A couple years ago, through the kindness of a friend, I found myself sitting with publishers and literary agents, pitching a book of my stories about rediscovering faith.
I believed it was a divine appointment so I walked in confidently.
I walked out doubting.
An experienced literary agent gave life to the quiet whisper I’d been trying to ignore: “Who do you think you are?”
Her experience compelled her to explain the publishing world to my naïve dream: editors look for the 3 C’s – concept, craft, and crowd. While she conceded my professional writing experience indicated I might have the craft, she encouraged me to do the work of building a platform and creating a crowd of readers to prove myself.
Rather than accept her criticism as constructive, I felt wounded and defeated. I wove her feedback into the narrative of unbelief stifling my dream.
I had walked in with my soul on paper, my heart in my hands, fully believing God was authoring a really spectacular story.
As I flew home, I placed my dream back in a box marked “someday.”
I shuttered my heart in a vain attempt to guard it from further hurt.
But what if, in the process of guarding our hearts, we lose heart?
It’s scary to name the heart-breaking parts of the life of faith. I say I believe, and yet I spend a fair amount of time trying not to get my hopes up, managing my expectations, or avoiding disappointment.
Along the way, protecting my heart stifles my faith.
I think that’s when the shift happens.
It’s subtle, but I move from living what I believe to believing what I live. The defining narrative of my life is written by my experience and emotion rather than the Truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On Good Friday, I imagine those who loved Jesus were desperate. They longed to believe but as they watched the scenes unfolding before their eyes, emotions no doubt overwhelmed.
Unbelief found a foothold on Friday.
Peter, the very man who told Jesus, “Lord where else would we go? You hold the words of life and truth!” would deny Jesus three times.
Saturday must have felt bleak and barren. We have ample record of the joy upon discovering the empty tomb Sunday, but sometimes I wish we knew more about Saturday.
I think Saturday is the day that those early followers of Jesus glimpsed the subtle shift between living what you believe and believing what you live.
What they were living didn’t look like what they expected.
What they saw didn’t seem to line up with the faith they had professed.
If Good Friday made a mockery of Jesus’ outrageous claims, Saturday found the disciples asking, “What do we believe?”
The gospel remains superficial when it’s limited to what we see.
The question before the disciples on Saturday is the same one believers face today when we don’t yet see Easter’s dawn in our own lives.
They had a choice on Saturday: to believe what they were living: the death and burial of Jesus…. or to live what they believed: Jesus is the Son of God, the Way, the Truth, the Life.
At the first light of dawn Sunday, Mary Magdalene and Mary went to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. The earth shook violently. An angel of the Lord appeared and rolled away the stone, revealing an empty tomb.
Celebrating Easter means I can acknowledge tough questions of Saturday in my life. I can simultaneously own the disappointment, the unanswered prayers, the doubt, and the hurt while also steadfastly believing the Truth of the gospel.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”(Hebrews 11:1 ESV)
This weekend, as we celebrate Easter, consider where you’ve allowed unbelief shift the narrative of your faith.
What do you believe? Are you living it?
In the process of guarding your heart, have you lost heart?
Roll the stone away.
A shuttered heart can’t receive the light of Life.
Nearly three years ago, I heard the agent say, “Prove yourself.”
Because of Easter, I say:
I am who God says I am. I don’t have to prove myself.
I know Whom I have believed. He is able.
Happy Easter! He is RISEN.
Verses to Consider: Matthew 28; Hebrews 11