When I adopted Sadie everyone told me, "Shelter dogs make the best pets because they know you saved them." That doesn't make dogs from breeders or pet stores love you less, there's just a greater appreciation a dog who has been pulled from a dirty kennel or the brink of euthanization feels for its owner than a dog bred and raised in a mostly pleasant environment. Today on a drive back from Athens, Georgia, where I presented a Hems & Hers trunk show to the fine ladies of Chi O, I realized that I'm sort of like a dog from a breeder in my faith.
Now follow me on this very rough analogy. I love my Lord with every fiber of my being, in every way I know, but basically as a Christian since birth, I don't know any other way to live than with Him in my life. I don't know the desperation that some people felt before finding salvation. I don't know the aching, longing and yearning for a better home. And while those who have been in that state of despair might count me lucky, I would argue that it almost puts me at a faith disadvantage.
You see, without ever knowing what it was like to wander WITHOUT God, I tend to grow very complacent of my time spent WITH God. Like a sweet friend or family member that's just always there in the background - steady and comforting - the Almighty is a constant presence, but not necessarily always mighty in my day-to-day.
I realized as I was driving and the words of the song by my church's incredibly talented worship team's song "Give Me Faith" washed over me, that I don't get it 9 times out of 10. "Give me faith to trust what You say, that You're good and Your love is great," the song goes. Simple in words, but so powerful in meaning. This complacency that so often dominates my relationship with the Creator dulls His sheer greatness in my life more often than not. The song continues, "I need You to open my eyes and see that You're shaping my life." How cliche is it to say that you can't see the forest for the trees? I've spent so long feeling like my eyes are focused on Jesus that I completely miss everything He's doing to draw me to him and shape me for His ultimate glory.
When I get discouraged or feel like my life is adrift and in a continual state of flux, as it often is, I tend to quote Jeremiah 29:11 to myself, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future." It's a crazy amazing verse, but yet again, I have become so numb to the power of those words that I don't even think about them anymore. God's word is TRUE. It is ALIVE and ACTIVE. None of His promises go unfulfilled. He promises to not only give me a hope and a future but to PROSPER. For me to not react powerfully and dynamically to that assurance every time I hear it is a travesty.
"I may be weak, but Your spirit's strong in me; my flesh may fail, but my God, You never will," the lyrics of "Give Me Faith" proclaim, and no truer words have been spoken or sung. I can get caught up in berating myself for falling short of the mark in my walk with God. In criticizing myself for not "feeling" my faith enough, for being too lax or cerebral. In analyzing and searching and listening and not doing. But His power that conquered the grave is IN me.
There's no room for stagnation and self-doubt when there's that kind of might waiting to be unleashed in me.
So back to the dog analogy. I may never feel that same urgency that the "rescued pet" feels, but that doesn't mean that the Lord hasn't rescued me also. That doesn't mean I don't strive with the same intensity to obey and serve my God, Protector and Provider, and as my path is murkier than ever, I can promise you, that I will cling to Him with all the ferocity of a creature that is lost without its Master. I'm just glad I know who's guiding me.