Where I grew up in Arizona we didn't get much rain. When we did, it was short lived. Often we could feel rain drops and then look up to see nothing but blue skies. This was because by the time the rain hit us, the cloud had evaporated above. When this happened, we called it Liquid Sunshine.
For much of my Christian walk this was what my experience with God seemed like. I could feel the results of His work in my life, short lived as it was, but when I looked up I couldn't see the source.
I don't know about you, but I like to touch and see the reasons for what is going on in my life so I can figure out how to react to them, or better yet, direct them. I like when the spiritual “math” adds up. Yet, for years, I had no idea HOW God worked in my life, so I simply waited for the next bit of Liquid Sunshine.
I would read books by different authors in hopes of getting some nugget that could mysteriously make me act differently. I would pray my best prayers in hopes that God would give me a new slice of His personality pie. I would read my Bible to try and hide His word in my heart, hoping it would come to mind when I really needed it. I would perform ministry, once again, HOPING that some way, somehow I would be changed a little bit more.
The secret that no one ever told me was…
As long as I stayed in “hope”, I would never walk in FAITH.
In today’s Church we teach that “It’s not by works, lest any man should boast,” because that is what the Bible says. Yet, take a quick walk through your local Christian book store and you will be bombarded with the 7 Habits of Coolness, the 5 Steps to More Money, or the True Formula of Oneness; only to find that yet again, no matter how hard you try, no amount of striving can change your need for more striving. While many of these types of books contain wonderful tools and advice for specific issues you may be facing, most of them can't explain how to address the core of your spiritual existence. They can give you a little bit of rain for a moment, but they can't ever seem to create a sustainable source to draw from for all the other issues you are facing. And so, we continue to wait for the next bit of Liquid Sunshine.
So where does that leave us?
If you are tired of trying to produce rain in your life with no idea how to pray for a cloud, then I hope this article gives you a new tool to use in every aspect of your spiritual life. You see, there is NOTHING you can do to produce rain in your life if you do not FIRST address the source of that rain.
Put another way… There is no way for you to produce fruit in your life if you have not addressed the root of the tree. It is for this reason that God seems so preoccupied with the idea of trees in the bible. Good grief, the very first commandment He gave was all about a tree. We’re told every tree that does not produce the right fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Jesus likened himself to a “green tree” on his way to the cross. And even in the last book of the Bible we are given permission to eat of the other tree (the one we got locked out of in the garden) IF we are of those who overcome.
What is this cloud that produces rain?
What is this root that produces fruit?
The answer is… BELIEF
I know, I know. We have all been told that this sort of approach is more about “positive” thinking and new age religion, but if you take a moment to think about it…
If you believe you are ‘saved’, does your fear about life after death not become affected by that belief?
If you believe you are the sexiest person in the room, do you not act more confidently?
If you believe you can’t learn a new skill, will you ever actually try to learn it?
If you believe, I mean REALLY believe you can fly, would you not feel free to jump off of a skyscraper?
Getting more serious…
If you believe you are nothing but a sinner, will you not continue to struggle with sin?
If you believe God is still angry with you, will you have difficulty accepting His love?
If you believe you can NEVER understand the bible, do you think you could ever even get close?
On the other hand…
If you believe you are righteous, will you not begin to produce the fruit of righteousness?
If you believe you are perfected (past tense), will that not produce a confidence in who you really are?
If you believe that you CAN know the mind of God, is it possible that He will show you deep truths?
You see, the principle that we all confess (yet often don’t understand) is that, “It is not by might, nor by power, but by [His] Spirit.” And we know that there is nothing we can do to “earn” our ticket to heaven. Hebrews tells us that, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” As a matter of fact, we all instinctively know how God works because He forgave each one of us of all of our sins before we became “saved”, and there was nothing we had to DO except BELIEVE it.
So why, once we are saved, do we feel like we have to earn the right to keep our ticket to heaven? Why do we get told that all of our sins before our salvation were forgiven with one prayer, but any “new” sins have to be individually confessed to keep our slate clean?
The reason we have been lead down this religious path of the Pharisees is two-fold.
1) Misinterpretation of Scripture – We live in a world of theologians who, for the most part, have been taught by other theologians. A mentor of mine once told me, “The only difference between a theologian and a man of God is who his teacher is.” As such, when St. Augustine told us over 1500 years ago that we would always struggle with sin, we now had a new interpretation of the apparently un-FINISHED work of Christ that has guided the church ever since.
2) Failing to Understand the Process of Faith – When Christ tells you to, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” do you think He was telling you “Try harder to not be such a loser?” Do you think He was giving you a goal to aim for but never achieve? Or do you think He not only meant it as something possible to BE, but He actually expected you to BE perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect?
Not sure how to answer these questions?
Why not at least consider the thought that maybe; just maybe, the FINISHED work of Christ is indeed FINISHED? And if it is finished, then maybe there isn’t anything missing from your ability to be perfect.
NOTHING MISSING… except the fact that you don’t BELIEVE it.
Austin is just your average Christian who wants to play his part in changing the world. He is the Executive Director of Epoch, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the true ‘Body of Christ’ out of the age of exclusion and into the age of inclusion. He believes that everyone on the planet has a part to play in the family of God, and his passion is to help people find out exactly what that part is in their own life. He currently resides in Traverse City, Michigan, USA with his wife Joanie and his two dogs, Hops and Barley… and yes, he likes beer.
See all previous articles by Austin Fletcher