Develop Faith That Transcends Circumstances

Faith is one of the most important aspects of our spiritual life. 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…Without faith it’s impossible to please God. 

Heb. 11:1, 6

If we don’t have faith, our walk with God is dead in the water, so to speak.

However, for many of us, our faith life is not what it should be. I should know, because all too often I fall into that category.

My faith seems to falter when I need it the most.

When things are looking their bleakest, that’s when my faith should shine. However, those are often the times when I withdraw inward and keep God at a distance.

I’ve been a believer in Christ for over three and a half decades. You’d think my faith would have grown some by now.

You may be like me—finding yourself in the position of doubting God, doubting that He will come through this time. Even though He has proven Himself over and over, you still doubt.

Our faith muscle needs stretching if it is to grow. If we truly want our faith to transcend any circumstances we find ourselves in, we need to use it every day.

From the small things to the large things, we must trust God in everything. Then, and only then, will our faith begin to grow and strengthen.

I’m amazed at the faith that Abraham displays when God asks him to sacrifice Isaac, his only son. I’m not sure I trust God enough to follow through with that.

I would doubt whether I was hearing God correctly. I’d say something like, “Are you sure this is what you want me to do, Lord?” or “No, I can’t do THAT. Surely you want me to do something else, right?”

Abraham’s faith lets him stand out as one of the greatest believers ever. He had to look beyond his circumstances and draw deeply from his well of faith in God.

I believe that’s what we must do if we’re to develop that kind of faith. 

No matter what our situation looks like from our perspective, we must remember that God sees things from His 360-degree view. 

He’s not limited to living in just the present like we are. Time is His construct, and He is in the past, present, and future all at the same time.

God knows how everything is going to turn out—you can count on that.

Even when things look their worst, we can trust that He is in control. That’s what Abraham did, and that’s what we have to do as well.

Trusting God for little things first will help grow our faith, especially if we’re unsure we can fully trust him for the big things in life.

However, just remember that your situation may not always work out how you think it should.

Often, God has a different plan than we do, and the thing we pray about and hope will come to pass may not happen. 

We must trust God nonetheless, knowing that His way is best. When we can do this, we’ll be on the path to growing our faith.

Quit Trying to Understand God

If you want to commit your life to God and walk in obedience to Him, you must forget what you think you know about how life works. As mere humans, we can never fully understand God’s ways.

We’re told in Isaiah 55:9,

For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

If you stop and think about it, nothing about God and His creation really makes any sense. 

For example, in our human way of understanding, everything has a beginning and an end. 

Just look at our lives. We’re born, we live a certain length of time, then we die. That holds true for every single human being. There’s no variance to this pattern. Some may live longer than others, but every person has a beginning and an end.

God is different, however. The scriptures tell us that He has always been. He was not created by another entity, and He has never not existed. There’s no time in history when God wasn’t around. He created the concept of past, present, and future as we know it.

Our human brains struggle to make sense of this. How can something or someone have always been in existence? It’s not possible, our minds scream. Yet, it’s true. 

If we can truly wrap our heads around this fact, then we’ve come a long way toward accepting all the truths we’re told about God in the Bible. 

If we believe that God is all-powerful, then surely we can grasp the fact that He flooded the entire earth, or parted the sea so His people could escape capture, or resurrected His Son from the dead.

We, ourselves, can’t do any of these things; it’s not within our power to do so. This fact makes it quite difficult to believe that these things are possible. We simply must suspend disbelief and realize that there are things that a divine being can do that we simply can’t. 

I believe that’s why the Bible begins the way that it does. In Genesis, we’re told in detail how God created the heavens and the earth, then populated the earth with a man and woman and a multitude of animal species. 

He just puts it all out there right off the bat. If we can accept the truths found in Genesis, the rest of the Bible shouldn’t be a problem for us. 

The question is, do you believe the narratives found in the Bible? If you struggle to believe what you read in scripture, ask God to strengthen your faith; He’ll do it. He wants us to wholeheartedly accept Him and His ways.

To do so, it’s necessary to put aside human logic and accept the fact that God’s divine nature can’t be explained using our limited logic.

If you can do that, you can begin to commune more fully with God and worship Him as the Divine Creator that He is.

