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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

That Moment ... Where Unbelief Is Overtaken

So I'm teaching a class at my church on Saturday mornings.  It's a curriculum about developing the character of Christ within you.  I actually wrote the curriculum - or rather the Lord wrote it through me.  At any rate, this past Saturday's lesson was about examining your ways. 

"Let us examine our ways, and test them.  And let us return to the Lord."  (Lamentations 3:40)

It's a simple enough Bible verse.  But even this teacher recognizes how abstract it seems.  How does one examine his ways?  How does she test her ways?  And when we return to the Lord ... what then?  Why do we return to the Lord?  What do we expect from the Lord?  What does He expect from us?

As it happens, I have considerable experience examining my ways.  You see, I've had some ways, some terrible ways.  I have had some dishonest ways, some sarcastic ways.  Many of my ways were devious and not honorable at all.  They were selfish ways.  They were conceited ways.  Quite honestly, my ways were painful.  They left me with an overall sense - for much of my life - that life wasn't really worth living. 

So anyway, I'm explaining to my class the significance of examining and testing one's ways.  I began to walk them through some examples, using some tools I'd included in the curriculum.  And then it happened.  As I was explaining head knowledge, the Holy Spirit showed up to impart heart knowledge.

Among the many ways that I have had to examine in my life, chief among them was what I believed about myself.  For much of my life, I didn't think I was worthy.  I didn't consider myself to be lovable.  My starting position with everyone was one of victimhood, distrust, cynicism, and pain. 

The Bible tells us that God loves us.  I believed that about you.  I just didn't believe that about me.  My mind could not fathom that fact that God does indeed love me.  I didn't imagine that my wife loved me or anyone else really loved me.  I assumed that my friends were either using me or they didn't really know me.  For if they knew me like I knew me - they surely could not love me. 

To make a long story short, God eventually changed my heart.  He healed my wounded, hurting heart.  But in the process, He had to convince me that I was first loved.  In working through that, I learned an important lesson about belief and unbelief. 

You see, when we believe something or don't believe something, it seems that is not really a choice.  We tend to think of it as a choice.  But consider something that you believe.  Could you imagine not believing it?  Or think of something (or someone) that you just don't believe.  Maybe you'd like to believe them.  You wish you could.  Maybe you want for all you're worth to believe them or believe in them.  But the circumstances just overwhelm you - and you can't. 

This is how it works.  Your belief or your unbelief goes along, firm in its conviction.  But then the truth swamps it.  The evidence becomes overwhelming and that thing or person that you didn't believe?  Well now you can't not believe it!  Or that thing or person that you believed in with the depths of your heart?  Well they've laid open the core of your understanding such that there's nothing you can do to believe now.  You can hope and wish.  You can pray and cry and try with all your might.  But you can't change your beliefs or unbeliefs. 

So it is with our beliefs.  We go along believing them - whether they're true or not.  And it is the same with unbeliefs - where we go along not believing them, whether they're true or not.  Of course we always like to think of ourselves as being in control of our beliefs. 

But my life experience has shown me that this is the core of my concept.  I really don't control my beliefs or my unbelief.  They are victims of truth as it gets revealed to me.  And when truth convinces me, it overtakes my belief - or my unbelief ... and they are forever changed.

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