I Believe In You
I believe in you!
There is an incredible and yet mysterious power that can be conveyed in these words when coming from a real friend, a person who actually embodies the true meaning of these words. There have been countless thrilling stories written, lives transformed, whole nations changed as the result of someone choosing to invest belief in someone else.
Most often that belief is like a very high risk investment. The person on the receiving end of that belief very often initially does not appear very promising to anyone else. Their life may be a total mess or they may be just as average as average can be. They don't see anything within their lives or their past that would give them any hope of ever rising above their circumstances. Their history is usually pot-marked with failures, abuse, tragedies or is full of shame and regrets. They may firmly believe that their own case is hopeless and that they are destined to just survive life until they finish it and then die as a nobody in this world.
But then someone comes along and begins to seep into their life. They may even feel incredulous and disbelieving for quite awhile at the words of this friend. They may find it very hard to reconcile what this other person can possibly see in them for they not only cannot see anything of worth in themselves but they have never known anyone else who could see anything useful in them either. Yet this person insists with great confidence that they can see enormous potential hidden beneath the surface and they keep urging you to begin to believe that it is really true, that you are not the worthless being that you have always thought you were and that there is no limit to the advancement and accomplishments that lay within your reach.
It is impossible to put into words the kinds of emotions that are aroused in the heart when one encounters such an unusual friend like this. It is usually very difficult at first to believe that they are not lying to you, just trying to exploit you for some selfish purpose. Yet they persist in telling you that they really see things inside of you hidden from everyone else but very real and exciting and extremely valuable. It is like they keep assuring you that deep under all the mud of fear, shame, pain and self-doubts is hidden a treasure chest full of gold and pearls and all sorts of rare gems locked away deep inside that you never before even knew existed. They believe you are rich, are valuable, are worthy of their trust, that you have potential to thrive and change and become someone you have never dared to imagine you could ever become.
This person keeps after you, patient but unrelenting. It sounds bizarre but they refuse to give up or back off. You may even lash out at them in disbelief but they come back every time. They insist that you are valuable and they care deeply about you and your future. They refuse to give up the dream – your dream really, not just their dream.
The problem is that you never even knew a dream was possible for you to have. You had given up all your dreams many years ago – that is if you ever even had them to start with. Now all of that is just childish illusions, fantasies that don't belong in the adult world. Now you live in the 'real' world and all of that seems like total nonsense and doesn't have any place in your life anymore. You don't feel you have permission to dream such nonsense – that's not what practical life is all about, or is it?
Yet they persist. And as they persist they passion starts to become contagious. As much as you can't wrap your mind around what they might possibly be able to see in you they keep treating you with respect, even with eager anticipation. You begin to feel like hope is once again seeping into your heart – that strange feeling that you have almost given up ever experiencing again. It feels so strange and you wonder if it is only another pipe dream, another illusion drawing you into a trap where once again you will be caught, exploited and then tossed out on the heap of life once again.
It is then you find that you are faced with new choices yourself. You begin to realize that it may not be enough for just someone else to believe in you. As much as that has become incentive for you to reconsider your potential, you begin to sense that somewhere along the line you have to begin to make choices yourself, to step into the water, to make movements in new directions based on the faith this person has in you. You hesitate, your quaver, you shudder with fear of the unknown, but suddenly there they are again, coming alongside you, taking your hand, smiling at you irresistibly and inducing a strange feeling of faith within your own being. It feels so strange, so bizarre, so surreal and yet it is real – at least if you will allow it to be. It now begins to become your dream too, at least if you will allow it to take root in your own heart.
What is this strange, amazing, puzzling phenomenon that can so transform a person's life, their sense of self-worth, their direction and their future? The words we use to describe this all seem to fall so short of actually capturing the mesmerizing power of this kind of contagious belief.
I believe in you.
I see something in you that is powerful, rich, valuable, worth fighting for.
I am willing to take risks on you. I believe you can succeed. I see a glowing future for you.
But how can this be?
Where do you get all these crazy notions?
How can you say all these things without having any solid evidence to back them up?
This makes no sense because it is not based on logic. Why are you doing this for me? Who are you?
If I were to be able to unpack this, to explain it, to predict it, to lay out the formula for how this works then it would lose its mystical powers to transform a person so dramatically. Of course I can't do that, not because I wouldn't like to know how it works but because it is far beyond my own comprehension. In fact, I cannot even explain how I am able to write what I just did. I cannot remember even experiencing this kind of belief on the part of someone else towards me. Yet something inside of me resonates so keenly with these emotions and clings so tenaciously to what I sense in the thrilling stories that I occasionally hear that it just seems to flow from my heart.
