“Why You Can’t Manufacture Faith”- Sarah Westfall

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I’ve killed every plant I’ve ever owned. Last winter, my sister-in-law graciously gifted me succulents—plants that theoretically take care of themselves. They didn’t make it to summer. Currently, once-beautiful tulips sit wilting by my kitchen sink.

I love the idea of plants. I love how they create a warm, inviting atmosphere in our home. I love how they add texture and interest. But at the end of the day, plants do not love me.

Instead, I buy fake. In almost every room of our house, you can find faux flowers, look-almost-real succulents, and green ivy that never actually grows. I spend a few extra bucks to buy the kind that look real, at least from a distance. But diehard plant people aren’t fooled.

One day, I still hope to master the art of keeping houseplants alive. I don’t want to settle for fake forever. Because, no matter how much you spend, you can’t manufacture life where there’s no life at all.

The same is true for our faith. In Matthew 13, Jesus told the story of the farmer who spread seeds along a path. Some seeds simply bounced off an unyielding earth, too hardened to accept them. Other seeds initially took root but soon died off for lack of nutrients and care, succumbing to the weeds that surrounded them. Only the seeds that fell on the good soil—the soil that protected the seed and nourished it—eventually produced a crop.

You see, unlike my houseplants, faith is organic. God doesn’t do fake. Yes, He has a soft spot for the wilted things of this world, the broken and forgotten. When we see weakness, He sees opportunity for new life. That’s the beauty of redemption.

But after springing to life, faith must be well-tended to take root. We can’t put it on a shelf and forget it, hoping that a once-a-month watering will do the trick. Over time, the leaves will wither and fall off; the soil will turn to dust. All signs of life will disappear—unless we consistently soak in God’s presence.

Anything outside a relationship with God is a cheap substitute.

Faith is moment-by-moment inviting Him into our mess, no matter how dirty it might be. It involves feeding our souls with His Word and clinging to the promises of who He says He is, even in the waiting or the pain. Faith is choosing Him again and again. And as we do, He simultaneously grows our faith into something sustainable, into an abundant life that can only be found in the hands of the Creator.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you . . . as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. —Psalm 63:1 (ESV)

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