Every morning in the Billingslea house, we wake up to the plaintive cries of our adorable Ragdoll cat, who does her best to herd us out of bed and straight to the kitchen, where she knows we will give her a special morning food topper to start her day off just right.
This special treat comes in a tube. Opening one and sometimes both ends, we carefully empty the liquid wonder with its tiny chunks of fish onto a plate, rolling the tube so that we squeeze out all the good bits.
Inevitably, I do not finish the job of preparing my cat’s special treat soon enough. She meows and even stretches against the cupboards, trying to reach up to the counter, anything to make me hurry up.
“Waste not, want not,” I said to her plaintive cries for me to hurry. I was thinking about the idea of valuing what we have and not throwing out things that are perfectly good. But the old adage struck a different chord in me as well.
At Christmas time, we celebrate the birth of God-come-to-earth, Jesus, Who came to love the world and offer it the one gift it could never give itself: redemption through grace. Faith in Jesus gives us hope so that we can endure the challenges of living in a fallen world. But how often do I fail to allow faith to do its utmost for my peace of mind? By wasting opportunities to apply faith to everyday issues, I end up wanting faith.
How can I “waste not” on faith? Like the routine of feeding my cat every morning, I have to make faith practice a regular part of my day. Starting my day with prayer, making time for daily Bible study, and consciously choosing faith when I am faced with problems are some of the ways I can fully embrace the gift of faith.
The Bible has many examples of people who squeezed all the faith out of their living. Abraham’s righteousness was attributed to him because of his faith. David survived years of being chased by a king determined to kill him, then led his people as one of their greatest kings, all through a faith so strong, he’s said to have a heart like God’s. Paul gave up a prominent position and shifted his focus to leading others to Jesus, spending many years of the rest of his life in prison, wanting only to fulfill the purpose he felt God had shown him on that Damascus road.
How often do I waste the grace and the faith that Jesus offers me every day and in abundance? I let the fears and worries of this world weigh me down, even though Jesus promises me that His burden is light and His love never-ending.
And there is another thing I do, and that is try to earn my salvation, instead of practicing faith. I waste faith and wind up yearning for it:
“Whereas Israel, [though always] pursuing the law of righteousness, did not succeed in fulfilling the law. And why not? Because it was not by faith [that they pursued it], but as though it were by works [relying on the merit of their works instead of their faith]. They stumbled over the stumbling Stone [Jesus Christ].” (Romans 9:31-32 AMP)
Faith is a gift that God gives us, but it’s also a gift we give ourselves. James assures us,
“Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.” (James 1:3-4 AMP)
Because faith gives us hope, we also can find peace there. In fact, faith is the only path to peace in this life, even though most of the circumstances where we grow our faith are often painful, even full of woe. No faith that means anything at all goes untested. We only grow our faith by putting it to use during the good and the bad times of our lives.
Hard Faith, the kind of faith you need when the doctor tells you the news isn’t good, or you lose your job, or your child makes choices that lead them away from God, this faith that we should never waste, can only be honed in hard circumstances.
In 2022, I’m working to understand how I can communicate my 50+ years of living through hard faith to help others experience Jesus to the full.