was only when God allowed my self-effort to prove to me how futile it was that I went seeking for another answer, and the Answer I found was in the first definition–in fully trusting God.  It was only when I began to fully trust God and Christ and stop relying on myself that I found what I had been searching for the whole time:  A victorious Christian walk etched in grace and forgiveness and love.

When I put that first definition into practice, I found that it really is as easy as just letting God love me and then giving that love to others.

It was only when I found real faith, rooted in the FIRST definition of faith that my life began to have meaning and peace and hope.  I believe that life is offered to everyone, just don’t fall for the trap that believing in God’s existence is enough.  You must take that second (albeit scary) step of fully trusting Him in every aspect of your life to experience the incredible freedom that God can in your spirit, your world, and your life.

Copyright Staci Stallings, 2012

Cowboy coverStaci’s novel, Cowboy:

Life has done its best to knock Beth McCasland to the ground, and the truth is: it’s done a pretty good job of keeping her there. Stuck in a minimum-wage job with a young daughter counting on her, Beth does her best to stay standing under the weight of it all because she knows God is on her side. Then one night she gets the chance to be an angel to another of life’s weary travelers. For once hope has never looked so real.

Cowboy is a grace-filled story about the power of giving everything to God and how a simple act of compassion can change lives forever. Emotional, soothing, and heart-wrenching, Cowboy is infused with the message that no matter who we are and no matter what life has thrown at us, we never have to walk alone.

A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings is now a #1 Best Selling author in Christian Romance at Amazon.  She has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure!  That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading.  Staci touches the lives of people across the globe every week with her various Internet endeavors including:

 

Spirit Light Books–The Blog
http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com/

God’s Timing

Patience is not my strong point. I like to do, to know I’m moving forward, making progress, which makes waiting on God especially difficult. I often tell Him I’d do better if He’d give me a hint of His future plans. Or better yet, a point-by-point memo. In leu of that, a neon sign would be great. And yet, despite my snivelling, God continues to lead me step by step, teaching me not only how to do His will, but more importantly, to trust in Him. Today’s post, by Staci Stallings, reminds us silence isn’t necessarily a no.

God’s Timing By:  Staci Stallings

I recently shared this on a writer’s loop I’m on, but after re-reading decided to share it here as well…

I think that this is absolutely the best thing I have learned in my writing journey:  God is faithful all the time.  Trust Him, and He will lead you in every moment EXACTLY where you are supposed to be in that moment.  You may not know it or see it or understand it, but when you look back, you will see the fine and perfect tapestry He’s been weaving the whole time.

For me, this lesson comes in several ways (some more fun than others).

#1 The YES times!  This would be the moments when it all makes sense, when I see God at work most clearly, when the perfection of His Will and what He’s doing is not just a glimmer but a full-on, turn the spotlights on moment.  The completion of a book I didn’t know how to finish.  The right person showing up at just the right time.  That flash of understanding when you just KNOW how a story all ties together.  I’ve had all of these and so many more.

#2  The NO moments.  I heard a story one day about two little boys who came into their father’s house with a box.  As they headed to the basement, their father stopped them to see what was in the box.  It was their new project:  two snakes!  Guess what the father said?  NO!  Well, just like those boys sometimes my Dad tells me no, and most of the time I’m just as disappointed as they were.  But the truth is when God tells me no, I see it now as His way of keeping me from doing something that would ultimately hurt me–like putting snakes in my basement.  “No” might be a contact I thought I needed falling through.  It might be a path I thought was going to be great not working out.  It might be MY agenda not working out like I’d planned.  Do “no” moments make me frustrated?  Yes.  They do.  But when I can breathe and remember that God’s got my BEST in mind–not just a momentary good but an eternity good, I can let go of my way and grab onto His.  And He has shown me over and over again how awesome things work out when I do that.

#3  The NOT YET moments.  Oh, have there been a lot of these!  I tend to want to force things to go my way.  I get in a hurry for them to be done and get frustrated with myself when I can’t do everything.  But God my AWESOME FATHER uses “not yet” a lot–both to bring about His perfect timing and to teach me to not rely on my plans, my agenda, myself but to always rely on Him.  I get a lot of “not yet” moments when I’m writing.  I get going on something and then something else comes up (I have a lot of something elses around here!).  I get stopped on the story.  And I get frustrated with it.  One story I literally did this for SEVEN YEARS!  But when the book was finally finished, I understood why God said, “Not yet” repeatedly… because the book could not have been the book it is without the lessons I’d learned over those seven years.  I was a different person than I had been when I started writing it.  So now, not yet moments don’t throw me like they used to.  It’s okay.  God’s got this one too!

#4  The GO THROUGH IT WITH ME moments.  These, I have to say, are the hardest.  Some call them the valleys of life and of writing.  Oh, these are HARD!  And when they come up, my heart breaks, my world shatters, and I wonder “How can God make something good out of THIS?”  But I will tell you, the two most difficult “go through it with Me” moments of my writing career brought two of my best friends into my life.  One of them, not knowing me at all, edited two chapters I had sent out through my newsletter.  She bled on them and then sent them back to me!  I didn’t know what to do with that.  Should I be angry?  Should I write her back and give her a piece of my mind?  Should I be hurt?  Should I quit?  Finally, I decided to rest in God and just see…  The next month I sent out the next two chapters of my cyber-serial.  In about 30 minutes I got this message back.  “OH!  I’m SOOOOOOOO sorry!  I thought those were from my critique group!  I’m new to all of this and I edited the wrong thing…”  hahahah!  I still laugh about that.  Deb, not quite as much, though she can laugh now but it took her a long time to get to that point.  The thing is, Satan threw that at both of us to take us both out.  He wanted to undermine my following God and He wanted to take her out altogether.  Because I let GOD handle it and not myself, we became best friends, and God has worked miracles through that relationship.  I helped her with editing.  She’s now a multi-published author.  God is awesome!

A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. (Pick up the Price of Silence now for only $0.99! http://www.amazon.com/The-Price-of-Silence-ebook/dp/B004E9U7P6.) Not content to stay in one genre, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again.  Every title is a new adventure!  That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading.  She lives in Amarillo, Texas with her family and on the internet at http://www.stacistallings.com. Find out more about her books at http://stacistallings.wordpress.com and http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com.