The week we remember Christ’s path to the cross.
The crowds watching him walk…mixed in their belief. And for those who had decided they believed He was the Messiah–well…crap–if He is the King–why doesn’t He do something??? Why doesn’t He stop it all here??? Why doesn’t He reveal His power and put all this evil in it’s place???
For those who believed. This may have been their crisis of faith.
Where the rubber meets the road.
Where they are faced with–DO I REALLY BELIEVE WHAT I BELIEVE?
Maybe you have been here.
When your daughter got diagnosed with cancer and you had to make the agonizing decision whether to save her leg or up the chances that would better guarantee the cancer would be gone.
When you kissed your father’s cheek goodbye much earlier than you ever thought you would–and the only Grandpa your children ever know are through pictures–and the stories you tell every night before you turn off their lights.
Or maybe your crisis was the church…sin in the church–or hurtful things spoken–God, really–would you allow this to happen in your most prized bride…the church?
God–I believe you are God…right? Why don’t you just stop it RIGHT here?? Why don’t you do something??
You prayed for God to take this from you. A crisis of faith. And then a miracle happened. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
For me–my crisis came when I was 22. I lived in Asia. And I had gone over to share Christ as a missionary to a world of communism. I knew we had to be secretive–I knew we had to be careful. But what I didn’t realize was how my faith was really about to be rocked. How I had easily believed Jesus was who He says He is…until this. (I still believed–yet this time–there was no easy in it.)
Names are changed to protect identity and safety of this most precious believer.
I don’t remember exactly how we met. But I had entered her same college as a law student to cover up my real call as a missionary. I asked her to tea–and from there–began one of the sweetest friendships I think I will ever have on this earth. Hanan’s English was impeccable–along with many of the other students at the university as it was a top law university in the area. While quite serious in personality at first–as we got to know one another…I began to see her sweet child-like silly personality (much like mine)…a kindred-spirit of mine for sure–and truly a gift to me in my year overseas.
Hanan was top in her class. She roomed in the dormitory with the other leaders in her class–and they were all candidates and bound for positions in the communist party in the government. At first–I was afraid to share my faith with her. What if she tells on me? What if I’m sent home? Yet–I knew the Lord had taken me across the world for a time such as this–for His name to be known…and we were at a point in our friendship that I almost felt deceptive not telling her the real reason I was there–to share the gospel.
She had told me that she didn’t believe in God–and only believed in herself…and she thought maybe there were gods that looked after her if she was good. And as weeks and months passed–I shared more of what I believed–and who this Jesus…this Son of God…who my King was. Oh how I believed! How excited I was to share! With passion! With joy! This–she could have too! Oh how glorious!
The wished and prayed for day came when she accepted Christ as her Savior. And oh my–there was no doubt that this was a daughter of the King and that the Holy Spirit was alive and well in this girl as she had a THIRST for His Word and more of Him. She wanted to meet daily–and learn more. She came from a family of four–where she had 2 parents and an older brother–and with an upcoming holiday…she told me she had a plan. She wanted to share the gospel with them. And for me…fear crept in…I looked at Henan like she was crazy…
Are you SURE? Are you sure you want to do this???
In Hanan’s country–this isn’t like sharing your new found faith here. It could mean being excommunicated from her family–being cut off and having to drop out of school…it could mean a lot of things. I wasn’t sure if she really understood–and I needed to tell her.
Are you really prepared to lose everything? Are you willing to sacrifice it all? Do you know what this really means? We have seen this happen to others–you may not have Henan–but we have–are you sure you want to share when you are so new in your faith?
He gave up His life for me. There is nothing I would not do for Him–and for others to know Him too.
For me–to see this passion–reignited a passion in my own heart. The prayers for Hanan and her desire and heart to share the gospel began–with me and all my friends back home. For almost a month she would be gone on winter holiday. Would she return? Would it be good? What would happen?
I’ll never forget the pounding on my door when she returned.
I’ll never forget her most beautiful accent–it still rings in the back of my memory like any moment that while it’s happening you know it’s forever recorded…one that you will play over and over and over. I can just close my eyes and hear her accent now…
“Andrea! Andrea! You will not believe! We have a new brother! My brother knows Him! He believes! My parents–they do not yet. But they are okay with it for me and my brother. And they want to know more! We have a new brother–can you believe it? Our King is so good! We must celebrate His goodness!”
Oh the memories that followed for us in the weeks and months ahead. Singing praise songs together by guitar. Going shopping together. She even made me go to a photography studio, and we had professional pictures made–because she said this is what sisters do;). We laughed–we cried–and I even taught her how to interpretive dance to the Backstreet Boys–who were popular at the time.
And then–it came…
My crisis of faith.
It was early. Still dark out. And that same pounding on my apartment door. But this time–the words were not that of excitement…nor shouting of praise–but instead whispers.
“Andrea. I have come to say good-bye. I must go quickly. I shared Jesus with the girls in my dormitory–and they have told the leaders here. It is not good. And I must go. I will be going to another school. I will not be a leader in the government now like I had dreamed. But it is okay. I must leave in a hurry. But I wanted you to know so you would not worry about me. It is because of Jesus–and my faith. It is okay! I will never stop believing no matter what they do or say. I will keep sharing the gospel no matter what. He is real–I know He is real…and I love you my sweet sister in Christ.”