Is this all wishful thinking? The material of good storytellers? The stuff that makes for best-sellers and brings in profits for publishers?
While that may be partially true, there is also the factor that Satan is terrified of the transformational power of such belief that is built right into our psyche by God Himself. He does everything possible to convince us that we are worthless, or at best that it might be possible but will never happen to me. Maybe one in a million can have their lives transformed by such inspiration but the rest of us are resigned to just reading about it from a book somewhere and then resenting that it has never happened to us.
But those are all lies – which is what fills so much of our thinking in this world. But lies are not true and we don't have to live in lies all of our life no matter what we may have experienced in the past. The past really does not equal the future no matter how true it may feel most of the time. But what is often missing is this strange power that is ignited by faith – faith in what we can be, what we can achieve, what is hiding deep inside of every one of us that we have not dared to believe ourselves. We have been duped with the lie that we cannot escape, that we could never be successful. We are afraid of the thought that we can feel real and transparent and yet be safe, that we can thrive and love, be vulnerable and yet still be loved. This are emotions that many of us have believed all of our lives – and that belief, or more accurately those fears, have largely determined the direction of our life.
Some have turned to self-help sources and have worked very hard to inspire themselves, to believe in themselves, to love themselves out of the darkness and into success. Often this appears to work for awhile. They may manage to escape dysfunctional families, to work themselves out of poverty and a few may even become stars or rich or famous. Since we usually measure success and value with these standards we may think they have found the formula, the magic potion, the secret stairway to success. But is that really true or is it a diversion, a decoy, a counterfeit that can leave us more empty than before?
Much could be said along those lines, but that is not where I want to go right now. What I want to probe is the real thing, that intense power of the high-risk kind of belief in someone that can take a person out of the gutter and transform them into something no one could have ever imagined, even the person themselves. I want to investigate much closer the amazing power of those words, even if not openly spoken but just felt – I believe in you!
Well, maybe I really want more than that. I actually crave to experience it myself much more. And I also want to be that kind of person myself. I want to learn to be a risk-taker in the lives of others, to be able to see into their heart, into the secret places where they themselves are afraid to go, to live and relate to them in such a way as to draw out the treasures and passions from deep inside of them that they never imagined even existed. I want to cooperate with God and to have the eyes of heaven to become that believer, that person who believes so confidently in the potential of others that it becomes extremely hard for them to resist becoming infected with that belief and hope themselves.
But there is more that I want to share that got me thinking about this in the first place.
When someone says that they believe in us what do we generally assume that they mean?
Pretty much we think that they are willing to take a risk on us, trust us, have faith in us even when we don't see good reasons to do so ourselves. We may think they are willing to treat us the way I have just described above.
But then I contrast that with how much of the time I seem to struggle so hard to have faith in God, to trust Him when things start looking bleak, to have faith when the pain is intense or the finances are crushing me with fear or my self-worth is seemingly non-existent. Intellectually I can strain and stretch and work very hard to try to trust, to grope around for more faith, to pull myself up with my own bootstraps so to speak but inside I always feel it is an uphill battle just to keep trusting in what I have heard God feels about me and in His promises.
But I think anyone who has grappled with this issue of faith seriously can tell you that it usually feels like a lot of hard work much of the time and that it just doesn't seem to come very naturally. Many of us even struggle to have a proper definition of what faith itself really is much of the time. The typical explanations for faith leave us wondering how much more effort it is going to take to get up to that level.
Now let me pose another question. Do you think that Jesus has a problem, an internal struggle about trusting His own Father? Does Jesus have to work hard at having faith in God?
Go ahead. Don't sidestep that question so quick. Think about it realistically for a few moments. Just how much does Jesus have to work at believing that His Father can provide for all of our needs? Does Jesus believe the Father loves us? Does Jesus have faith that the Father wants what is best for us?
The next step – compare that ease of belief that Jesus has with our ease of belief in God. Is it just as easy for us to have faith in God as Jesus does? I think the answer to that is rather obvious most of the time. But wait, that is not a rhetorical question by any means. Let me take it a little farther before your skepticism causes you to walk away in disgust. I have a few more questions before I am finished.
What might we assume that it means if I were to say that Jesus believes in me? In you?
What does that elicit from our hearts, our minds, our thoughts?
Does it sound absurd? Ridiculous? Insane? Irrelevant?
Wait! I thought that we were the ones who are supposed to do the believing here. The problem with faith is always with us – right? So what does Jesus' faith have to do with our faith anyway?
Maybe far more than we ever imagined! And in ways that we never thought about before.
