Breaking the Habit of Unbelief
Why am I awake at 3 am writing about the habit of unbelief?
Well, we could be superstitious and assume I just wasn’t sleeping well. But I was sleeping well. And this is usually how it works, at least for me.
You are welcome to doubt this. And I suspect some might. But I believe it because it happens to me often. Experience encourages my belief. And with 3 days until Christmas, the celebratory season of a virgin birth, that produced a child, who grew up and became a blameless man who would die a criminal’s death, oh, and then He would rise from the dead; this is an excellent time to remind me and you, about rogue faith instead of habitual credence.
Heaven forbid I be a “Doubting Thomas,” about that. But in every other aspect of my faith walk, there is plenty of room to question, and I propose those questions become a habit. And what is a habit?
Good or bad, a habit is a sanctuary of the commonplace, easy to digest, 1+1=2, routine behaviors.
And I don’t want my faith in the aforementioned Savior of the World to ever be mundane.
But I have come to wholly believe, unbelief is easier to make a habit.
Truly, if I am not expecting God to be bigger than what I can comprehend, I am only expecting a tedious existence, one where He sometimes interacts with me, or maybe it is just some leftover chili, I had for lunch that isn’t sitting right.
[bctt tweet=”Good or bad, a habit is a sanctuary of the commonplace, easy to digest, 1+1=2, routine behaviors. #believe” username=”httpstwittercomjamiamerine”]
So, I could explain this away, be suspicious of His investment in my everyday life, or I could tell you a crazy story of rogue faith and make it into a blog post at 3 o’clock in the morning.
I pick B.
It happened yesterday morning in the parking lot of some random superstore where I was picking up another last-minute gift. My Marine baby is home for Christmas and he borrowed the teen baby’s car to retrieve his bride in West Texas. This meant the teen baby needed to borrow my car, leaving me to run errands in my husband, Justin’s truck. And there I stood. My arms loaded down with sweet surprises, standing next to this enormous 4×4 trying to open a door, with only my presence.
This is habitually how I get into my car.
However, this rule doesn’t apply to Justin’s pickup.
My car automatically unlocks when I touch the door handle. And this luxury is, apparently a habit. So, I foolishly stood by the driver’s side door of Justin’s truck, anxiously waiting for something to happen because I was in the vehicle’s midst.
After an awkwardly lengthy stall, I remembered that Justin’s truck doesn’t care how long I stand there, I would have to insert the key into the door or press a button on his key chain in order to gain entry.
And one would assume, the dance that followed; putting my packages down, digging through my purse and pockets, unlocking the ½ ton Chevy, picking up my packages, loading them into the truck, getting in, shutting the door, and buckling my seatbelt, would have alerted me to the fact, I was not in MY car.
One would have been wrong in that assumption.
My car also starts remotely once I am inside. It sounds fancier than it really is. My car also has this nervous twitch. The windshield wipers turn on at random. It’s like this obnoxious tick no one can diagnose. For no reason, the wipers on my car, consistently make a quick swipe as if to say, “still here if you need me!”
I digress. So now I am sitting in Justin’s truck, waiting for something to happen, just because I am ready to go. Were there a picture, and I thank my Maker there is not, I feel certain I looked like a lost tourist. My mouth slightly open, eyes darting from side to side, with bewilderment painted on my face.
I spoke to the truck, “Hello? Start please?” But nothing happened.
OH YEAH! I have to start Justin’s truck. So, I began randomly pushing buttons, because if my car doesn’t remotely start when I am in its presence, it has a push-button start.
Embarrassed again, as if the truck were human and talking back, “Yo Blondy, insert the key,” I began digging for the keys so I could make the truck go to the next location. So accustomed to my way of doing things, even after unlocking the truck, I carelessly threw the keys into my purse.
And this song and dance was repeated by me at the next 4 stops.
To call me a creature of habit would be an understatement, I am the ambassador of habit.
I reminded myself, out loud no less, “Jami at the next stop someone will be helping you load a large box. Unlock the truck manually, it will not magically happen.”
20 minutes later, there I stood, a brute of a man, holding a bulky box, standing behind me, eventually, politely cleared his throat, to bring me to attention, as I stood to wait for Justin’s truck to behave like my car.
This monotony only escalated when I pulled in the driveway at home and clicked the button on Justin’s keychain to open the back of the vehicle and set off the security alarm. The button I habitually push on my keychain to open my hatchback is not the same button on Justin’s truck.
I am a hard study.
All this to say, I heard the familiar stirring, “this will be a blog post.”
I paid homage to the thought with a sarcastic, “Great.”
The unbelief part isn’t that I would write about my folly, for this is my area of expertise. No, the suspicious part is that the God of my heart would morph it into something teachable. And I don’t claim to be wise, obviously. But I will claim, He is habitual in showing me something and then reminding me at 3 am, why He brought it to my attention.