I’m so sorry. I’m just so sorry.
“What are you sorry about? You have nothing to be sorry about! Now–I have everything!”
And like that–she was gone.
It was the last conversation I ever had with Hanan.
And I can still hear her accent…her sweet voice. I have VHS tape full of us being silly and singing and sharing our hearts–all made for me to send back to my family in America…but now it’s just for me–to remember.
I went over to my futon couch–and sat there. Okay. REALLY? THIS is what I came to do? LORD–I feel like I just helped ruin this girl’s future. Her life. Everything she has worked for–for her entire life–now…gone. Thanks to me. WHAT IN THE HECK AM I DOING HERE? Is this really worth dying for? Is this really how I want to spend my life? Oh my gosh–WHAT just happened?
This was my first–and my last–crisis of faith.
Do I really believe what I say I believe?
And there–on the road to Calvary–they stood there…watching. WHAT IN THE HECK IS HAPPENING??? Is this really worth dying for? If He is really King–why doesn’t He do something?
Lemme tell you why.
Because–this life. It’s not about us. But about HIS GLORY.
“Why live for HIS GLORY–when it can result in difficulty here?” some ask.
Jesus told his followers in John 16:33 that this wouldn’t be easy. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
I have to tell you–Hanan–she got it. When you experience the love, goodness and grace of the Savior–the Holy Spirit does a transformation in your heart–where you now know that God is God–and living for Him is worth it…worth the loss, worth the trials or worth the persecution. With the Lord–every problem that comes your way–not only is He with you–but as He is glorified, you actually experience some of that supernatural glory making the difficulty a joyous, refining, beautiful, holy and redemptive experience. Hanan had experienced His glory–and she knew…that He was worth everything.
So on that road to Calvary–some of those in their crisis of faith…well, they sadly turned away. They walked to their homes. They lit their fires. And they shook their heads. And as a result–they missed it. Anyone can say they believe in Jesus and God…the Word of God says even the demons believe that much.
And others–they continued to follow.
While they cried out–like many of you have in your own crisis of Faith–TAKE THIS CUP FROM ME…BUT THY WILL BE DONE–and they followed the Messiah to the cross…to see the greatest and miraculous life-changing event that ever happened in history–our sins…nailed to the cross. No longer would lambs without blemish need to be sacrificed at the temple–because the Lamb of God Himself–in all His perfection and glory–was becoming the sin offering for all of us. The curtain of the Holy of Holies was torn in two–and no longer would the priest be the one to go to God for us…but rather we could step onto holy ground ourselves and come to the Father whenever…however…where ever.
For some–their crisis of faith might have happened when they saw Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus take Jesus’s lifeless body from the cross. Maybe they were waiting for something to happen…for Him to spring back to life before His being taken to the tomb. Certainly–it all just felt too late seeing the rock cover the tomb. Certainly for some–this was their crisis of faith—where the rubber meets the road—where a real crisis happens in your faith and you are faced with, “Do I really trust you? Even if this doesn’t end like I wanted to–will I still raise my hands and worship? Because I know you. You are who you say you are–and you are good.”
And for me–losing Hanan. This is where my real radical begins. This is where and when I saw Jesus for real…and this is where my true journey of faith began. Before–it was all much too easy…going to church on Sunday…leading the mission friends classes…discipling kids about when not to date and how to wisely chose this or that…having quite time to peaceful music. All good things. But Hanan’s radical faith–and true belief in the King of Kings–marks for me when my faith became something I, too, would die for…without any doubt. Decisions would forever be made differently–and saying Yes to the Lord–would be between me and the Lord (and my future spouse) and all opinions and comments and distractions…would be carefully folded and put away in their proper places–considered, prayed for–but no longer something that would be wrestled with. Because I knew my Savior’s voice–but now I wanted to follow this voice no matter what.
My prayer for you–whoever has stumbled across this random blog of mine today…this week…is that as you walk this Passion Week…standing in the crowds of Calvary Road–that you will truly begin to see Him, know Him and also–hear His voice. I pray that when and how your crisis of faith one day comes–that you will hear His voice louder than any other–and that no doubt after you fall…in desperation…in tears…in disbelief…that you will still in the quiet hear His voice–and trust Him. I pray that like Hanan–when someone looks at you and says, “I’m so sorry”—that you will be able to look that person straight in the eye and say as she did, “What are you sorry about? You have nothing to be sorry about! Now–I have everything!” too.
I can’t walk that crisis of faith with or for you—but I can promise you this…HE IS WORTH IT. He is good. And He will never leave you. Starting a journey of trusting Him doesn’t have to be formal or complicated–it can begin just with simple and real conversations…your asking questions–and starting to just read His word (my favorites to start in are the books of John and Psalms). Just ask Him as you seek Him to reveal truth to you–and to give you strength, wisdom and understanding. And He will. Because He is faithful.
And when that crisis of faith does come–when you have experienced His glory–although you might ask, “Take this cup from me”…when you find yourself ending with “but thy will be done”…you will find yourself quickly on one of the most miraculous, joyous, exciting adventures–one that only He could write.
Blessings to you…and forever your sister in Christ,