by Serena Sinclair
In my formative years my secure blanket was the strong faith of my mom and my dad. As a teenager I leaned into the tangibles of religion, attending church services, serving in children’s ministry, going to church camp, being a counselor, volunteering at VBS, and inviting friends to church. These were “good” programs that helped me lock in foundational habits early in life and curb the desire to hang with the popular crowd when I went away to college. Placing membership at a church of my choice, and attending weekly services kept me alert to church events and women’s retreats that became a positive support system for me and kept me from succumbing to a pity party when my predictable life began unraveling. During this time, I became acquainted with a friend, grounded in their beliefs and eager to begin evangelical conversations, the kind that poke holes in one’s theology of “good works.” Until this time, no one had challenged my belief system. On one hand I was intrigued by these conversations, on the other, I was well . . . miffed. What happened? Intrigue won out and I decided to invest in the relationship which included numerous tough discussions concerning faith and doctrine and most importantly, initiated the journey of navigating my own faith. Eventually I made a discovery — there was a gap in my “good works” theology: my relationship with God was centered on doing things for God instead of “being” with God.
Before God calls us to do, He calls us to be. I did not suddenly stumble upon this epiphany, it came gradually with small steps of faith as God placed key bible teachers, and prayer warriors within my path, inviting me into the mystery of an inner life with Him. On this path my hunger for God’s word increased in momentous proportions. As I dug into God’s truth, and shared in discussions with other women, He disclosed His goodness and sovereignty which prompted me to step out and pray bold audacious prayers. Pushing me beyond my comfort zone, God was nudging me to pursue a faith beyond my understanding, one that remains somewhat undefined because a living faith continually breathes and expands to the mission God personalizes for each son and daughter (Ephesians 2:10). Even ten years ago, although I could sense a call to a deeper life of communion, I had no idea a life intertwined with my Creator would lead to becoming a Pastor. This idea was so far outside the realm of my traditional belief system that I believed it to be impossible. I forgot that Jesus was the anomaly of moving outside the boundaries of safe religion.
God’s longing for me to know and experience His sovereignty in new ways is stronger than I may think. He is always available, always waiting for me to run into His presence. Often His Spirit collides with my human will and I must decide whether to live within the safety of my well laid plans or follow Him into the unknown. Sometimes this path remains hidden, and the voice of fear threatens to throw me off course.
When I was barely three my mom exerted great faith by taking me and my baby brother to Macy’s department store in Kansas City. With multiple floors of shopping, elevators offered easy transport between floors. Unfortunately, my three year old belief system did not trust the elevator’s ability to transport me from floor to floor. After my mom repeatedly tried to coax me onto the elevator, I stubbornly refused. Because she could not pick me up and firmly place me on the elevator while holding my brother, I announced that I would take the “safe” route up two flights of stairs which of course, with my little legs took a while. Although my mom must have been apprehensive and frustrated, she patiently waited for me to appear on the third floor.
I picture this scenario much like our heavenly Father must sometimes view His children. He asks us to trust and believe in Him for greater things, feats that are beyond our understanding and seem impossible. He offers us the rooted habits of Scripture, solitude, prayer and serving others, promising to transport us into a deeper life of communion with Him, yet sometimes like a stubborn three year old, we choose an alternative route because our fear decides that trusting God takes too much effort. A living faith demands that I get out of my head, let go, and surrender.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1