By Al Mansfield

Just over a year ago, November 3, 2017, to be exact, I was praying. I was very concerned about some things in the Church, in our country and in the world. I admit that I was tending to feel somewhat discouraged and lacking in faith and hope. Then I was surprised to sense the Lord speaking a word to my heart. The following is what I heard:

Am I not the Lord God of all flesh? Are not the times and seasons in my hands? Do not the skies and the waters and the earth obey my command? Is anything too difficult for me, says the Lord.

You mourn and weep over my Body, the Church, but do not mourn and weep as those who have no faith. You grieve over my Body, the Church, but do not grieve as those who have no hope.

I say to you, look to who I am, says the Lord. Keep faith with me and in me. Let your faith rise when all else would pull you down. Let your faith neither falter nor fail. For your faith is in a living God. Your faith is in an all-knowing and all-wise God. Your faith is in an all-powerful God. Your faith is in an all-loving God. I am never shocked; I am never surprised; I am never caught off-guard; I am never unprepared, says the Lord.

In me are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Take hold of me by faith. Let your faith rise. Let your faith rise. Let your faith rise. I am the victor, says the Lord. Keep faith with my victory, says the Lord. Rejoice in my victory and your faith will be your victory as well.

For my Holy Spirit is strong. My Holy Spirit is fierce. My Holy Spirit is tenacious. My Holy Spirit is zealous for my glory. My Holy Spirit is not mocked. Do not grieve my Holy Spirit. Do not grieve or anger the Lord God who gives you His Holy Spirit. Yield to my Holy Spirit, says the Lord, and let your faith rise up!

In this word I felt like the Lord was chiding me and challenging me to exercise greater faith. In fact, it seems that the Lord is rather consistently chiding and challenging me, and I believe all of us, to exercise greater faith.

To exercise faith in the midst of the kinds of issues we face in the Church and in the world doesn’t mean that we don’t face reality or remain in ignorance or denial. But it does mean that we “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). It means letting God’s word, rather than our own thoughts and feelings, rule our lives.

To exercise faith means actually living our lives day by day based on the truths that we profess to believe: that God exists; that God is a loving Father; that Jesus came and shed his blood on the cross and rose again for our salvation; that God’s own love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit; that God promises to make all things work together unto good for those who love him; that we are destined to share in Christ’s ultimate victory over sin and death.

I wish I could tell you that all it took was receiving this word and I never again yielded to discouragement or negative thinking. Alas, that would not be quite accurate. In fact, it was embarrassing for me to listen to others quote this word back to me, saying how much it helped them (while I myself was still struggling). But I share it here this month with the hope that it will challenge me anew, and perhaps benefit others as well.

With prayers and best wishes for a blessed Advent and Christmas Season for you and yours!