By Andrena Sawyer
Faith has never been my struggle. In fact, I thrived in situations that required faith. It’s caused me to see God in real ways that only fueled my thirst to see Him demonstrated in bigger ways.
I remember my sophomore year in college. I knew that there was no way I was going to have the money to cover the balance of my tuition that a scholarship didn’t cover. My father had a candid conversation with me that he would not take me to school that year because we didn’t have a solid plan. The way he saw it (being the rational and protective father that he is), driving me from New Jersey to Washington DC was only a set-up for embarrassment and heartbreak later. My response? That same day, I took the train from New Jersey to New York, then took the bus from New York to DC. I packed enough clothes to last me at least a month, because I just knew things would work out. Sure enough, after a lot of crying, praying and fasting, I ended that year in good academic and financial standing with the university. I went on to graduate in 4 years.
While I was in DC, I thought the Lord was leading me to start a youth outreach. I proposed the idea to a friend who responded, “what if someone gets shot?” He wasn’t asking to discourage me. He was challenging me to think through all possibilities. Truth was, I had no money (barely paid my tuition), I was a foreigner in the area, and my support system consisted of other 18 year olds who were also trying to figure out life. I discarded reason (and his questions), and went on to do the outreach anyway. That outreach, Rock, the MIC, lasted for 5 years, and served an average of 150 youth each year. I saw God provide thousands of dollars, some of the most talented (and popular) Christian artists graced the stage, and the most unlikely people connected to serve the community. Faith has not been my struggle. Until recently.
When I decided to become an entrepreneur in 2012, I had no idea what it would entail. I knew God was opening some doors. He’d increased my confidence in the abilities He gave me, and the previous season brought harsh disappointments that left me broken and with no choice but to seek God earnestly for direction. I was hearing clearly in that season.
I have watched Him do incredible things through my company, and in me. It’s also been a journey that has stretched me in ways that I could never imagine—financially, emotionally, relationally, and physically. I’ve gained and lost weight on this journey, made and lost money and possessions, gained and lost relationships, and sacrificed more time than I can account for. A series of my decisions recently led me to a crossroads that required me to choose between closing the doors of P.E.R.K. for good, or pushing through a little bit more, just in case there was the mother load of breakthroughs on the other side. Pushing through has meant having to learn what scarcity looks like (all over again), and constantly rejecting the pressure to live life comparing my journey to others. I cry out to God almost daily about why He’s answered quickly for me before, but now the answers seem more interspersed.
Here’s my conclusion: my 18 year old faith is no longer enough. The thrill of believing for the impossible is now exhausting and not as exciting. It’s a perspective that comes with the expectation of maturity. A good friend once teased me that I was a glutton for punishment. Perhaps he’s right, or perhaps choosing to believe that the God of Elijah and Abraham who anticipates needs (1 Kings 17:6, Genesis 22:13), and the God of Esther who favors unqualified people, often requires faith that is produced through what appears to be suffering.
What I’ve learned in this process is that faith often goes against reason. It is often clouded by fear, and the barometer cannot always be past experiences. God’s nature doesn’t change. He still does very much with very little, and I believe He is looking for ways to demonstrate His glory to us. Perhaps the faith He is looking for is not for performing the spectacular for us, but through us, so that His glory remains His own (untarnished and solely His). When our faith of yesteryear is not enough, we must take hold of the truth that we are finite and God is not. Patience is required to seek and wait for the response. He is sovereign and sensitive at the same time. That truth ought to be enough to remind us to take His promises as our own each day, as we wait to see in what new ways He will manifest His glory, grace and kindness toward us.