Beyond Belief

Thursday E-mail - May 13, 2010
via Hollywood Connect http://hollywoodconnect.com/

A couple weeks ago, I went on a personal retreat in Palm Springs. I have some good friends who donated their timeshare condo for me to use, which, of course, made them even better friends. I say that tongue-in-cheek, of course. After all, I was in the middle of the desert by myself, and real friends don’t do that to friends, right? I’m kidding. In all fairness, they did offer to come along, but sensing that God had a few things to say to me, I went out alone into the wilderness to pray and listen.

Wandering in the desert for a few days got me thinking about the Israelites, who ended up wandering in the desert for a few years. I know there are a lot of creative artists in the entertainment industry and elsewhere who sometimes get the feeling that they’ve been wandering in a desert for days, weeks, or even years at a time. I’ve been there too.

There are many reasons why a person might end up in the desert, so if you find yourself there, I’ll leave it to God to reveal why that may be. After all, some desert times are God-ordained. Jesus, Paul, David, and other great heroes spent a lot of their formative years out in the wilderness.

Other desert times are not part of God’s preferred agenda, however. The Israelites spent a good, long time wandering in the desert, not so much because of their complaining – which some people mistakenly think was the catalyst – but because of their unbelief. (Heb. 3:19).

Why, after all of Egypt, must there be a desert? The desert is less a punishment, and more a refinement. The fire and the heat give rise to hidden unrighteousness so we can deal with it. In Israel’s case, the desert showed the unbelief that apparently came pretty naturally to them at the time.

Unbelief prevents you from entering into God’s promises for you. In Israel’s case, it kept them from entering the Promised Land. It wasn’t that the Israelites didn’t believe in God or the spiritual world. They did. What they didn’t believe in was God’s character. Their unbelief was directed towards His ability and desire to fulfill His promises. They allowed their immediate circumstances and abilities to dictate their belief, rather than God’s character and the relationship He promised to them.

Oh, there were a couple guys who didn’t fall into that sin of unbelief (and yeah, I’m sorry to say, it is sin). Joshua and Caleb were the only two among all the Israelites who were allowed to enter into God’s promises because they believed that His character, favor, and ability trumped everything else. That was belief in God.

In your artistic life, you may have encountered setbacks and difficult circumstances. As a result, you may have let unbelief to creep into your thinking, maybe without even realizing it. I know, I know – some truly rotten things may have happened to you. But a reason for sin is not the same as an excuse for sin. No, I get it – you still believe in God’s existence. But do you still believe in His character?

Belief is not a tool; it is a position. It is positioning yourself to receive from the Father whatever He wants to give. It is a choice to agree that He exists and to agree with what He says is true about His character and what your relationship is with Him. It is not a tool to get what you want, but a position you place yourself in to receive what He gives. It is openness; it is receptivity.

Belief is a muscle. It becomes stronger, with more stamina, each time you choose to use it. Failure to use it, however, leads to atrophy. So if you find yourself wandering in the desert, check your belief levels. Move beyond belief in your surroundings and your own abilities to belief in the character of God.

All my best,

Shun Lee
Hollywood Connect

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