Why is faith such hard work?

Baby at Beach
Even after a terrifying tumble in the surf,
first-timer Joey had only one thing to say:
2. “We’re at the BEACH!”

I know three reasons why faith seems like hard work … and I know a little child who reminded me why it shouldn’t be.

1. When bad things happen, it’s hard to trust that your interests and God’s coincide. You’ve lost your job. Your spouse has walked out. You’ve learned that your illness is serious — or terminal. This can’t possibly be in your own best interest. So how can a good and loving God be in the driver’s seat?

2. The Bible says to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) and that sounds like not just a lot of work but something that most people would rather avoid. People say that “courage is fear that keeps going forward.” But how many of us are ready for a God who needs courage just to believe in what He says?

3. Someone told you, “I’d rather burn out for Jesus than rust out.” And you really aren’t up for spiritual burnout. You never thought enough about the metaphor to realize: this should not be an either-or proposition. When it comes to your car, you burn it out by overuse without proper maintenance. You rust it out by disuse without proper maintenance. In other words — the way to keep in good condition for Jesus is proper maintenance. Which isn’t hard work; it’s just steady good habits. So you’re ready when He turns on the ignition.

What a little child taught me:

Today, I’m remembering one of my first visits to the North Carolina shore, for my husband’s family reunion.

The Byron tribe crowded into a waterfront beach cottage every two summers for more than twenty years — long enough for cousins to watch each other grow up; long enough for uncles to establish standing jokes; long enough for tiny babies and new spouses, like me, to join the clan.

This particular year was Joey’s first visit to the beach, and he was excited. An “inlander” from central Pennsylvania, not yet two years old, the tiny blond boy had never seen or heard anything like the white ruffled surf rushing up and down the shore. He toddled across the sand, his diaper sagging, holding his mother’s hand and calling out with excitement every time a wave crashed.

Suddenly, the excitement became more than he could bear. He broke loose from his mother and ran directly into the white waters … which tumbled his tiny body tail over teakettle before his terrified mother could rescue him and stand him safely on his feet.

A soaked and sand-blasted Joey was entirely unfazed. He threw his arms into the air and his face to the sky and crowed: “We’re at the BEACH!”

Like Joey, we’ve entered the waters. And perhaps, like him, we do best to set human wisdom aside, trust in our loving God and our loving clan, and rejoice in the tumultuous seas.

We’re living in CHRIST!! Dive in!

Have you ever treated life as an adventure when the waters got rough?


About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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