Just remember—it’s not always supposed to make sense. If it did, we wouldn’t need faith. And we’re told in Hebrews 11:6a that without faith it is impossible to please God.

So exercise your faith today. Don’t worry about understanding God. Simply worship Him by pondering on His glorious attributes. 

God is Good All the Time

You may be like me in that you often struggle with doubting God. I hate to admit it, but far too often I don’t trust that God has my best interests in mind when things don’t go the way I think they should. 

In my heart, I know that I can and should trust God completely. After all, He created the universe, so He should be able to handle the affairs of my life, shouldn’t He?

Then why do I allow my lack of faith to bubble to the surface and keep me from experiencing all the peace of God that He wants for His children?

If you also struggle with a lack of faith, then I’ll tell you the same thing I tell myself: God is good all the time—all the time, God is good.

Try this. The next time you’re faced with a challenging situation and you’re tempted to question God and His motives, take a moment to reflect on a previous trial in your life. It may have been last week, or it could even be from decades ago in your childhood. 

Just make sure it’s a situation where you can clearly see God’s hand at work. Perhaps he worked out the situation supernaturally in a way you can’t explain. Or maybe it was something simple—just an affirmative answer to a prayer sent up to Heaven.

The point is to recognize God’s work in the situation. Think about and really appreciate how His touch worked out in your favor. Perhaps even thank God again for His help during this time, no matter how long ago it was.

Now, here’s the key. If you can truly see and appreciate God’s handiwork during this trial in your life, you realize He can be trusted. 

He’s got your back, as the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:28:

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

It doesn’t matter what kind of challenge you’re facing. We’re assured that when it’s all said and done, God is working it out for your benefit

Even if you’ve just lost your job, or a loved one has died, or your car has broken down on the side of the highway—something good will come out of this situation.

God, in His infinite wisdom and goodness knows what He’s doing. And as mere human beings, there’s no way we can possibly begin to understand His actions. Even though the situation may look like a total mess to us, it is completely under His control. 

In fact, in Ecclesiastes 8:17 we’re told that we can’t ever hope to have full understanding of God’s actions:

I observed all the work of God and concluded that a person is unable to discover the work that is done under the sun.

Also, in Isaiah 64:4 we read:

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

These are just two of the verses that tell us we will never comprehend the mysteries of God. Therefore, trust is the key. 

If God came through for us before, He can and will again. We shouldn’t worry or fret over the situation because God already has it worked out.

God exists outside of our human concept of time. While we can only live in the present—having already experienced the past and waiting for the future to happen—God is not limited in this way. He is in the past, present, and future all at one time. 

He knows exactly what is going to happen to us. To Him, it’s already settled. And while we can’t exist in the same nonlinear space that God does, we can surely trust Him that everything in our lives will work out for the best. 

Once again, if we can look back on our lives and recognize God’s activity during our times of crisis, we can rest solidly on the fact that He will do the same again. 

The outcome may not look like we’re expecting it to or think it should, but we can be certain that it’s all for the best.

God is loyal and He loves His children. Waiting patiently on Him is an exercise in faith. Our faith will actually grow during challenging times as we rest in our belief that God will work every situation out for our benefit. 

After all, God is more concerned about building our character than He is about our physical comfort. Certainly, he would much rather shape our attitudes about material things than give in to our request for more money, a newer car, or a bigger house.

That’s not to say He doesn’t want us to have those things, but if it comes down to either more income or a stronger Christian character, He is going to act in a way that builds our character.

That may not be what we want to happen, at least in the here and now, but in the end, we’ll be better off because of God’s plan.

So, when it’s all said and done, simply trust God. Trust Him that He loves us and that He wants only the best for us. He’s our loving Heavenly father. And what father doesn’t want the best for His kids? 

A toddler doesn’t understand his parents’ motives for telling him to stay away from a busy roadway, but avoiding the dangers of passing traffic is obviously for his benefit. 

The same holds true for us. Even though we don’t understand why things happen as they do in our lives, God does, and He’s firmly in control.

In that, we can be absolutely certain. Just as that toddler doesn’t have to worry about food and shelter, we don’t have to worry about our basic needs. God has everything under control. 

Remembering that God is good and that He’s working on our behalf will help us rest in peace no matter what we’re faced with.

