I’ve intended to complete my series on faith, started oh so long ago, and this is my attempt to at least bring you up to speed with where I am at this juncture of my life. You see, I thought I had a certain level of understanding, and that a limited series would be able to explain that. How foolish of me to not realize that knowledge and understanding are ever changing, and that a finite series could never contain what He builds within us. Also, as I’ve walked this last month and a half, I’ve realized how everything in Christ is interconnected, and walking in faith touches on so many other topics. So, as has been said so often, life is about the journey, and as this is, after all, a blog, I will have to share the journey as I go, as my understanding is ever-changing. So, on to faith!
I concluded my last post on faith by stating, in so many words, that faith starts with belief, quoting Genesis 15:6. I will pick up from there, as it is a good starting point.
Kenneth Hagan once said, or so I am told he said, “Faith begins where the will of God is known”. Although I don’t follow all of what Kenneth Hagan taught, and actually haven’t read much of what he taught, I love this statement. In order to walk in faith we must know the will of God. Knowing His will may come through our study of scripture. Eric at “A Pilgim’s Progress” is a great example of this. After spending a number of years as a pastor in a Southern Baptist church, his study of scripture led him to believe that his position was unscriptural, and he took a step of faith, obeyed his convictions and quit that job. Other times, we may be led by the Holy Spirit within us to do a certain thing, or the Lord may speak to us through a brother or sister. In some cases, our understanding may be imperfect, and we may act on something that we thought was of Him, only to find out later that it was not. These are growing pains, as at some point in our lives we must step out in faith and begin trying to walk in His direction. We will not always be right, but He will always be gracious to us as we learn to walk (much like a little baby, who makes missteps, falls down and stumbles into things). The bottom line is that our walk of faith must start with knowing, or believing we know, His will.
Once we come to this point, the next step is to act. Now, here is where a lot of people, myself included, get tripped up. On more than one occasion I have seen His will, and in my haste to see it come to pass ran willy nilly in trying to carry it out, and failed to seek the “how” to go along with the “what”. The results have been miserable, with much wasted time and much wasted energy, and on at least one occasion, much heartache that wouldn’t have been necessary had I been more patient and diligent.
So, having sought His will in WHAT to do, and having sought His will in HOW to do it, we then must step out in faith, and do what we must in the natural to see that plan or that thing come to pass. For Eric, again using him as an example, he had to take the step of faith and quit his job. For me, acting meant I started a business, and later another. We obviously have to do our part to accomplish what He directs.
Now, here comes the hard part, at least for me. Usually, once we take that step of faith, and do as the Lord directed, the enemy will come and attempt to distract us or discourage us. (My apologies to those who find references to Satan as “the enemy” to be comical, naive or immature. I do feel very strongly that Satan works hard against those that are attempting to walk out the will of God in their lives. Although there can be normal hard times that are not a product of “enemy action”, I firmly believe that he specifically attacks us in attempts to dissuade us from walking.) All manner of things may go wrong, once we step out of the proverbial boat and try to walk on the proverbial waves. Peter, in this respect, is a great example for us. Peter succeeded, in that he did what no other mortal man has ever done, he walked on water. Peter only failed because he allowed his faith in Jesus to be overcome by his perception of his surroundings, by the “waves boisterous”. This brings me to my next point: we must see the word of God (and this will not always be the bible, per se, but sometimes rather the words He has given us internally) as the ultimate authority and the ultimate truth. The truth of the word of God must be more real to us than what we perceive with our natural senses.
OK, so this is where the rubber meets the road. This is the meat of what I want to share, and I touched on this some in Part 2. There is a tendency, especially in those from the Word of Faith movement, to feel like our faith has to be rock solid at all times, and to not have adequate faith is to fail, or to make a “Plan B” shows a lack of faith. And with that failure comes a fair amount of shame, because “you didn’t have enough faith”. There is also a tendency to think we can “muster up” faith when we need it. For instance, if I read enough scripture (because after all, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God), pray long or loud enough or listen to enough tapes I can suddenly increase my faith to accomplish the seeming impossible right now! Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, this is not the case. From my limited, but growing, experience with this, sometimes when we step out in faith, our faith may not actually be sufficient to complete the task, at that time. As such, we may experience a period of time where things look rocky (like Peter and the waves), where we aren’t seeing the fullness of what we expected to see. It is in these times that doubt tries to creep in, and tell us that we missed God, or that we don’t have enough faith, or that we’re stupid for having tried such a thing. It is in these times also that we must keep His words before us, and trust that He won’t fail us. It is in these times that we must stand.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:13)
As I’ve stated before, I love Hebrews 11, the whole chapter. These saints saw something in their hearts that they NEVER saw with their physical eyes, and yet they believed until the day they died. Hebrews 11, starting with verse 13, says:
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.14For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
Unlike these Old Testament saints, we are the heirs of the promises, the ones who have seen and will see their fulfillment. But like these saints, we must approach the Lord with the same tenacity, with the same refusal to go back, with the same refusal to NOT settle for anything but what He has promised. The Kingdom of God operates on the principle of faith, and if we don’t learn to walk in that we will never approach the glory, individually or corporately, that He calls us to.
Well, this at least catches things up some. I will hopefully write the next installment this weekend, giving my personal testimony in this regard, and giving some practical guidance on how this is lived out in our daily lives.