Most people spend their lives avoiding the very things that will bring fulfillment and abundant life. We try to plan our lives to avoid danger, risk, conflict and chaos. We really should not “play in the road” or “run with sharp objects”. That is just being careless. However, the faith life does involve taking risks. Life is not as simple as following a few simple rules and following orders.
We do our best to be good employees and then the company down-sizes or right-sizes or whatever the newest terminology is for laying off people. We observe traffic laws only to be hit by someone who runs a red light. We decide to not borrow money and to save money. Then, interest rates go to an all-time low foiling our “best” plan for our financial future.
You get the picture. Life is full of surprises. As Christians, we should be on the offensive and not be practicing a “bunker” mentality. We should look for the challenges that life will bring. Then, approach them in faith. We will have trials, temptations and troubles. The question is: “Will we view the events of life as evidence that we do not have faith or will we go forward in faith and become ‘more than conquerors through Him (Christ) who loved us’?”
This life requires faith. Faith has some “friends” without which faith is lonely and powerless. In Hebrews 11, three of these friends are discovered: Obedience, Righteous Submission and Sacrifice. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith: “…being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” The people who lived before Christ came to live among us, believed that He would come to earth and fulfill prophecy. They had only God’s Word through the prophets, and, they had faith. They believed. They are written about in the verses of Hebrew 11:4-38, the passage of scripture that we sometimes called “The Faith Hall of Fame”. What did all of these “Hall of Famers” have in common?
When God called, they said, “Yes.” Some were more reluctant than others but they all accepted God’s call. They would leave behind much, if not all, that was safe and secure.
In retrospect, we see them as “successful”. When they first heard the “call”, they probably were not excited to go to the new place to which God was calling them. Abraham left everyone that was familiar to him. Without GPS, cell phone or Mapquest, Abraham traveled to a land that he had never seen. Sunday morning, June 1, 2008, at Westland, I asked people to tell of their journey to “places unknown”. One man told of a twenty-year journey with his family waiting for healing in the life of his daughter. He told of God’s faithfulness to be present with him and his family during these many years of life. He told of God providing financially for medical care.
Another man told of how God healed him of cancer. A woman shared her story of being declared “cancer free” after a terrifying struggle with cancer.
A young couple told of accepting God’s invitation to trust Him and to indicate their trust in Him by tithing. Upon receiving a large bonus, they wondered if they should tithe on the whole amount or apply this amount to debt and then begin to tithe. They immediately wrote the check for 10% of this bonus to avoid any further temptation to keep back what belonged to God. Within a week of giving this tithe, the young man was notified that he would receive another bonus and a “raise” that, over time, would equal more than 100 times the gift that he had given to God. Another man told of three specific times that God had tested him or allowed him to be severely tested through the sickness of his son and his wife and through the “loss” of his one year old son who, in a split moment of time, had followed the family dog out of the back yard. In an instance, the child was lost. The church was called and people from the church came and assisted in finding this little child who must have “sprinted” away from his house only to be found by a school teacher on an errand from her school at lunch time.
God told Abraham that he would receive land, wealth and so many descendants that they could not be counted. Abraham’s journey was longer than he would like for it to have been. When he finally received the son that God had promised, God required that Abraham give his son, Isaac, back to God in the most unusual act of obedience and sacrifice ever required by God. When Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice to God, God provided another way for Abraham to fulfill his act of obedience. Then, through Isaac, God fulfilled His promise to give Abraham so many sons and daughters that they could not be counted.
Righteous submission includes waiting on God. Waiting is a virtue that is not cultivated in our day. But to see God accomplish His work in our lives, we will follow his time line that invariably is different from ours. We want God to answer our prayer on our time line and to answer our prayer the way that we want. When He does neither, we feel that something is wrong-“Maybe, we do not have enough faith or something is hindering our prayer from being answered”. Often, however, God is doing a greater work than we could have ever imagined.
Biblical faith is saying “yes” to God before you know the full impact of the question. Faith is waiting on Him. Faith is sacrificing all that we are to all that He is. Faith is living in victory before we feel it or even experience it. Faith is a confidence that God is at work in this world and that God is at work in your life. Sometimes this confidence will have to exist in spite of evidence of the contrary. Because, our hope is in Him!
What is your next faith journey? Is it a journey to forgiveness? God will give you the power to forgive even when you do not feel like forgiving. Is it a journey to share your faith? You do not have to wait until you “feel” a burden for someone. You and I have already been authorized and commissioned to tell the people around us about salvation through Jesus Christ. Is it a journey into giving? God invites and commands us to give to Him and to others. Then, He will give back to us and provide all that we need.
Is your faith lonely and powerless? Give your faith the friends of obedience, righteousness and sacrifice. Get out of the “bunker”! Go on the offensive! Jesus said that the very gates of Hell will fall when you approach them in biblical, overcoming, victorious faith. Endure the tests. Taste the victory that is yours in Jesus.