Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Blind Landings - Olympian Faith

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing 
love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the
LORD, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)

I love watching the Olympics. My heart leaps hurdles with a good performance and
dives in agony when an athlete falls. My eyes were glued to the flying high-bar
performers, and the incredible men’s flares on the pommel horse. I marvel how
anyone can jump off the ground and do a double somersault with a twist.

Then there were the tiny pixies performing perilous feats on a four-inch bar that I
couldn’t even hope to attempt on the ground! "Look at her toss her head back," one
announcer said. "That’s an added degree of difficulty because she can’t see the
beam." Indeed many gymnasts performed a variety of blind landings with confidence
and poise. Though they could not see the beam, they knew exactly where it was as
they somersaulted, twisted and turned.

I find life, too, is full of blind landings. Circumstances pull our heads back or leave us
tumbling through the air, hoping we’ll land safely, though landing at all seems a
perilous journey.

Where do athletes find their confidence? They train. They accept instruction from
their coaches. They focus their minds. And when they fall, they get up again.

Where is our confidence? Proverbs 3:26 says the Lord will be our confidence. We
sometimes fall, but in Christ we have a certain landing spot. 1 John 4:16 says that we
rely on the love God has for us. While the balance beam is only 4" wide, the width of
God’s love is boundless.

Hebrews 4:16 declares that we can approach God with confidence, knowing we’ll
find mercy and grace in our time of need. Christ gives us His righteousness, and "the
effect of righteousness is quietness and confidence." (Isaiah 32:17)

This last word for confidence means a place of refuge—both the fact and the feeling
of safety. Do we dwell in that refuge? I have to confess that I only do sometimes.
God never wavers, and I am always truly safe in Him, but sometimes I forget.
Sometimes I neglect the disciplines of being in training. I don’t work to focus my
mind. My faith becomes flabby instead of continuing to seek God.

But God is a fortress, a refuge, a place where we find rest, a God whom we can
trust. "So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What
can man do to me?’" (Hebrews 13:6)

You might answer, "Man can do an awful lot to me!" Here I think the King James
Version is helpful, as it translates this passage, "I will not fear what man shall do to
me." Why? Because God, and not this world, is my refuge. This echoes David’s
proclamation in Psalm 27:3 that "Though war break out, even then will I be
confident." Solid. Steadfast. Unwavering on the beam of God’s love.

Perhaps your confidence has faltered from a fall. It’s ok. Get back up. We can be
"confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to
completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil. 1:6) This is the verse I cling to when I
can’t understand what God is doing in Dave’s life. No illness or sin issue or failure or
tragic life circumstance can thwart this plan of God’s. The "confidence" in this verse
means to rely by inward certainty. To believe.

Confidence really unwraps the word "faith" for us. So often we think faith is like
hoping there might be a place to land sometime. It’s shrouded in uncertainty. But faith
truly is confidence; it’s "being sure of what you hope for, and certain of what you do
not see." It is coming to God, believing "that He exists and that He rewards those
who earnestly seek Him." (Hebrews 11:1, 6)

God is coming again; this world is not all we live for. Our reward is in heaven. Let’s
diligently seek Him like an athlete in training. Let’s fix our eyes on Him, listen to wise
counsel—and when we fall, get up again.

We live in a world that can be shaken, a world where mountains crumble and fall into
the sea, a world of wars where we can be besieged. What we have faith and
confidence in, what we rely on must be stronger than this world. In God we have a
love so sure that the world can literally fall apart, and His love is still real, immovable,
ever present. We are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken from a God who
cannot be shaken. Have confidence in Him. Rely on His love for us.

May we be solid. Steadfast. Unwavering on the boundless beam of God’s unfailing

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