During December Nights, Northstar gave out copies of The Case for Christmas by Lee Strobel. I began reading this thin volume the other day while waiting in the car rider line. Lee opens by sharing an encounter he had with a small family, a grandmother, Perfecta and her two granddaughters, Jenny and Lydia, the Delgados. Lee shares that this family was one of Chicago’s neediest. They lived in a tiny two-room apartment with very few possessions and nearly no food. The girls, Jenny and Lydia, only had one dress each and shared one sweatshirt (Strobel, 7). Lee observed that, despite this, Perfecta, the grandmother had a confident faith in Jesus. Instead of self-pity or despair, she had hope and peace (Strobel, 8).
For Lee, his encounter with Delgados would lead him to seek who was in the manger on that first Christmas morning. His quest to find the answer would become the most important endeavor of his life (Strobel, 12).
Like it did with Lee, the story of the Delgados leaves an impression on me and it leaves me asking questions. For me, the Delgados’ story leads me to ask, would I have the same confident faith? Would my faith leave the same impression on someone? Would they walk away wondering about Jesus?
The bible tells us, “faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). And I love Priscilla Shirer’s simple definition of faith from Armor of God. She shares that faith is an action. Faith is acting like God is telling the truth. It is choosing to act in accordance with truth despite the fact that you can’t see what the outcome will be (Shirer, 127). Priscilla’s father, Dr. Tony Evans, puts it even more simply. He says faith is acting like it is so, even when it is not so, so that it might be so, simply because God said so (Shirer, 127).
Parents, have you ever told your kids, “because I said so?” When we say this to our children we want them to trust us and do what we have asked. In the same way, our Heavenly Father wants us to trust His Word and do what He has asked, to live like He is telling the truth.
Do I live like He is telling the truth? Not always. When I choose to worry instead of pray; when I allow what is happening around me to steal my joy; when I don’t give because I am afraid there wouldn’t be enough left over for myself; when I choose pride over forgiveness. When I live this way, I live faithless.
Priscilla shares this about faithfulness: good faith is rooted in a good God (Shirer, 140). She points out Jesus’ response to the apostles when they asked how they might increase their faith, “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ And the Lord said, ‘If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you (Luke 17:5-6).'” Priscilla shares a little faith is all you need when it’s firmly planted in the right Person. “Good faith” isn’t a certain size or strength, it’s simply faith that’s directed at and rooted in a good God (Shirer, 140).
I don’t need more faith to live faithful life. My faith is based on who God is, not who I am. If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself (Timothy 2:13). Do I believe that God is good? Do I believe that He is all powerful? Yes. Then, I must act like it is so.
During those faithless times, I take comfort from the psalmist’s words, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26). And from the words of Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
At Christmas, we rejoice in the gift that God gave the world. My flesh will fail. But, because of the gift that God gave the world through Jesus and the cross, I no longer have to live by my flesh. He is alive in me and I can live a life that reflects that. A faithful life.
Thank You for always being faithful. Because of Your unfailing, prefect love You sent Your Son, Jesus. Help us to have a faith that is rooted and grounded in love, in who You are. Strengthen us when we are weak; when we are acting on what we see. Help us act like You are telling the truth, because Your Word is Truth. I pray that by living faithful lives for You, we will show others wondering and in awe of You.