And yet strangely, Jesus addressed this in some of His last words to His disciples just before He went to His death on Calvary. But these declarations of His faith were not at all confined to His disciples then but were specifically spoken to everyone who would ever chose to accept Him. They are familiar words and yet maybe they say far more than we have ever dared to imagine. Maybe the faith of Jesus is not exactly what we have always assumed it is.
Jesus actually is one of those people that I spoke about in the beginning here who has incredible faith in us and is willing to take enormous risks to make us succeed. I know we talk about this in religious circles all the time, but for some reason our eyes glaze over as soon as we begin talking about it and our minds go to sleep while our hearts sink back into unbelief. It's that stupid 'veil' that Paul talked about that covers our eyes so we can't see very well what is really going on. God wants to remove that veil with the good news about Him if we will let Him. And the good news is always better than we think.
Jesus really is one of those who believes in us far more than we ever give Him credit for. We sometimes convince our minds of that fact to some extent, but our hearts – where the real faith needs to thrive – our hearts continue to struggle to believe that God really does trust us, really does have faith in us, really does care about us anywhere near as much as people claim He does. So what can God do to solve this seemingly intractable problem of our lack of faith?
I believe in you.
I believe in you. That is the way we usually start out thinking about this. And when we focus on the you part – which is us – then we immediately begin to question the validity of that faith, whether it is coming from Jesus or from some other person who is willing to take a risk on us. What can they possibly see in us that would give them cause to trust us, to invest in us, to value us, to want us? Those may or may not be relevant questions, but I don't want to stop here.
I believe in you.
Now the emphasis begins to shift a little away from whatever reasons might be found inside of us to the actions and choices of the other person. They are choosing to believe, whether or not we think it is legitimate, sensible or even useful. We cannot control their choices even when we scream in their face and test them to the very limits. They just keep on believing in us no matter how much we mess up, strike out at them, hurt them or simply shake our head in amazement at what might be motivating them. They just keep on believing no matter what happens or what we do. Their belief is their own choice and nothing seems to be able to stop them from making that choice over and over again.
I believe in you.
Now the focus is much more on them and far less on us. We begin to sense that at least part of the reason if not all of it is that this bizarre faith, this belief in us is more linked to the character of the person believing in us than it has to do with any inherent abilities or skills or gifts that we may already possess. We begin to wonder if their very belief is somehow projecting some of their value into us, some of their character into our character, some of their faith into us where we do not have any yet. Their very insistent, unwavering faith in such an unworthy person as ourselves begins to inspire faith within ourselves where before there was no faith that we could find. Where before there was no love we begin to see love springing up like little sprouts giving promise of new life and hope and joy.
But wait, there is still one more.
I believe in you.
What was that? What do you mean in me? Oh yeah, now we're back to the focus on me again. Or are we? Wait, what did you say again? Now I'm confused. Are you saying...? What? Come again?
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing...
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. (John 15:4-9)
Did you catch that?
I believe in you.
In you! Remember the answer we came up with when I asked if Jesus likely has a problem believing in God? Well, what if we placed more attention on allowing Jesus to abide in us instead of trying to work up faith? What if we begin to allow the faith that Jesus has in His own Dad to replace our efforts at trying to work up faith in God? What if we just let Him live inside of us and do that 'faith thing' for us, from inside of us? Now is that a radical idea or what?
Yes, it is true that Jesus has far more faith in us and our potential than we may feel is even sensible. And His faith in us can inspire a great deal of spontaneous faith in response to His faith just as we have sometimes seen the the lives we read about in those thrilling stories. But with God it even gets better than that. Really!
You see, no matter how much I may be able to believe in the potential of a friend and may come to inspire them to rise to heights they never dreamed before were possible for them, I will never be able to actually move inside of them and exercise faith in them. I can only work with God to inspire them from the outside and to change their self-perception away from the beliefs that block and confuse them.
But Jesus... Oh yes, now Jesus has the incredible ability to actually live inside of us and bring His own faith in with Him. Then, instead of me always struggling to work up more faith in God I have the amazing and startling opportunity to just let Him do the faith business. And even more stunning is that when He does that inside of me with my permission He then says that that faith can be credited to me as righteousness.
It just keeps getting better but I am going to stop here.
Only God is good. Jesus made that very explicit. But Jesus wants to dwell inside of me and bring all His goodness, faith, love and everything else in with Him. That's why they call it righteousness by faith. It is His righteousness but it is also His faith. I just need to make the choices to let Him do it.
That's why they call Him faithful.
Get it? Because He is so full of faith we call Him faith-full.
The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)