skeptical woman

Reading the Fine Print of Your Faith

Sometimes I think I’ve bitten off a bit more than I can chew when it comes to my Christian faith. When I gave my life to Christ, I knew that I needed God’s promises of unconditional love and forgiveness like I need air.

The Bible lays out so many great promises—eternal life, abundant joy, strength for the weak, rest for the weary—it sounded to me like a crazy good insurance plan! I said yes, I’m ALL in!

HOWEVER, when I made this fabulous commitment to Christ, I didn’t read the fine print.

Who Has Time for Fine Print?

Do any of us read all the fine print on software agreements? Really, just think of the last software agreement you approved when the pop-up said, “Update needed.” Just before downloading, there are these little buttons that say “Agree” and “Disagree,” with the option to have an e-mail sent with the 1,365 pages of legalese.

Who has time for that? We just want what we think we need, so we select “Agree,” skip the fine print, and BINGO, it’s all good.

Or so we may think.

We don’t consider the spiritual fine print until something invades our lives and our human software is tested. I have no doubt that in some area of your life, these words of truth—God’s essential fine print—are needed for you as well.

Where God’s Fine Print Begins

It usually begins when something we believe collides with something we experience, and we think God has not followed through or helped. Our operating system needs upgrading.

Of course, there is a fundamental difference between electronic upgrades and trusting God with our lives—God’s fine print addresses our hardwired, willful human nature. The fine print—God’s Word—is binding, but we often forget to read—and apply—it. When Christ upgrades our operating system, it’s essential for life because without Him, we are destined for destruction. Even after we “agree” to God’s terms and conditions in Jesus Christ, we need sanctification updates—the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the conviction and instruction of the Word, the sharpening of our Christian community—to keep us functioning in dependence on Him. After all, apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

In recent months, God has been upgrading my hardwired soul far more extensively than a software tweak. It started at the copy machine.

Words that Suck the Air from Your Soul

My coworker friend asked how I was healing from back surgery. She had been praying for my mom, sister, and me because all of us had the same enormously painful but necessary back surgery last year. She shared that she had watched it all because she needed the same surgery and was in debilitating pain. We had done so well, she said, and the surgeon’s work was so good that she was willing to try. I gave her the phone number, cheered her on, calmed her fears, told her she was going to feel so much better, and prayed for God to heal her in every way.

Days before surgery she said, “I’m afraid, but I know that whatever happens will be for God’s glory . . . He will be faithful” . . . and off she went.

My friend’s surgery was on a Friday, and I planned to visit Saturday. Early Saturday morning, my doorbell rang unexpectedly. Mom and dad had been to the hospital already . . . their eyes looked hollow, their voices were frail. Then I heard mom say, “Colleen, she’s gone . . . she didn’t make it . . . she’s gone.”

woman crying
Image from Photodune.

Ever been hit with news that sucks air from your soul so deep, everything is blurry and your mind is spinning?

I had given my friend the surgeon’s number, encouraged her, churned over the “if onlys” and “what ifs” with her. We had prayed hard for her full healing, freedom from all pain, and that God would restore and renew her mind/body/spirit. God answered every prayer in abundance—He had fully released her from excruciating pain.

She was free indeed.

Reflection on the Fine Print of Faith

The fragility and finality of life has a way of waking us up to much of God’s fine print. Fundamentally, to live by faith and follow Christ, we must begin with dying to ourselves. That’s easy to say, but we’re hardwired to avoid death to self. Jesus said it this way:

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (Matthew 10:39)

The verse begins with clinging to the cares and comforts of this life, clinging to our willful ways, assumed rights, and personal space. The paradox can be maddening.

That’s why the fine print of faith takes us to the end of ourselves. It must start with accepting life’s cruciblesits array of sorrows and lossesand welcoming its challenges, trusting God to bring us through. But we want to pick and choose what to surrender to God; when faced with giving Him our greatest fears and deepest loves, we get a little snippy.

But to be fully free here, the fine print binds us to surrender everything to Him. I didn’t want to say goodbye to my friend; I wanted her healing to be on earth.

He delivered her His way. The best way wasn’t my way.

Let Me Hear from You

In need of some updates in your soul? God’s fine print calls us all to walk by faith, not by sight; to give over everything to Christ as He gave His life for us. “Everything” means your mate, your friends, your children, job, health, comforts, wants, desires, assumptions, expectations, plans—they’re all His. It’s a daily choice, a hard choice; it’s also the foundation of reframing our lives.

This next week, let’s talk over where you are in the fine print of faith. What one or two areas do you need to release? Let’s do this together.

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