By Chris Bates
Kevin and I left before dawn to go fishing at his uncle’s place not too far away. We launched my boat, checked our reels and lures, then started down the shoreline as the summer sun started to rise. He had told me that it was a beautiful, secluded place, but I had no idea how right he was. I’ve hunted and fished all over Mississippi, the south, and the world, but this lake was as breathtaking as any that I have seen. Old standing cypress still covered in Spanish moss stood in shallow coves in several places, and the age-old hardwoods surrounding the entire lake were as beautiful as it gets in the old south.
We caught lots of big fish, watched deer and turkeys at different times of the morning, and saw an active eagles nest. As we went, he told me more about how his uncle bought it years ago as investment property, and that it was only visited by members of the family or close friends a very few times each year. I was almost saddened that it was so underused and struck by how they were missing out on the enjoyment of lake life at one of most beautiful places that I have seen in the entire state.
Consider this question: So we have faith. Now what? In a recent service, I was reminded we are not saved by the works that we do, but are moved by the Spirit once we are saved and get to do works in joyful celebration and gratitude for our salvation. We are freely given the ultimate gifts of grace, forgiveness, and salvation, and have countless opportunities around us to gratefully serve. You and I and all that accept Christ can do what connects us most with His will for us, which is to do as Matthew 22:37-39 tell us: To love the Lord our God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves. So, all that we are supposed to do is take advantage of the endless possibilities around us, right? Those opportunities are very much like the under-visited beautiful lake getaway. Walking in faith helps us to visit those places.
If walking in faith means taking advantage of those opportunities, then what are those for you and me? Maybe that scenic, secluded place that we are not visiting often enough is the chance to lift up someone in our family, or a co-worker, or a friend.
This is for certain; there are chances around each of us every day. When someone is ill or struggling, those times of need are more obvious and are important. By being in community with fellow disciples, chances to serve may come our way through church, small groups, and organizations working to fulfill ongoing needs.
What may not be as obvious are the quieter, smaller ways to carry out deeds of brotherly love. A practice that I find helpful is to start most of my workdays with just a few moments to jot down goals and gratitude items for the day in a ledger at my desk. It is a quick and easy routine, and it often leads to thinking of things that can be done for others. Be challenged to find your own ways to be deliberate about walking in faith each day.
The Word emphasizes for us in many passages how we are to handle deeds related to our faith, and few are as direct as James. In James 2:17-18 he tells us, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” What a challenge that is to each of us, to show our faith by what we do, and that our faith is hollow when we do not put it into action.
Hopefully, our response to “Now what?” is to better open our eyes and our hearts to the opportunities around us, prayerfully seek them, and then take action as we walk in faith. In his song Walk By Faith, Jeremy Camp relates, “Will I receive the words you say, every moment of every day? Well, I will walk by faith, even when I cannot see.”
Let’s look around us for those amazing places to serve and go to them. We will find Him there.
Chris is President & Founder of Agora Company, a marketing, website, and advertising company based in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraCompany.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.