"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." -- Hebrews 11:1
I'm not really sure if I came here in faith or if I came here in spite of faith.
I'm out of Hammond for a week at a retreat called the Texas Christian Ashram (the same place where I got saved and where, years later, the Lord changed my name) held in Scottsville, Texas, every year at the end of July. This place is unique as far as Christian camps go, because it's not just a youth or children's camp, it's for the whole family. Furthermore, you don't have this line of demarcation between participants and staff members, but everyone who serves here is also a participant. Granted, some people get their way paid (e.g. evangelists and their families, youth workers, members who are in need) but the majority of the folks here pay for their trip while serving, and pour out to others while also having someone pour into them.
Here's the thing. The Christian Ashram movement was started by E. Stanley Jones, a Methodist evangelist and, although it's neither officially United Methodist nor directly run by the United Methodist Church, members of that denomination make up a large part of its participants. Part of my testimony is how God saved me out of religion, sectarianism, and denominationalism, so sometimes coming out here feels like going back to Egypt.
So why am I here?
I had the option not to come. I could've kept on working and spent my money elsewhere. On the other hand, I haven't been home to Coushatta since Christmas and have only seen my parents once since then; this is a great opportunity to see family members I otherwise won't see until Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. I also haven't had any time off all summer and have put aside opportunities to go on other trips, including Florida, Colorado, and Tennessee.
In spite of the cost of the camp + opportunity cost of missing a week of work, I came. I wanted to come see family, and it was a good enough excuse to get more than halfway to Dallas, where some of my friends live and I'll go see them later in the week.
But seeing family and friends isn't the real point of this week. It's a great side benefit, but the whole reason this thing was founded was so people could seek the face of God. Maybe I grew a little cynical with that in light of the whole religion thing, and completely missed the fact that I need to come out here myself to get alone with God. And not necessarily here exclusively, but anywhere, and here is as good or better than anywhere else provided I actually do so.
I did come knowing the Lord could do a work in me, and that He would move if I dedicated this week to Him; after all, my relationship with Him is strictly dependent upon how much more of Him I want in my life. When I made the decision to go ahead and come out here, that's what I said. "Lord, I dedicate this week to You. I know I could stay home and make money while also not spending it, so I expect You to do greater things here." After meeting and talking with my roommate, the youth evangelist, Friday night, I felt more sure than ever before that God is calling me to do a work for His Kingdom, and that starts right here.
I work because Jesus empowers me, not because anyone else empowers me (Ephesians 6:10).
I love because Jesus loved me first (I John 4:19).
I serve because Jesus showed us all how to serve (I woke up a few hours ago, and I just remembered a dream last night of two people washing each other's feet, cf. John 13:1-17).
And I've just seen in the past 24 hours how the Lord is working in my situation at home in a way I never expected (when I know more for sure, I'll share it).
Maybe I don't have everything concretely in my grasp yet, but my Father does, and I can put my hope in that. That's what faith is. That's what trusting and believing in Him truly means.