The Faith Count… November 27, 2011

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Charlotte, North Carolina

I woke up with a sore throat.

I haven’t had a cold in two years so let me be the first one to say that I’m grateful for the reprieve from such escapades and appreciative of the ability to use all my faculties to communicate my message. For 181 shows this year, I’ve been able to dip into my talent, ability and confidence to propel the notions and inspiration that have been granted to me to share with my fellow-travelers.

Today my throat is sore. Before me are two programs for St. John’s United Methodist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. So what should my profile be? I still have a voice–that’s good. I just don’t have a sense of my talent, ability and confidence. That leaves me with my faith.

It is amazing what we discover about the true nature of our faith when our talent, ability and confidence have been shaken–because there are a lot of scriptures that tell us that God’s grace is sufficient for us. But I am staring down at a line-up of songs and stories that require more than my particular belief in God’s grace. I could piously tell you that I am completely reassured that the presence of God will be enough for me in my morning’s activities, and even though that statement would not be a lie, it also would not be completely forthcoming.

I find that a good portion of my faith in God is wrapped up in my ability, talent and confidence. I guess there are theologians that would object to such an assertion as being faithless–or even anti-God. I don’t know. I’ve just never been a “let go, let God” person. And allow me be so presumptuous as to say that most of us aren’t. Unlike the typical student of the Bible, when I run across something that most humans are NOT comfortable in performing, rather than assuming we are depraved and indifferent, I choose to consider the fact that maybe some of the ideas we have about God and life are ill-informed.

I think it’s an issue of the faith count. For instance, in today’s programs, I believe I truly will have to have faith that God will be with me as I share. But I also need to count the cost and take a good assessment of my talent, ability and the confidence I possess. False spirituality is the belief that how we are created and how we act is an abomination to God.

Would I rather not have a sore throat? Absolutely. Would I rather have my ability, talent and confidence at 100%? Darned tootin’. I am not thrilled to be less. But what I CAN be is overjoyed that wisdom trumps it all–and all wisdom is given by God to those who will ask.

So even though my talent, ability and confidence may be shaken a bit, if I will use a little wisdom to count the cost and truly decide what I can and cannot do, I therefore am able to present God with a possibility which He is able to bless. For after all, God has no intention of doing it all, nor does He particularly favor being left out. He rather likes our partnership.

So even though my throat is sore, I can still speak and I still have some talent and ability–and if I choose the right things to do instead of over-extending myself, my confidence should reappear.  This gives God the chance of surprising me with the ability to do more than I thought I could, yet without dumping the entire gig on Him.

It is the faith count. I will count factually what I think I can do, reestablishing my talent, ability and confidence, and then place it in God’s hands for His brilliant distribution. It’s the five loaves and two fishes brought my me to feed the five thousand. It’s the woman touching the hem of Jesus’ garment for healing. It is the decision that Jesus made not to tempt the Lord his God, but rather, use what he had instead of trying to jump off the pinnacle of the temple. Yes, I shall not jump off the steeple of St. John’s United Methodist Church. Instead, I will take what God has given me on this Sunday morning and use it as efficiently and wisely as possible. But I will do so by taking an accurate count of my talent, ability and confidence.

It is the faith count--and like everything else that is truly spiritual, it is the intelligent blending of the human with the Divine.

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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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