When we think about faith, we often reach for actions and behaviors — things we can quantify. We create a mental checklist: Have we been going to church? Have we cut back on the drinking? Have we been giving money to the church? Have we been doing our devotions?
We forget that authentic faith — the kind of faith that touches the heart of God — is not rooted in the external. It’s all about what’s happening on the inside.
People with real faith have hearts of good, rich soil. People with real faith surrender to the truth that there is absolutely nothing they can do to please God or maintain right standing before him. People with real faith understand that as they hear and receive the Word of God, the Spirit takes over and changes their hearts. As their hearts change, so do their behaviors. Then what you see on the outside is only a sincere reflection of what is happening on the inside.
A heart broken for Christ
I once thought that satisfaction would come from some external experience. But my greatest moments of victory, my most blissful seasons of peace, my consuming feelings of joy and contentment have never come from a big paycheck, a glass of wine, a beach vacation, a sexual experience, a relationship, or a blazing moment of success. Nor have they come from attending church, being a “good girl,” or serving in ministry. For me, the greatest thrill of my life has always come from the breaking and changing of my heart to look more like Christ.
Perhaps the most victorious moment in my life to date was the true realization that God works in the gut-wrenching valleys of our life. Just as He brought the Israelites in to the wilderness to show them his mercy through manna; so He brings you and I into journeys of wandering through the wilderness to show Himself greater. True joy and overwhelming satisfaction is found there — in the process. In fact, the process is the point of our life all along. For me, I sensed no greater feeling of protection, security, and identity than the moments of heaving and sweating my guts out into a trash can from the previous days chemotherapy treatment; when my heart had no one or nothing else to lean against but the love of Jesus Christ.
Undying faith is found only there — in the broken, bleeding, surrendered places of our hearts. Great faith can only be experienced in a place of absolute dependence on Jesus.
The same can be true for you, no matter your history with faith. Maybe you’ve been a skeptic your whole life; maybe you have danced on the borderlands between doubt and faith for years; maybe you’ve been looked the part of a faithful Christian but haven’t truly jumped in with both feet. Wherever you find yourself, it’s not too late to embrace true faith.