SHAWN FRANKLIN

 
 

"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2: 6-10

Describe your experiences with giving and receiving gifts? What did it feel like when you first received the gift of faith? What was it like for you to accept this free gift—difficult or easy? 

I grew up in a environment where giving gifts wasn’t really a practice other than some holidays and birthdays, so receiving them became somewhat of an awkward event. In my younger years I learned how to take the gifts but had no understanding of the heart behind giving. My response lacked thankfulness and gratitude. Even as I grew older, it was easy to get apathetic about gifts from my parents when the giving was one-sided. They give; I take. I was under the impression or assumption that I was entitled to the gifts I received, and where entitlement lives, thankfulness and gratitude have no occupancy.

It wasn’t until I was nineteen that I took notice of the many unexpected and underserved gifts—bills paid for, car filled with gas, time, endless encouragement—from a person who I could not repay, and that entitlement seemed to be washed away with thankfulness and gratitude. That same person was the one who, with faith in his heart and guidance from the Holy Spirit, prayed with me to accept Jesus Christ as my savior and receive the gift of Faith. This is where giving began for me. Before that I had no knowledge or understanding of who Jesus was, and then at 2am. in my apartment in Dallas, I experienced overwhelming grace and peace. Before receiving Faith. I allowed most of my life experiences to lead me to believe that I was worthless, hopeless and unqualified. I wanted something to satisfy my emptiness, so I was on a relentless search to fill that never-ending void. But now Faith allows me to see and trust what Jesus says about me regardless of my circumstances, creating an accessible place in my heart to receive even more faith. I am no expert in this practice. Sometimes doubt will show its face, but God gives grace and is always faithful in reminding me that He is trustworthy. Doubt is the product of deception, and like Jesus being tempted in the desert, I have the power to rebuke the enemy with faith and the living Word of God. Those doubts and insecurities are being or have already been transformed into areas of confidence and boldness in Jesus through the Holy Spirit and by Faith.

How has the gift of faith strengthened the evidence of God touching your heart?

I see the evidence when taking a moment to see the contrast between who I was before He snatched me up and who I am today. I did none of it on my own; I simply chose to believe that He is who He says He is. The evidence of faith is that I am becoming more like Jesus, and people can see it which is only possible by the grace and power of God. I have experienced Him exchanging areas of shame and weakness for strength and beauty, some areas like a snap of a finger and some still in progress. The point is that I continue in faith while waiting in hope and expectation for what I cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 is beautiful, saying, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

What are the tangible things that surround your faith?

People have always been really tangible. Looking back I can see the people that God placed in my life even before He saved me, that—some unknowingly—were a divine connection in my salvation story. He has always put the most beautiful people in my life, ones who love me enough to call me out when I am not believing the truth, encourage things in me that I don’t see, and have patience with me along the journey. God loves me so He will always put people in my life that are far ahead of me, right beside me, and far behind me. Someone to teach me, someone to relate with, and someone to be taught. My faith is strong when in community with others—we’re on the same path at different distances. Faith is expressed through action, and the greatest action is love (1 Corinthians 13). Love is extremely tangible. I see it with my eyes, I share it with my words. I express it with my conduct, I know when it’s present and when it’s absent. It’s the visible, invisible fuel of my faith.

What are the ways that you share your faith with others?

Ultimately, I share my faith by the way I treat people—both those who are easy to love and those I have a hard time loving. If I am becoming impatient, showing favoritism, or fueled by selfish ambition then I am not being a good steward of the deposit that He has made in life (2 Timothy 1:12-13). I share it with the words I speak, the questions I ask and the response I have. I’m not perfect in this and overcomplicate it at times, so I ask God for wisdom and discernment. I share my faith when I am obedient to what Jesus asks me to do. When he places a random person on my heart to tell them that they are loved—or when he asks me three times “When are you going to ask them?" While telling others about Him, Christ doesn't just want me to talk about Him, He wants me to invite them in just like He invited me. Invite those around you to share in the faith, the hope, and the love that you've been given.