While that may have been a long way around the horn, this is what I experience with Him in my journey as author and absent-minded, routine behaviorist.
I am no longer suspicious of this, I totally believe.
God has proven Himself routinely. And I know me. I am the kind of girl who is so committed to my banal ways, I can spend 4 hours in my husband’s truck and still expect it to act like my car. And while you may have read and learned too much about me, that experience still isn’t enough to know for certain, all the ways I roll… or sit dumbly waiting to roll, if I would only actually start the vehicle.
They say habits are hard to break and harder to make. But one habit I am currently committed to eliminating is the habit of unbelief.
I submit unbelief is overthinking, doubting or justifying this grand God, who I wholly profess belief in, by categorizing Him as ordinary.
And like any habit, this is easy to do. We are hardwired to expect concrete proofs and truths. If I drop an egg, it falls to the ground. I am confident that will happen, and more than likely I will have a mess to clean up. And this is a fine course of belief in the ways of normal. But I don’t want to be so lackadaisical in my belief, that I forget my Father in Heaven doesn’t play by the same rules.
Parter of seas, healer of the blind, and overcomer of death, those are the things I believe He did. The question is, do I believe He still does? Scripture after scripture invites me to see what God is capable of… but for my brain, and my habit of justification, good old cause, and effect, it is easy to fall back into the old way of doing things. The old way, prior to falling into the arms of grace, mindlessly followed that which I could see, taste, touch, feel, and know.
And my habits were works based beliefs about what I had to do so that He would do A, B.C … or what I like to call an “if/then” Jesus.
More and more, I am getting in the habit of expecting bigger and believing greater, because He asked me to (John 6:29). And, this is not a works-based methodology. Certainly, I don’t have any recourse in making the sacrifice of His body more than it already is. Furthermore, He loves me as I am, and that love was so great, He died to preserve it.
Just like I don’t fall more or less in love with my children when they are good or bad, so too does God adore us unconditionally. At the same time, I certainly do not want my children to be so accustomed to mediocrity that they do not seek to grow and improve.
I do want the work of my parenting to advance them because I love them. This is paramount, I don’t want them to pay me back with their advancements, I want their success to be the bread of my sacrifice.
No strings attached.
But in the ways of habitual belief, there is a stagnation that can occur when I simply get comfortable with familiar faith words and rote traditional behaviors. The occasional nod to something being a “God thing,” instead of the pure bliss of unshakeable belief, followed by true, heart wrenching, praise, “OH MY STARS THAT WAS THE GOD OF ALL MOVING DIRECTLY IN MY LIFE.”
Moreover, I am not even suggesting those moments be broadcast on all my social media channels. Sure, a testimony at the right time and place can lead others to the cross, but I don’t believe that I have to fish for all the men.
And I propose that this can be a habit too. The idea that I must force-feed everyone what I believe so they will be where I am, in the comfort of my habits.
Comfort is the cornerstone of any habit.
I want to move about with ease in my ways. And I want my car to do the exact same thing every time, except for that windshield wiper thing. That is getting old. It is human nature to repeat that which produces a desirable outcome. But this God is not human.
Perhaps it is premature, I mean we have another week before we have to take the unwritten blood oath of New Year’s habit of starting and stopping. But why wait?
Why not start today, behaving like we believe He is who He says He is?
There is no telling how He will surprise and delight us. I am believing Him better and experiencing more of Him since started doing this.
Just the other day, while waiting for some huge news about some of my art I caught myself in the act of unbelief, “it probably won’t happen. Remember, it didn’t happen last time, why would it this time? He probably won’t answer me. It is too good to be true.”
Like snapping a rubber band on a nail bitter’s wrist, I grabbed those thoughts, remotely opened the trunk of a rusty old Chevy Impala, and threw them in and slammed it shut. That way of thinking is not for me. I can live like that, I don’t want to. And while believing in good and praying for blessing can be labeled as prosperity gospel or new age thinking, I am convinced that even tabulating belief is a habit to keep us comfortable.
That’s right, a habit of keeping God in line with religion so we can digest it in bite-sized morsels that which makes perfect sense.
Again, I pose this question, do you believe in a virgin birth and the resurrection of a dead Savior? If you said yes, I highly recommend, getting out of the habit of the lukewarm belief. I am stepping into the unknown, out onto the raging waters, and walk right on past the naysayers and bound up religiously pious and saying, “oh yeah, watch what He does next!”
And, I am creating a new habit, because of He who saves, in believing in big things, watching for Him to move, and giving thanks as if it has already happened.
This is a habit I want to increase.
Jesus be all over you. Love, Jami
Habakkuk 2:1-2 (NASB) “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart, and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved. Then the LORD answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run.”
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