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.

skeptical woman
Image from Photodune.

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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6 thoughts on “Reading the Fine Print of Your Faith

  1. First, I am so sorry to hear about your friend! I can’t even imagine how hard this has been for you. Praying God will continue to comfort your heart and soul! God has for a long time been working on my heart to release my son Ryan. He has Duchennes MD. God has not done what I thought he would do in Ryans life….. lol.. imagine that, he isn’t doing things the way I think he should! This past year has been especially hard and God has been working on me to let go of my expectations for what I think Ryans life should look like. It has been an ongoing difficult process. I think my way would be best. Unfortunately God has other plans and I have had to let go and trust him. he knows what is best. To make a long story short God hit me hard about 6 weeks ago. I went into my sons room to start dressing him and getting him settled into his wheelchair for the day. I heard God speak to me as clear as if you we were talking face to face. As I was leaning over Ryan, rolling him to dress him God said ” who are you to decide what is valuable? Who are you to decide what is best for Ryan? Who are you to say how I can and can’t use Ryans life? TRUST ME to know what is best! I AM using Ryans life in ways you can not see……” I stopped what i was doing and just stood there. I had NO DOUBT God was speaking to me. I broke out in tears and then later had to ask God to forgive me. It has brought peace and calm in my heart like I haven’t had in the past year. Have you ever heard Gods voice so clearly? Whenever my mind starts to wonder back I remind myself again what God spoke so clearly to my heart. HIS way is best! HIS thoughts are higher than mine! I could say much more but I will stop there!

    • Donna, what an amazing statement of your faith right here. I know you don’t feel the depth of your faith, but as I read your words, they resound with honor and praise to our Lord. I know other’s who have heard the Lord’s voice so clearly, though I have not; I never, ever doubt that He knows each of us so well and what we need. He knew you needed His care and close attention so vividly that He did speak to you and what a change its brought about. WOW. There have been many days when I just want to ask the Lord if He needed a little helping hand…aka…to have life go the way I preferred rather than as He was leading. As always, such requests are met with His mercy and grace; and they are so humbling as we find His path was and is always right. In fact, He has used you and Ryan to speak into my life today….so yes, our sovereign Lord IS using Ryan and you. So often we think God is at work if we see this or that come about when actaully, He is always attending to our needs, doing what is most loving and best for us in spite of what we may see or feel. So may you be blessed in abundance today as you walk in a new freedom that your Lord is loving you so very much through the ups and downs. Thank you again, so very much, for warming my heart and encouraging my soul today. Wonderful to hear from you!!!! Colleen

  2. Wow, I’m so sorry to hear about your lost of a good friend. It sounds theologically right and spiritually strong to trust God providing the ultimate healing for your friend by welcoming her home to glory. But for her friends and family on this side of time, the heartache is real. We pray for one thing and God gives us “the next Best” thing that we can’t quite comprehend. Yes, His ways are certainly not our ways”. But His ways are always right and righteous. That’s why we can trust him to work out all things together for our good. I pray your heart, mind, body, spirit and soul heals from the balm in Gilead and the Holy Spirit in you.
    God is faithful and too wise to make a mistake, and we just have to accept the “fine print of faith” that declares His will shall be done and for our ultimate good.
    Peace and Prayers to you my sister,

    Anthony B. west

    • Anthony, It’s so good to connect with you-it’s been quite some time and if I remember correctly, you were in some really tough circumstances. I want you to know I’ve prayed for you as you have come to mind over the months. Your note is so kind, thank you. We were all so very sad because she was so loved at our office. And, like you said, on this side of heaven, the loss is never something we ‘get over’…we do move on but there remains a special spot that only could be filled by her. So I fully agree, it was not what we expected and His ways are certainly not mine but they are always allowed through His unconditional love for us. Sometimes it doesn’t feel all that loving, does it. I appreciate your balanced perspective here and thank you for your wonderful comfort. I would love to hear how you are doing when you have a moment. I’ll keep praying until then. Kindly and Gratefully, Colleen

      • Colleen;
        I’ve joined a support group for family and caregivers of people with Bipolar disorders at The Hope Center (the organization you suggested) and this has helped provide me with an outlet to talk with others about my struggles caring for my wife. I’m also in counseling with a highly qualified conselor and this has really helped me as well. My wife at this writing is not taking her meds as needed and her behavior is irrational and combative. If she does not begin to take her medications soon, she will need to be hospitalized aagain (21 times over the last 15 years and counting).
        My job is even more stressful than before (all types of personnel issues) but I’m able to handle things surprisingly well; I’m emotionally balanced and stable (at least on the outside). I’m really struggling spiritually to understand why my storm continues to intensify as wave after wave of “stuff” happes in my life. I know God loves me but I don’t feel loved right now.
        Well, that’s my update so please continue to pray for me and my wife (Kelly).

        • Anthony,
          What an incredible report!!!! I’m thrilled to hear you have healthy, wise people in your corner to support, encourage, uplift, listen, and care for your needs. In spite of the circumstances getting harder, you now are set up for success in that your strength is growing THROUGH the storms. I can hear so much more resilience, dependence upon other’s and our Lord, and a voice of strength replacing the voice of defeat and despair. That is so wonderful. And yes, I know it is NOT wonderful that the storm remains and even intensifies but with the care you are given, you will be equipped to care for others in your situation. There are so, so many who suffer as you have suffered. In fact, I just received a package from Joni and Friends with a new publication called “The Beyond Suffering Bible”…the FIRST Bible made for those specifically suffering and the people who care and love them. If anyone knows suffering on this level, it’s Joni. In it, the card says ‘roughly 65 MILLION Americans provide care for someone with a disability or chronic illness, 1 in 6 Americans are dealing with chronic health conditions”; in my opinion, Anthony, God is preparing you to be used by Him in more lives than you can imagine. Not that it really means anything to you becaue suffering is so hard and humbling, one does not care about numbers. However, from knowing you here and knowing a few pieces of your story, I believe your faithfulness and endurance has produced in you a deeper, stronger character needed in this lost world. You are succeeding, you are enduring, you are obeying, you are doing all you can and that is to be applauded. I pray you will continue to be encouraged, held up by our sovereign God in every way. I wish we could control the choices of others as they hurt us but the reality is, we can’t. So while we will pray for your wife to humble herself and do as she needs, she may indeed choose not to. I am so sorry if that does continue. In and through it all, your faithfulness will be rewarded. I don’t know how or when or if in this life you will see the fruit of your labor; I do know God will be faithful as you remain obedient to His call on your life. Anthony, I’m absolutely thrilled to hear from you! This is the most delightful part of my work…to connect and care and see how God works things through. I have just listened to my dad’s broadcast this week on Matthew 7…I urge you to hear it. You may already have…he talks of being obedient, knocking, seeking, asking, and waiting for His will to work itself out in His appointed time. May the Lord lift you higher in your spirits as you press on. Thank you, thank you for your note. Never hesitate to write-on a good day or bad-I’m here to cheer you on! Have a blessed day and I thoroughly admire your integrity. Colleen