Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lost and Found Faith

Several years ago, my husband bought a three diamond necklace for our anniversary and gave it to me as a  gift. I, of course, was elated - just as any wife would be when her husband does something extra special to make her feel loved and appreciated.

It was a beautiful necklace, and immediately became a special treasure in my heart because of its sentimental value.

But a few weeks ago, it dawned on me that I had not seen it in a while, so after beginning a small search,  I soon realized that I could not find it anywhere. Memories escaped me of when and where I had seen or worn it last. I quickly became fretful about it, but hopeful that it would show up.

And show up, it did. I was in the car with my daughter, taking some things over to our church, and noticed it laying in the middle console, apparently where I had taken it off one day while driving (although I have no idea why I would have done that?!)

Immediately I was filled with elation when I saw it. I shrieked with delight, startling my daughter who was sitting in the passenger seat. I went on and on, telling her how much I had fretted over losing my necklace, and how absolutely thrilled I was to have found it. I was all smiles.

At the next stoplight, I attempted to get the necklace around my neck before the light turned green, but the clasp was tiny, and the light chanegd before I was able to get it securely fastened. So I carefully laid the necklace down in my lap, planning to put it on at the next light, but then got caught up talking to my daughter and forgot to do it.

That is not the only thing I forgot. When I arrived at church, I hopped out of the car to get some boxes from the trunk, and quickly carried them into church. Never once thinking about my necklace - until I had returned home. And then - pure panic set in.

Panic that made the first round of worry about the lost necklace pale in comparison, because this time, I knew it was gone. Never to be seen again. Lost, forever. I was all frowns. And a few tears. Devastated.

It was an afternoon of varying emotions, from recognizing it was missing, to curiosity, to thrilled excitement, to overwhelming panic, to sorrow, and then last but not least, to regret.

How could I have been so careless with something so special,? How could I have found it, only to lose it again shortly after? I was so frustrated at myself and the situation, and even felt anger at the person who must have surely found my treasure on the ground in front of the church doors, but neglected to turn it in. 

But in all honesty, I knew I had only myself to blame. I had let it slip on my priority list, and misplaced it. Not once, but twice.

I took my necklace for granted, didnt give it the special care it deserved, and even acted negligently. As a result, it has been lost, found, then lost again.

As I thought about this situation, I thought of how it could be a parallel to how we treat our faith.

At first, when we discover Jesus and find faith, we are overwhelme with gratitude and excitement.

Then we get complacent and God gets pushed further down on the priority list, eventually causing us to fall away from God, losing our faith.....  Yet later, we may experience a a great spiritual encounter with God at a conference or at church, and we begin to focus on our faith once again. 

For example, I accepted Christ as a child, but walked away from Him in my teenage and college years.  Then a few years later, I found Him again in a powerful worship service, as I embraced His forgiveness and love and grasped a new understanding of who He really was. 

But then days, weeks and months passed, with life in full swing, and that passionate fire for Christ became a small flicker. Not completely lost, but misplaced.

I have attended women's conferences which rocked my faith to the core - conferences where I felt God's presence in every ounce of my being, as I held my hands high, sang worship songs, allowed tears of joy to stream down my face, and heard God's voice speaking to my heart.

But then days, weeks and months passed, with life in full swing, and that passionate fire for Christ became a small flicker once again. Not completely lost, but misplaced.

I have experienced times of great commitment and closeness to God, but then a tragedy occurs, or I received some bad news, and secretly wondered why God allowed that to happen.

Then days, weeks and months passed, and the fire of faith slowly got dimmer and dimmer. But as He always does, God gently pulled me back into His presence.

If not careful, we can find ourselves living in this cycle of lost and found faith more often than we would like - regardless of how "spiritual" or "religious" we are. It happens to the best of Christians.

Just like my necklace,  we can have this same complacency about our faith and not even realize it is missing.  As the  gravitational pull of life which draws our focus off of God, and onto our needs and circumstances, we inadvertently forget to look for God, talk with Him, and make Him a part of our every day life.

Just like my necklace, we can feel lost or disconnected from God for a variety of reasons, but then encounter Him in a fresh and exciting and new way, helping us to find our way back to Him and reigniting our passionate faith.

Just like my necklace, we can quickly lose that faith once again, as we fall back our normal routines, and so the cycle of lost and found faith continues.

So how do we break the cycle?  How do we make our faith a priority, even when life feels demanding and overwhelming?  How we do continue trusting God, even when bad things happen?  How we do find our way back, when we feel lost and disconnected?

How do we keep the fire for Christ burning in our hearts?

There are several solutions to breaking the cycle. We'll talk more about those over the next couple weeks, but if have any suggestions for the rest of us, based on your own faith experiences, please share!

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1 comment:

Dusty Richardson said...

Better late than never, right?

One thing that's always helped me...although it may sound silly to some? I have a Me & God session every morning before my day starts and then? I take Him with me!! No matter where I'm going or what I'm doing that day? I just imagine Jesus is right here with me. After a few days of practice? You will see him! Sitting here next to me at my desk in the office at work...watching/reading over my shoulder anything I pull up on the Internet; sitting next to me in the car listening to whatever comes out of my mouth as I vent, sing, etc....
and sometimes? Standing next to me with His hand over my mouth as someone makes me angry and my Irish temper flares!
It will really have an impact on what you say, think, watch, read etc...when you realize that Jesus is observing EVERYthing you do!!