I stood in the bare white room and sighed. Paint cans, trays, rollers and brushes were stacked in the middle of the floor. Every breath I took reminded me that I'd been here for a number of days, but there was still work to be done. These walls were still white. By the time we were finished painting the downstairs floors of two houses, I was tired, but I was getting pretty good at painting. I was even enjoying it a bit. It was satisfying, watching the paint flow onto the walls, turning them to a warm comforting colour.
I grabbed a new pail, gave it a bit of a shake and opened it up. I knew as soon as I passed the roller over the wall that something was wrong. I looked at the label on the pail. It was the same colour. I looked at the paint inside. It looked the same as what I'd been using earlier in the day. But I looked at the wall and frowned. I dipped a brush into the paint and immediately realized the problem. It needed to be stirred. It took quite a while, and my arm was starting to object, before the consistency was right and I could use that paint, but once it had been stirred enough, the rest of the work was almost effortless.
Like paint, our faith in God needs to be stirred. We need to see God's hand at work in our lives and the lives of others. It's the answered prayers, the obvious God incidents, and the manifestations of His glory in the world around us, which thicken our faith into something that will sustain us, something that can be used.
Some of the stirring can only be accomplished by God Himself. Faith is a gift. Only He can open our eyes to its reality. But we can put ourselves in places where we will see the hand of God at work. Go to the third world. Help in a soup kitchen. Visit the dying and those in prison. Work with those who are disabled. Witness to those around you. Go to church. Take the risks that will reveal Him. God is always at work in places where He is most needed.
When faith is thin, our spiritual life fades and God can't accomplish much through us. But when it's been stirred, life thickens with purpose and meaning. It is then that faith becomes a beautiful and useful tool in God's hands. When our faith has been stirred, the work we do for Him seems almost effortless because we recognize that it is He who works through us. We see the difference only He can make, "for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose". (Philippians 2:13).