How to Quit Living in Survival Mode

Are you operating in “survival mode”? Does every day feel like you’re just trying to keep your head above water?

Many of us—myself included—have lived far too much of our lives just trying to make it through another day.

It’s like we’ve been thrown into the ocean and we’re fighting desperately to keep from drowning. 

You don’t know how to swim, and you can barely tread water. 

You’re close to going under for the last time while those around you are wearing life jackets, exerting no energy at all to stay afloat. 

You can’t even think about trying to get to shore because all your efforts are going toward simply surviving.

Others appear to be thriving and are making steady progress toward their goal—the beach and the safety it offers. 

You’re terrified that at any moment a huge wave could engulf you, taking you under and sealing your demise.

You can only dream about what it would be like to float effortlessly on top of the water like you see others doing.

It doesn’t sound very appealing, does it? 

Yet, that’s exactly how I’ve lived much of my adult life; maybe you have, too. Each day, I’ve spent my time and energy dealing with the demands and trials of life, waiting for my real life to begin.

That’s right—most days I’ve felt like this wasn’t my “real life”; it was more of a “starter life”—a warm-up to the real thing that I would begin someday when everything fell into place.

You know what I mean. The wonderful, awesome life I’d experience every day when I had more money than I needed, when there were no problems that required my attention, when virtually every moment of every day was as close to perfect as it could be. 

I have believed that that is when my life would begin. 

This fantasy has staked a hold in my brain for decades now. Here I am in my 50s and I’m still waiting for “real life” to begin. For everything to be exactly the way I think it should be. For there to be joy inexpressible every day without any effort on my part.

So far, none of that has happened.

I don’t believe we were put on this earth merely to survive—just to squeak by with no real progress toward anything of significance. 

So, what is the answer to this game of survival that characterizes so many people’s lives?

I certainly don’t have all the answers. If I did, then I wouldn’t have spent so many of my years as described above. 

I believe that to overcome living in survival mode we must take a step back and take a hard look at our lives. We must make a mental shift—doing it daily or even hourly if need be—to see ourselves as living our true lives now.

Life is not about to begin—we certainly don’t have any promises about the future.

Life is the here and now. Today. This hour and this moment. Every minute builds on the one just before it, so if we want to experience all that life offers, we have to live purposefully in the moment. 

We must realize that we have nothing else. The past is history. The future is not guaranteed. This very moment is all we have. 

Make this moment count, so that the next moment is even better.

Take what you have and make it the very best it can be—whether you have the metaphorical life jacket on or not. 

Life doesn’t treat everyone the same way. Some are born with advantages that others can never even dream about. 

It is up to us to use what we have to the best of our ability, realizing that even if we don’t hit every goal, we’ll still be better off than when we started because we did our best every moment of every day.

We have just one life. We must make the most of it every moment of every day.

Harrison Ford and More Harrison Ford

Quite unexpectedly, Harrison Ford’s face appears on the huge movie screen. It makes sense, I reason. His character is dead, but this is the newest Star Wars movie after all. Certainly the film’s makers have the artistic license if they want Han Solo to return once more, if only to pass on some good advice to his son, the cruel and heartless Ben, AKA Kylo Ren.

The seven of us have come to a 7:45 a.m. showing of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Yes, that’s 7:45 in the morning. Who would have thought you could go to the movies at that time of day? Apparently you can, however, when it’s a movie that’s hot and in high demand, like any in the Star Wars franchise.

Bleary-eyed and still a little groggy, we’d made our way to the theater—my wife, our daughter and her boyfriend, our son, his wife, and their 12-week-old son. The movie was good and very worth the early hour.

As I saw Harrison Ford on the screen, a thought struck me. This was my grandson’s first trip to a movie theater and Harrison Ford is in the movie. A little over 26 years prior, our son’s first theater movie was The Fugitive, starring none other than Harrison Ford. 

I’ve told that story countless times, how at two weeks old, our son “saw” his first movie. He had, of course, slept through the whole thing as his mom and I had carefully coordinated his feeding and nap time so that would be the case.

All that aside, I was struck by the irony that our son’s and grandson’s first movies had Harrison Ford in them. Who would have thought 26 years ago that that would be the case? It’s a sheer coincidence of course, but those sorts of things tend to stand out to me. Does it have any sort of meaning at all? 

