A third post on some important things I took away from my Personal Spiritual Disciplines class from this past semester. For this class we read George Muller’s biography Delighted in God and below is a second post on a crucial lesson I drew from this book (It may help to read the fist post if you have not.):
Quite understandably Muller, a man known for his strong faith, was commonly asked, “How is your faith so resilient, so firm?” His answer, as mentioned in the previous post, was that his faith was no different than any other Christian, but there was some wisdom he had to share for how one’s faith may be strengthened.
His fourfold answer included Bible reading, keeping one’s conscience clean, remembering God will not give His people more than they can bear, and, finally, he exhorted his listeners to not avoid situations that would test their faith. It is this final piece of wisdom that has had a profound impact on me. Here again is how Muller worded this particular point of instruction:
Don’t try to avoid situations where your faith may be tested. Naturally we don’t like trusting in God alone but it is when we do this that our faith is strengthened.
When I read Muller’s words I was struck. I was immediately convinced that this was sound instruction, and Muller’s words stuck with me as I continued through the following days.
Over the course of those days I thought about my current situation in light of Muller’s teaching for us to test our faith. For the first time in my life I was at a Christian school, and I do not mean a school that is “Christian” in name only. This is a school that cherishes the Bible, and people here talk about reaching the nations and theology and the gospel and ministering to the poor and growing in holiness and cultivating a godly marriage and long dead theologians, etc., etc., etc. What I mean by all of this is that I really fit in here. Yes, some students dress different and some students are foreign and some students are lifelong Baptists and others are nearly lifelong pagans, but you will nowhere find a place where more people love Jesus and John Calvin than Southern Seminary.
Am I challenged here? Yes. The real question is: “Am I complacent here?” Well, the temptation to be complacent is here for sure. And this is where Muller comes in.
Here is how Muller’s words about testing one’s faith echoed in my ears. “You say you believe Jesus is Lord. You say you believe that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. You say you believe the Bible is the word of God. Put your chips on the line. Stop smacking your lips in Kingdom Comfort and let’s see what you got.”
By God’s grace in my first couple months of seminary training I learned that I must deliberately test my faith. I must intentionally wear it out that I might see what shows up. Before the end of the semester I had my opportunity.
Through a friend of a friend I was introduced to a high school football coach at a school near our church. The name of the high school is Iroquois High. The coach was more than welcoming for me to come alongside the team basically as a chaplain type figure. What that has looked like over the last couple of months has been going to the team’s work outs on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. I spend time with the guys as they work out trying to get know them, encourage them, and help them rack their weights. Slowly but surely the guys have been opening up. One can be sure, these guys are not Southern Seminary types. They don’t look like me, talk like me, come from a home like I did, go to a school like I did, but slowly all of that is becoming less important to them. Even over just a couple of months they are willing to converse and willing to listen.
And O how I’ve been tested! O how I have been humbled! O how I have been forced to cling to Christ that in His mercy He is able to hit a hole in one with a crooked stick and that His power is made perfect in my weakness. Boy, do I feel weak when I show up on that campus!
I ask you to pray for Iroquois High. It is a unique atmosphere (for me anyway) with a lot of really neat and beautiful kids. Pray they would hear of Jesus from me, and pray that I will trust more genuinely and fully in Jesus because of them.