Our actions will define our faith, but our identity comes from God.
Recently our church was blessed with a portable Baptismal that we have been able to utilize and baptize several people that have given their lives to Jesus. I love that as people make a choice to pursue a personal relationship with Christ, they immediately begin to take relevant action according to their new found relationship in order to foster that relationship. Faith has stirred them and their identity begins to take shape. I also know many people that have had an encounter with God and then for some reason, through life, circumstance, trials or pressures, they never chose to pursue God or continue past the place of that initial drawing encounter of the Holy Spirit.
When I was a young man, my father became a believer and chose to serve God. The same couldn’t be said for my mother who was separated from my father, and they eventually were divorced. My Dad in all of his passion for God began to do whatever it took for him to learn God, to know His ways and to encounter all of the amazing things that God had in store for him. This was a powerful time of growth for my father, and I have always admired his faithfulness to the Word and Prayer.
When I had encounters with God at a young age, I believed that I was going to escape my problems because I had prayed a prayer, and my Dad kept me (as best he could) on the straight and narrow when I was with Him, and yet when I lived with my Mother (13 hour drive, then later became a 7 hour drive) that accountability and direction was not there. In fact I had a desire to please God, but I was rarely willing to step out in faith, or take actions to fully let go of my sinful ways. Even more importantly, I wanted to know God, but felt as though my efforts to please God were falling to blind eyes so I began to justify my own poor choices and behaviors that I know went against God’s plan for my life.
It wasn’t until the age of 28 that I encountered the healing power and love of God in my life. This time I realized that I was to take action and do whatever it took to stay faithful, to pursue God and become the man that God had called me to be. I realized that the biggest thing that kept me from knowing God all those years was my fear to step out in faith, and say no to my own desires and to choose to honor God and follow Him with my heart, not just in blind action. Now I know that because I have been willing (not perfect) to honor God in my life, I no longer am trying to determine how to prove my value to God, but I am now recognizing how valuable I have always been to Him.
See what I realized is that my acts of faith express the work that God has done in my heart, and I am not ruled by a task master or heavy-handed universal score keeper. Instead I have a loving and caring Father whose sole desire is to know me, and for me to know Him.
Galatians 4:6-7 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
His desire is the same for each of us. He wants to know you, and for you to know Him. You can begin that conversation where you are at no matter where you have been.
Chris Bassett is the Pastor at Hidden Valley Worship Center. www.hvwc.com