Time and the passage of time fascinate me. How strange it would have been to sit in the theater that night while The Fugitive played on the big screen and see into the future over two and a half decades to our grandson’s first movie, realizing the irony that Harrison Ford appears in both movies.

To most people things like that don’t matter perhaps, and don’t mean anything. And maybe they really don’t. To me, however, it seems that there must simply be some kind of meaning attached to this incident. Some bigger, deeper, meaning that the universe is trying to convey to me, to us.

I know this doesn’t happen (at least not in our human, three-dimensional existence), but sometimes my mind wonders if two events like that can exist in some sort of parallel continuum. 

That the trip to see The Fugitive is still occurring somewhere, some place, in some way. And that it and this early morning trip to see the latest Star Wars installment are somehow connected by a silver cord that only exists in another dimension. For God, this is probably the case, as He is not restricted by time, space, or any other dimension.

Perhaps, more than anything, the whole thing serves as a testament to the longevity of Harrison Ford’s acting career. It certainly has stood the test of time. That’s the only thing about this coincidence that I can say for sure.

30 Years of Days

30 years. Over 10950 days. Almost 263000 hours.

Even knowing that’s how much time has passed, I somehow feel caught in a time warp.

As I sit eating my Quarter Pounder at the campus McDonald’s, I can’t take my eyes off the TV screen perched on the wall.

Just as if nothing has changed at all—over the last 10,950 days—Patch and Kayla argue, arms and hands flailing in the air.

Then Hope appears on screen, hardly worse for the wear after three decades.

Can it be? Is that Abe Carver, former Salem police chief, talking in his customary calm voice? Yes, it is. He may be sporting some gray hair, but he still looks pretty good.

Is this real life? Am I really sitting here watching the same “Days of Our Lives” characters on the TV screen as I had exactly 30 years ago—back when I was prepping to move to this town and begin my freshman year of college?


I’m so ready to be out of this class. Just want to get back to my dorm room, relax, and watch my show.

Thirty years ago, after moving into the dorm, I had the VCR in my room set to tape “Days” every day. If my 1:00 class let out a couple of minutes early, I would usually walk into my dorm room just as the end credits rolled.

I’d let the videotape rewind as I settled in, pulling up my desk chair and plopping down in front of my roommate Bill’s TV. I needed that 45 minutes or so of solitude (I’d fast forward through commercials) to take in my show and unwind after a day of classes.

How are those same characters still on this show—one I once loved and wouldn’t miss for the world?

What if we ask nearly the same question except in terms of 18-year-old me: How weird is it that I’ve fast forwarded the days of my life ahead 30 years, only to find myself gazing at a TV screen with the same characters on it? Where in the world did 30 years go? This can’t be real life…

Later that afternoon, after returning to work from lunch, I’d get resolution to the questions bouncing around in my head—a gentle reminder that I am indeed getting older.

I received a Facebook message from one of the girls heading up my 30 year high school reunion, wanting to know if I was planning on attending. She said RSVP’s had been slow coming in, so she’d decided to reach out to class members.

Did I really just call a 47-year-old woman a girl?

So, it’s true. Time has marched on, day by day, just as I had suspected.

Here I sit in this McDonald’s, eating my lunch, and gazing out the window at the campus I—so green and naive—arrived at so long ago.

Much has changed for sure. But much is still the same—like this particular McDonald’s, which had already been built when I came to town. Not much about it has changed—especially the blandness of the Quarter Pounder.

But I’ve definitely changed, some for the better and some for the worse. Now I just need to figure out which is which.

I’ll try to do that over the next 30 years, while Patch and Kayla continue to sort out their stormy relationship.

Who knows, maybe Victor Kiriakis will have made a reappearance by then—after recovering from decades-long amnesia.

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”

Sags and Bags

Looking back through old high school yearbooks is always fun for me. Taking time to sit down and revisit old memories is one of the things I like to do best. Usually it happens when I’m not expecting it. I’ll be cleaning out a closet or going through some old boxes, and all of a sudden this wonderful book of memories is in my hand.

