It isn't enough to go through the motions of faith, to say all the right things, do all the right things. It has to come from within. We have to BE faithful. We have to BE hopeful. We have to BE joyful. Acting the part will only get us so far.
It's in the early morning hours that I confront this concept most often. I wake, before I am ready to get up, filled with thoughts and worries, fear eating at my gut. In the dark, everything I knew and said and did in the light seems insignificant and insubstantial. I am practically powerless against the the thoughts running through my mind, the anxiety eating away at my peace and contentment.
I ask myself, "Am I just going through the motions? Or do I truly believe that God has everything in hand, that so long as I follow him I can't go wrong? Do I believe that He has a good and perfect plan for my life? That He WANTS to do good things for me? Do I believe that He is faithful and true and that He honors His promises?" I do. He is. He does.
So I say no to the fear and anxiety. I say no to the thoughts that run rampant through my mind. I turn my focus away from 'what ifs' and back to what and who He is. I can be faithful and hopeful and joyful because of who He is and what He has done and what He will do. Nothing has changed since I first fell asleep. Nothing will change if I sit up and worry and nitpick. Nothing will change if I let go, rest, and go back to sleep.
Worry and anxiety are my way of taking control back from God. Of saying 'Look at me, look how well I can reason this out, how well I can handle it." But that's not faith. That's going through the motions. I can say all the right things and still hold back on the inside. But I am not doing that today. Today, I will rest in His grace and I will be faithful. I will be hopeful. I will be joyful.
Are you being or doing?
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Has my arm lost its power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!"