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From the Archives: Resources of Faith

 In All Church of God, Columns

By James L. Edwards

The Christian—sensitive, caring, hard-working—is susceptible to anxiety as is the person living in a world without God. Our problem is further compounded by the guilt we feel when we know we are living life without the resources of faith so very available to us. Our concern is that we mature to the point that our faith becomes ever more operative, available, and apparent in our lives.

It is not God’s plan for any of us to suffer the agonies of worry and fear. Yet we must be honest enough to face the fact that, while we do belong to God, our vulnerability to anxiety can be ever increased because we have chosen to accept the needs of others. We are sensitized to human needs, and we often assume overwhelming burdens for them.

The case for our need to apply the resources of faith is further expanded because the nature of our fellowship, with all its blessings, also brings some demands. Hospitals should not complain because they are attracting sick persons to their halls. Similarly, the Church attracts all of us—just as we are, needs and all—to its fellowship. We say, “Whosoever will may come….” The world says, “Welcome—if you qualify.” So, we come with all our realness, needing to learn again and again the lessons of faith.

Find Your Joy in Him

James L. Edwards

The great text for our encouragement and instruction is Philippians 4:4–9, and includes these words: “Delight yourself in the Lord, yes, find your joy in him at all times (v. 4, Phillips).

We usually find what we are searching for. Some folks are able to sniff out the disappointment in any celebration. Sometimes life seems like a huge junk drawer in the kitchen. Indiscriminate digging around can leave us cut and bleeding when our blind rooting comes across a sharp knife. It also may contain the very tool we need to make the repair. The “lost coin” may just be there.

Look for joy in life…in the Lord. Some find in him harsh judgment. You can find joy. Being in touch with the Lord is the first step to finding your joy.

In pre-marriage counseling a pastor encouraged a young couple, whose marriage he was about to perform, to find their way into the fellowship of the Church. Why? Because all the things they will need to survive the odds and achieve a successful marriage can be found there:

• trustworthy friends,
• a wholesome perspective in life,
• a place for their children to learn and grow and to know God,
• answers to real, nagging problems, and
• help.

We will be vulnerable to all the available anxieties of our inner and outer world. But if we are in touch with the Lord, there we can find his strength of presence and joy.

Give God the Gory Details!

Fear and anxiety always win under cover. Exposed, they have little chance. Denial is the friend of fear and the enemy of faith. But owning our fears is the place where we can begin to appropriate the grace of God.

This world has taught us to run from danger. The kind of peace which God can give is beyond such practical reasoning. When we face our fears head on, we find them to be manageable monsters. It is in the unknown that the gloom of our problems holds us captive.

Trusting God with the gory details—sometimes trusting the pastor or a skillful friend in his name—gives away the grasp the hidden problems may be presenting to us, and gives us a rest we can come to know in Christ Jesus.

Use Your Resources

The practice of a healthy mind is a conscious act we are instructed to perform. The Philippian letter says, “Fix your minds on whatever is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and admirable…” (Phil 4:8, Phillips). The reward of this conscious, practiced effort of our mind and spirit is that “…the God of peace will be with you” (Phil 4:9). Left alone to wander, our minds can easily settle on despair rather than hope. But the practice of disciplined, conscious meditation on such good things gives God his best chance to bring to us the peace we seek.

Now, why is it so difficult for us to accept this good advice? Why do we insist on bearing alone the burdens of our anxieties when faith is so readily available for our use?

Faith is a Confessional Lifestyle

To confess is to confirm before God an inner, open truth about ourselves. Confession is the beginning place for his forgiveness. It is also the beginning place for our step into a new life.

Confession is a mental and spiritual practice of “owning” our own humanity before God and before ourselves. It is the mental and spiritual exercise of “doing” our faith. It is the mental and spiritual practice of “making room” in our lives for the beliefs of our choosing. We are responsible for those things which grab our attention. In a confessional lifestyle we choose to confess Christ as Lord and the center of our being. The power of God in one’s life is not an externally delivered accident. It is available for our choosing, and we can invite his resources into our living.

The promise Christ leaves to us is that if we confess him, he will also confess us before his Father who is in heaven; but if we deny him, he will also deny us before his Father in heaven. A whole lifetime of freedom from anxiety and fear can begin with our confession that Christ is Lord in the inner world—of our problems and anxieties—and of the outer world of our stresses and concerns.

The resources of faith are available to those who willingly and openly seek, through a confessional lifestyle, the power of an available and loving God. May the God of peace be with you as you accept his great resources of faith.

Rev. Dr. James L. Edwards served as the president of Anderson University from 1990 to 2015. A number of major facilities were constructed during his presidency, including the Kardatzke Wellness Center, York Performance Hall, York Seminary Village, additions onto Decker Hall and Hartung Hall, a new business school, the Flagship Enterprise Center, and improvements to residence halls and many existing campus facilities. In his last year as president of AU, he was the longest-serving college president in the state of Indiana. Prior to the university, Edwards served as president and chief executive officer for Warner Press.

Article originally published in the July 17, 1977, issue of Vital Christianity. Republished by permission. Across the United States and around the world, God is on the move in the Church of God. Join the movement. Give life! Donate today at www.jesusisthesubject.org/give.

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