When Piper and I moved here to North Carolina in May of 2014, it didn’t take me too long to fall in love with this place. The beautiful countryside, the slower pace of life, and the outgoing friendly people seemed to envelope us and we felt home for the first time since originally leaving California back in 2006. The only disconcerting thing was that I was having a difficult time getting a “lay of the land!”
What I really wanted to procure was a paper map of the area and after weeks of checking out gas stations, AAA and other such locations, I finally came to the conclusion that with the popularity of online map sites, they just don’t make them anymore! When we moved to Oklahoma in 2006 I did not have this problem as I was able to get a couple of detailed street maps of Tulsa and its neighboring suburbs including Broken Arrow where we rented our home. With that map I got an overview of the area and was easily able to visualize the big picture and then figure out locations in reference to our home.
Out here it was different! Sure, I could get maps online but was only able to enlarge the areas in close proximity to where I was attempting to go… with enough visual detail that I could see, read and understand it. And yes, the GPS on my phone was great but listening to a voice saying “Turn right in 100 yards…” doesn’t exactly give you the overall view of where you are and where you want to go!
Now that we’ve been here for almost four years, we have done enough travelling around the area to become fairly comfortable with our surroundings and have a greater understanding of which roads lead to the various points north, south, east and west… and where those areas will eventually lead us, be it to the coast, the sand hills, the triangle (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) or to the mountains.
Over these past years we have spent many hours exploring and enjoying various routes around our new home. I think I now know most of the backroads into town as well as the city streets and landmarks. Many of our trips into town (Fuquay-Varina) are just sort of automatic now! I also find that I enjoy the sights and sounds of the country-agricultural surroundings more since I don’t have to focus so much of my energy on taking the right roads to get where I am going. We’ve traversed the area enough times that I think the car could get us there by itself!
I thought about all of this earlier today as I was studying from James 1:2-3. Here the leader of the church in Jerusalem is telling us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (English Majority Text Version) Verse three is what triggered my thoughts about how I was coming to know the roads around our new home. I especially like the way that The Message Bible puts it saying: “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.”
When I read that, I thought about our own vivid experiences with the way we and others close to us responded to the unfolding of the disease affecting my wife. The idea of our faith-life being forced into the open and displaying its true colors was, to say the least, an eye-opening and shocking experience for us! Through all of this adventure in faith we have seen “the good, the bad and the ugly” in us and in others as we’ve all been forced to expose what’s inside of us in dealing with these traumatic events.
My thought today though, was centered around the question of “What determines your faith-life?” And what immediately came to mind was the answer: “The amount of God’s Word that one has hidden in their heart.” I recalled that Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” I also understand that this verse is not just talking about a haphazard “hearing” of the Word, but by digging into the Word with the expectation of receiving a “rhema”* Word from God specifically for you… AND THEN… by putting your feet to your faith! (See: James 2:14-18)
Through the years Piper and I have learned to “put feet to our faith” in a great variety of situations and circumstances. Each time we have done this it has strengthened our faith and made it easier the next time we needed to step out in a stand on the truth of God’s Word. It is kind of like all those day rides we have taken around our new home in a county we never knew existed a few years ago! (In fact, I didn’t even realize when we purchased this home that it was in a different county than where our apartment was located! But again, it worked out for our benefit as it is much more rural, quiet and has a lower tax structure for its residents!)
Like I stated above, most times when we venture out today, I am more and more comfortable with my surroundings and I’ve also noticed that I am more adventurous in going further from my home-zone to explore new areas and locals!
And you know… I find that the same has been true for our faith adventures. The more we’ve experienced the truth of God’s Word through our stands of faith, the more we are willing and able to step out further into new frontiers of faith. It wasn’t our first time around the block in trusting the Lord for our finances when I quit my position at Home Depot in order to care for my wife 24/7 in 2010.
We’d stepped out enough previous times in order to feel comfortable with where we believed the Lord was leading us. Sure, there were moments of anxiety, but inside we knew… through many other personal examples of His faithfulness… that He would prove His love, faithfulness and truth to prevail for us in this new situation. And… He did… AGAIN!
But it all starts with regular time in His Word. You can’t put feet to your faith if you don’t have the knowledge of His will for you that can only be found in His Word! Remember once again that faith begins where the will of God is known… and the more personal experiences we have with knowing His will and then taking the corresponding actions in order to prove His Word true, the easier it gets!
So, get going! Have some great experiences in His Word this weekend! I can’t wait to hear of your personal faith adventures. Have a wonderful weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What faith adventures am I expecting to experience today?”
*For a review of what a “rhema” Word is, read our blog post from earlier this week (1/29/18) entitled “Pay Attention!” http://pjberruto.blogspot.com/2018/01/pay-attention.html