I believe ages ago - while away at a conference - I heard Erwin McManus speak and picked up this copy of Chasing Daylight: Seize the Power of Every Moment. This all took place so long ago that I had no idea this gem was hiding anywhere in the house. This past week as an international student was packing up her things and preparing to move out - my eyes landed on on this book - and I thought - "why not?" Don't know about you - but that is for me - not the usual way I start reading through a book - usually I'm very clear about why I want to read it - and why I want to read it now. But - this one - I opened with a shrug and a "well, okay"
What a treat then to find encouragement upon encouragement as I turned page after page. I couldn't put it down! McManus is a creative type - and leads a church in L.A. called "Mosaic" that has a creative twist to it. I've done a little checking on-line and am pretty tempted to plan a road-trip - wanna come? Let's go this winter - when the weather here is well - quintessential Wisconsin - and after we get to meet the new students who - right now - all over the midwest are packing bags and looking at syllabi and getting ready to leave their homes to move here and start their college careers - or continue them at another school.
There's more to recommend in this book than I can cover in just one post - but I'll cover two specific aspects of McManus's book that really resonated.
No. 1 - He makes a distinction between "first dimension faith" and "second dimension faith" - I'll quote directly from the book which starts on page 73 and continues through to page 83.
As I have lived this journey of faith and served within the community of faith, I have noticed that faith has two practical dimensions, I describe them as first-dimension faith and second dimension faith. First-dimension faith is involved when we step out into any area of trust in God outside our experience, but the challenge set before us is clearly in the realm of possibilities. God is asking us to do something that He has done in the lives of others; we just haven't experienced it. Sometimes it's as practical as God calling us outside our personal experience and comfort zone. ... Most of life's challenges are a test of first-dimension faith. ... The texture of this dimension of faith has everything to do with character. It's about trust in God's character and God's testing your character. That's why you cannot speak about faith without talking about obedience.
On page 74 McManus continues this thought:
The critical issue here is that when we become paralyzed in this first-dimension of faith, we are often told we just didn't believe hard enough. Yet Jesus was saying the opposite. In most cases, first-dimension faith is about obeying what God has already spoken. It is about building our lives and moving forward with confidence fueled by commitment to God's truth.
McManus dedicates all of Chapter 3 - appropriately called "Uncertainty" to really parse out this important "next level" of faith - so he devotes pages and pages to conveying what first dimension faith is all about. On page 81 - he starts to move into discussing second-dimension faith.
When we make the choices necessary to live a life that maximizes first-dimension faith, then the fun really starts. If first-dimension faith takes us outside our experience, second-dimension faith takes us outside the explainable. While first dimension faith sees realities in the realm of possibilities, second-dimension faith sees realities in the realm of impossibilities. In first-dimension faith, the context for miracles is internal. God is working in us and through us. In second-dimension faith, the context is often external. God's hand is clearly all around us.
Okay - so this distinction - however convenient - isn't spelled out in scripture ... you can't flip open your Bibles - all church-camp Bible-drill style to First Bereans and read in chapter 2, verse 22 all about the first and second dimensions of faith. I suppose there isn't a verse in the Bible anywhere that parses out faith in this way - because in God's eyes - these are both just "faith" - or "trusting Him". From a human perspective - sitting here in 2017 at my desk - in a time when faith all too often means "making God say what you want Him to" - the link between faith and obedience - whatever you may want to call it - is key. Without obedience - faith is useless. Think I'm making that up? Check out the second half of James 2. We need to be reminded - that first-dimension faith, or obedience, or follow-through on belief - is the pattern of behavior in our life that will make us Kingdom people God can use in Kingdom ways.
The No. 2 discussion that was fantastic; Jonathan vs. Gideon. Woven in and out of the points of each chapter throughout the book - McManus examines the response of Jonathan, son of King Saul, to the crucial moment 1 Samuel 14 - where Israel is at war - it's not going well for them - and Saul is kind of ... well ... stuck. Saul is stuck - but Jonathan - is not. Jonathan is clear about what needs to happen - and while everyone else is either already stuck with King Saul - or on their way to being stuck with him - while everyone else was literally and figuratively sleeping - Jonathan went out in faith to survey the enemy. From that position - he saw and opportunity - and in faith - he took it - and changed the fate of his country and his people. He compares this response on Jonathan's part to Gideon - who's faith was nowhere near as strong - to the point that Gideon doesn't just test God once - but twice. And even then he goes out with such force - that God sends over 90% of his forces home.
Between these two ideas and discussions - I found my faith continually encouraged page after page.
If you're looking for a book to start reading - you could do far worse than by picking this book up.