Anne Graham Lotz: Confident Faith Is Developed by Choices

by | Apr 20, 2016 | Purpose & Identity

My first real choice of faith was made when I was a girl of 8 or 9 years of age.

After watching a film on television portraying the life of Christ, I chose to confess to God in prayer that I knew I was a sinner, that I was sorry and that I claimed the death of Jesus Christ on the cross as His sacrifice for my sin. I asked Him to forgive me, then invited Jesus to come into my heart and life.

This choice led to opening my Bible and making the choice to read it on a daily basis. I remember reading the Bible all the way through by the time I was 9 years old. Besides strengthening my small seedling of faith, it began my lifelong love affair with the Scriptures.

That choice led to the next one that stands out in my memory. It was a choice I made several years later, when I was about 15 years of age. I was with a group of friends listening to a guest speaker in the chapel of the church where I was raised. We were attending a meeting for the youth of the church on a summer Saturday morning, and the speaker was a distinguished professor of divinity at Yale University. All of us were interested in hearing what he had to say.

I can’t remember what began to alarm me about what he was saying, but I do remember when he said that there was a god for the Old Testament and another god for the New Testament, and a different god for today, my heart pounded out of my chest. Without thinking, I jumped to my feet, interrupted him, and said that was not what the Bible said. In an extremely condescending voice modulated to intimidate me, he inquired, “And just what do you think the Bible says?” Quickly, to my mind, God brought these words, “The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). He had a startled, somewhat offended, yet quizzical, look on his face, as if to say, “Who has dared to challenge me?” But an all-out confrontation was avoided because my friends pulled on my shirt, “Anne! Sit down! He’s a professor from Yale, for goodness’ sake. Be quiet!” So I sat down. But while I may have been silent on the outside, I was still arguing on the inside.

About two years after I had confronted the Yale professor, I made a life-defining choice of faith when I knelt down by the window seat in my bedroom and surrendered my life for service to Jesus Christ, a decision that I continue to live out on a daily basis. Thus began a lifetime of choices, some small, some large, some public, some private, but each one seemed to build on the next one, serving to strengthen and develop and grow my faith.

While I understand that God has enabled some Christians to grow up very quickly in their faith, God has graciously allowed my faith to develop over a lifetime of choices. While you may not have the luxury of a lifetime ahead of you to make the critical choices that will develop your faith, it’s important that you start—one choice at a time. God knows how long you will have to develop your faith, and He will make sure that it’s sufficient. But you must start.

The biblical prophet Daniel is Exhibit A of a man who demonstrated real faith through choice after choice after choice. He not only said he believed, but he backed up his words with death-defying actions. We are not told when he originally made his choice to believe, but all indications are that it was during his early years growing up in Jerusalem.

By the time he walked on the stage of world history as a teenager, his faith seemed remarkably well developed, but still required him to make choices. Daniel’s first choice recorded in Scripture is one that took place after what could only be described as the horrific day when the Babylonian troops surrounded Jerusalem, then conquered it. They proceeded to search out the cream of the intelligent, gifted, personable, handsome, capable young men, enslaving them and transporting them back to Babylon to serve in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court.

When Daniel arrived in Babylon, he was immediately plunged into an intense three-year brainwashing regimen. At the same time, more than likely, he was also stripped of his masculinity, since his immediate supervisor was described as the “master of [the] eunuchs,” implying Daniel was one (1:3, NKJV).

While it was impossible for Daniel to prevent the changing of his name or his emasculation, he drew the line at being forced to eat the king’s food that had first been sacrificed to idols. Because Daniel’s faith was centered on the living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give tribute to other gods, even indirectly, would be to betray and deny his own God. So he “resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way” (1:8).

The choice to make that request, as innocent and reasonable as it sounds to you and me, was actually death-defying. Daniel did not back down. Not even a little. He had made the choice not to defile himself. So the only alternative he could think of was to place his life in God’s hands.

Ten days later when they were evaluated, Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego “looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” (1:15).

Daniel had in reality put God to the test. God came through for him in such a way that Daniel’s faith was surely strengthened and grew. And God will come through for you, too, but you must make the choice to give Him first place in your life. {eoa}

Adapted from The Daniel Prayer: Prayer that Moves Heaven and Changes Nations Copyright © 2016, by Anne Graham Lotz. Use by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com. Book available for purchase at http://www.zondervan.com/the-daniel-prayer.

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