I’ll see an old friend’s picture and I’ll think, Boy, he looks really young. Nowadays he looks old and wrinkled, telltale signs that he is losing the battle with time and aging. He’s got the same face as he had then, but it is definitely more complex now — more wrinkles, lines, and sags. Underneath is still that fresh-faced teenager, except that the passing years have added baggage to it.

It reminds me of using Photoshop to enhance a photo or drawing by adding layers to it. The original image of the person, landscape, or object is still there, only now it has been deepened with additional features.

I believe that the process and experience of writing is similar to the way a person ages.

Periodically I will take time and look through old journals of mine that I keep safely locked away in an old suitcase I bought at a yard sale. Some of the entries date back almost 30 years, but the most interesting ones I wrote in my high school and college days.

In particular, I have an old, blue, single-subject Mead notebook that we were required to journal in for my English class my senior year in high school. We would write in them, and every couple of weeks the teacher would collect them, read them, make comments, and return them to us.

The content of this particular journal is not nearly so personal as most of my other writings, due to the fact that I knew someone else would be reading it. Our teacher told us over and over to “write what is personal, but not what is private.”

Richard Nordquist does a wonderful job here of explaining the difference between public and private writing. He also tells us how keeping a journal can be therapeutic and gives us a few suggestions on how to get started. His article would have been helpful to me back in high school,  as I was often stretched in trying to find suitable topics to write about, something that was interesting to me and that I thought the teacher would find worthwhile.

Every time that I go back and read through my old Mead notebook I am amazed that some of the thoughts, feelings, and fears I had as a 17- or 18-year-old are still there, bouncing around in my brain.

I was so worried about the future back then. Many entries detailed my fear at choosing the right college for the following year, and what my life would be like one year from that day, and about girls that I liked but were too afraid to ask out. I still think in much the same way as I did then; many of the fears I have now fall along similar lines, although with more adult themes..

Even though a lot of times the subject matter I write now is very similar to what I wrote as a teenager, my emotions and my writing style are more mature, more elaborate now than when I was younger. I may write the same things I did then, but hopefully I write them better now, with more layers, more depth.

Same face, more wrinkles. Same writing style, more depth.

My years of life experience — with all its pain, sadness, happiness, and tears — makes this added dimension possible. It is something that can not be substituted with something else, nor can it ever be taken away.

  When I sat down recently to read through this treasured old notebook, I noticed a couple of very intriguing things. After a long fall and winter of lingering, grinding depression, in March of 1987 — the latter part of my senior year — I wrote down four occupations that interested me:  Air Force pilot, drummer, psychologist, and writer.

I don’t know exactly how I came up with this list, and I don’t really recall wanting to pursue any of those occupations back then (except maybe writing, but that would have been a far-fetched idea at the time).

I suppose that I did dream of these others, however, because the ink on the page still can’t lie even after all these years.

The interesting part of this story is that of the four occupations I had written down so many years prior, in the weeks leading up to this last re-reading of the journal, I had spent time thinking about three of them (the Air Force would never have let me fly with my eyesight).

It’s amazing that after all these years, and all the jobs and careers I’ve experimented with, I still return to this same core of interests.

I’ll be forever grateful to my English teacher that year, Mrs. C., for requiring us to maintain a journal. Rereading it periodically over the years since graduation has been a wonderful source of joy and inspiration.

I recently found this blog entry from Mya. It’s amazing how similar her experience is when she looks through her closet and sees clothes and accessories dating back over the years and decades. She calls it “my window to myself”. This perfectly describes how I feel about my high school journal.

The tendency to romanticize the past has always been a significant weakness of mine; it goes hand and hand with my depression. I read in my blue journal that even as an 18-year-old I was longing for a simpler time.

In my journal I recalled camping out in my backyard with my best friend when we were in fifth grade. I was nostalgic for the movies and music of that wonderful summer. Reliving those childhood days, if only in my mind, helped me deal with the stresses of facing an unknown, potentially harsh future after high school graduation.

Nowadays my writing as an adult often reflects a longing for the simpler days of high school, when my biggest concerns (as recalled almost three decades later) were homework and girls — not a mortgage, kids, health concerns, and a job that is less than glamorous.

It seems I’ve never been satisfied with my present life.

I continue striving to take joy in my life on a daily basis. Maybe I just need to listen to God a little more closely.