Hi, my name is Jason, and I’m a recovering realist.
I wasn’t always that way, there have been wonderful times of believing in my life, but subtly over the course of years and while struggling through disappointments, I began doing good things for God even though I could hardly see Him. I became exhausted, unmotivated, and unsure where once I had been positive. Life became random and dull.
In one sense I still did what I thought God had created me to do but it no longer held as much meaning. I started filtering every experience through an attitude of hopelessness until every bump in the road was expected, while every triumph was fleeting. I began living a life where the glass was neither half full nor half empty. It was just… half.
I became a realist. It just made more sense.
I’m currently on the wagon…but it’s been an uphill fight, this my faith journey to optimism.
I remember the day I decided to be a realist. I’d asked my wife if she thought I was a pessimist. You see, I didn’t want to be a pessimist; they didn't fair well in the Bible and were a bummer to hang out with.
“I might still be a realist today if not for the wild yearning in my heart to want more, and God’s wild yearning for me.”
My wife said “No, you are a realist.”
In the face of being a pessimist it sounded good, in fact it seemed like wisdom except there was no joy or hope…
I might still be a realist today if not for the wild yearning in my heart to want more, and God’s wild yearning for me. God in His grace and faithfulness intervened by giving me radical believing friends, and faithful family, and powerful stories about trusting God.
One day I chose to believe. To simply decide that God is an optimist and He only has goodness and love for me. It was a defiant act of faith. It was the best thing I ever did.
Since then I’ve discovered that while realism can often appear to be practical, respectable and wise, it’s simply unbelief. In fact I think that realism is just a socially accepted form of pessimism. Realism says “If you don’t have the money, God must not be in it…If you’re sick, it must be God’s will—maybe He is trying to teach you something…If you’re poor, get a job!...If you want to minister, go to Bible college or seminary…If you’re offending someone’s sensibilities, then stop.” Basically, whatever you do, be careful or you may come out looking like an idiot. In short, if at all possible, avoid risk. We must protect what God gave us; we need to be responsible and careful regarding our “Christian walk.” We need to be respectable, nice and tame... and oh yeah, did I mention frustrated, fed up and bored out of our minds?! And don’t forget aimless, empty and miserable.
“While realism can often appear to be practical, respectable and wise, it’s simply unbelief.”
Believing is living in the kingdom of God. Believing inspires action, births revelation, and yields miracles. A realist would see a blind man and say he can’t see, end of story. But when Jesus came to earth, the blind saw, the lame walked, the deaf heard, Lazarus died twice, and Jesus told death, “Thanks, but no!” From what I can tell, God is not a realist. He is the Eternal Optimist and He has called all of us to be eternally optimistic with Him.
Believing is keeping your eye on the prize; it’s forward living, faith in motion. Belief is good, but for it to grow it needs to be nurtured by a believing lifestyle. “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these.” Jesus’ whole message on earth points to a "greater works than these" lifestyle. Believing in Him is living in that promise.
The promise, your promise and mine, is one of a Spirit led life, a Spirit breathed life, a life of seeing where the Father moves and moving with Him.
What does this “greater works” promise look like for me? Well, I can’t see all of it but I’m learning that it lives in my heart and can be found in my dreams—particularity the dreams that most excite and most terrify me. I also am learning that the only way to see more of it, to engage it is to develop a believing heart.
We live in a culture that has deified the mind. Yes, God gave us brains, but the thinking mind is never to replace the believing heart. They work in tandem but the heart must come first. Or as a friend of mine says, we too often put the course before the heart. Jesus lives in our hearts. Believing often doesn’t add up in the mind, as something you can see. But faith, after all, is the essence of things un-seen.
Now I’m putting all my money on the promise-giver and following Him where He leads me, like moving my family to North Carolina and financially disappointing Dave Ramsey. I have made a decision that I am going to be a believer, whether it looks good or not, whether it feels good or not. I have made a decision to say yes. It’s really the only way to continue moving forward in my own story. It’s also the only way to live the promise, to experience life, immense joy and fulfillment.
My name is Jason and I’m a believer…
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Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children. Website: www.afamilystory.org