Prayer is an action. Do you know what else is? Your actions. As the daughter of missionaries, my life in some ways has been quite unusual. There are times I have wished I fit in easier with my own culture, my peers, wished I was not so out of the box. Some days I would very much like to be in the box. Recently, someone awesome explained their theory that in order to be adventuresome enough to make bold moves, the people who settled the Pacific Northwest had to break from traditional society. It totally explained why this place is full of nontraditional people (those I affectionately call weirdos) and why I’ve felt so much at home here — because I’m a weirdo too. And the Bible is full of us!
Our tolerance for the strange has increased exponentially but imagine how hard it must have been for Noah, Abraham, Ruth, people who broke with tradition because God asked them to in times when this was seen as rebellious, scandalous, and worse. And wow did God ask them to do some very bizarre things (just ask Isaiah about the three years he spent naked). Think of Christ himself! A carpenter’s son who roamed around, supported in part by rich widows, claiming to be the son of God.
I like to imagine Joseph and Mary had perfectly traditional neighbors who just couldn’t understand why their adult son didn’t get a job, find a nice woman, and settle down. Think of it! The Saviour of our eternal souls as a disappointment to someone because he didn’t fit in, didn’t have the things of his peers or meet the cultural expectations because he came to change culture. He took action. But Jesus was fully God and fully man. The Apostles were just human. Like us.
There is one thing I know in this world and it’s that I’m a human first and a Christian second. If I was a Christian first, why would I need a Saviour? In much the same way, the The Apostles were just ordinary human beings. Flawed, doubtful, yet obedient and courageous. I’m sure it must have seemed very strange to their friends and neighbors, hanging around with this guy claiming to be the Messiah. But look at what they did! There were deeply personal actions like stepping out onto the water, supernatural actions, sacrificial actions, tenacious actions. Faith wasn’t something to simply be studied, it was something to do.
There’s a reason for every story. We can see ourselves in these apostles. Within each of their lives were choices to learn, to work, follow, betray, believe. Their record is for our reflection as we need not compare our lives to anything but Christ’s. Through that perspective we can see how the choices we make lead us into the actions of God’s will. Things dont just happen, we choose them.
Even Christ in Gethsemane asked God if there was another way, but there was not. As a writer, oh do I understand this! To give a character what they want isn’t a story, it’s just a scene. A story is in how they come to have their needs met. It takes action, requires risk, which in turn creates growth. Growth is the difference between what should be and what is and it begins with a choice. In this case, the choice to love anyway. Our reunion with God was only possible through the action of sacrifice and if He were to have given Christ exactly what he wanted, God could not have given us what we needed.
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
So too do our actions come through choices, require risk, and reward with growth. Faith is a doing thing. Ultimately, God your creator has invited you to participate in the very purpose of your being — to exercise your free will. To love anyway, create health in your thought life, and strengthen your relationship with Him. With such stakes, the real question is can you afford not to risk?
As God only does good, we must question if the things we risk are not something we could afford to be without and perhaps, even be blessed for having sacrificed.