By Robert Beames
The Dreaded Question: How’s Your Walk with God?
Have you ever been asked this dreaded question: “How’s your relationship with God?” Maybe it came from a pastor, a godly friend, or grandparent who isn’t about to let you slide by with an evasive response. Maybe, in all honesty, the best you could say was something to the effect of, “I wish I knew.”
Naturally, we feel better if we can point to tangible areas of improvement, some measureable goal reached. Maybe you can report some gigantic leaps you’ve made in your spiritual walk: you’ve started reading His word more, praying more, sharing His truth with others more, or even loving those around you more. Maybe it’s all true; maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration. We like these reportable milestones, but this is not what God asks of us. He asks us to walk by faith.
Sometimes we feel like God is distant for a day, a month, or even decades. But no matter how long we feel clueless about what God is doing in our lives, we can rest assured that He is actively and intimately engaged. Not only does His word tell us this, but the word of God is indeed at work in all of us who believe (1 Thess. 2:13). Sometimes, this is easier read than believed.
We might not always see His fingerprints on the decisions we make. We may not recognize His artwork in our present circumstances. It’s at these times, when all direct evidence of God’s presence is lacking, we are forced to trust that He is working in our lives.
Six hundred years before the birth of Christ, the nation of Israel was facing imminent annihilation from an egotistical Babylonian king. The faithful prophet Habakkuk cried out to the Lord for answers. He wanted a revelation. The Lord replied, “…the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and it will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:3, 4).
When would God answer and come to the rescue of Israel? God told His people to “wait for it.” In contrast to an unbelieving king with wrong desires and “puffed up” with pride, God says the righteous will live by faith.
About 700 years later, the Apostle Paul applied the prophet’s words to all of those who are sons of Abraham by faith. Carried along by the Spirit of God, Paul states that the righteousness by which we are to live is one “that is by faith from first to last” (Romans 1:17).
Later in the 16th century, God revealed this truth to the leaders of the Reformation to counterbalance a church which was increasingly putting its faith in works, and, like that Babylonian king, was increasingly becoming puffed up in desires which weren’t upright. His faithful were still required to wait on God to work, although the situation seemed bleak and hopeless.
Over the past couple decades, I’ve seen God move in my life at times and clearly heard His voice on other occasions. But, I’ve had to live all the other days by faith.
At my conversion, God heard my persistent plea to reveal His truth to me, and at the right time, He cut through my confusion with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. There were other times He directed my paths and I followed in faith, but few of those trails turned out as I had hoped. I recall major decisions made out of fear because I lacked the faith to follow Him. I’m left wondering what could have been.
Only recently, after several weeks of desperate prayer, God seemed to speak powerfully to me through a song, telling me clearly that He is indeed “big enough” to work in the way I implored. Although His power was undeniably confirmed to me then, I still didn’t get what I wanted. Sometimes, it doesn’t seem to matter how often I sing along with Third Day that I “need a revelation,” and that “I got nothing without you, Lord,” I still find myself “broken, and trying to find the way back home.”
Although it’s only a parable, the prodigal son had a type of revelation with his face in a pig’s trough. His thoughts were finally cleared by the pig slop he was eating and he knew what he needed to do. There are many days when I would gladly take that kind of revelation. And yet I know I’ve never actually left home.
So, when does it all end? When do we finally get the answers we want? Actually, they may never come in this life. God doesn’t promise us that they will. However, He did make a sacred covenant with us to be our God and to make us His people in return. We are saved by faith and our principal identity comes directly from His love for us. He owes us nothing more. He gives us nothing less.
Sometimes He reveals His plans to us. Sometimes He takes us to the place we want to go. He often comes to our rescue, even after saving us from spiritual death. Occasionally, we are allowed to see what He’s doing in our lives and how He’s crafting us into the image of His Son. But during all the other times, we are left to walk by faith.
So, no matter how many faithless decisions we have made, or how much of our life has been wasted on our self-absorbed endeavors, God cannot love us any more than He already does (John 15:13). During every single one of our failures, He responds to us saying, “My Son has changed your worthlessness into great value!” That causes us to love Him more, and inspires the faith within us to trust Him more (if only to a slight degree that’s hardly worth trying to articulate to Grandma!). This is a revelation of faith.
No, we don’t always see how He’s working in our lives, but in faith we trust His word which tells us He is. We don’t always sense His presence, but by faith we know His promise never to leave us is true. We don’t always feel like He regards us at all, but through faith we believe His words of love for us are genuine. We continue to read them, sing them, and repeat them over and over again, as we keep walking through this life in faith.
(I believe He wanted me to remind you of this!)
By Robert Beames