Saturday, March 28, 2009

Three Snapshots of Faith

Going Not Knowing
Faith doesn’t need to know where it is being led or whether or not the journey will be successful. Faith refuses to be distracted by what is seen in any given moment. Faith moves in the face of the blowing winds of unanswered questions and unfulfilled promises. Hebrews 11:8 says, "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." Faith begins with believing God's revealed word, accepting as true what God says, and realizing your task is to act upon it. According to Heb. 11:6, "without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

This is why Abraham is considered to be the father of faith. Abraham moved forward in life in spite of the fact that he had little evidence this vision would become a reality. Hebrews 11:10 says was “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." Abraham saw many of God's promises come true along the way, but the ultimate promise of a city whose architect and builder is God he won’t realize until the New Jerusalem is revealed from heaven (Rev. 21:1).

Knowing but still Going
Faith doesn’t need every problem solved before it acts. Mark's gospel tells of Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome taking spices to Jesus’ tomb on a Sunday morning to anoint his body. On the way they asked each other a very practical question—"Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" Far from being delusional, the women were all too aware of the obstacles they faced. I marvel that knowledge didn’t leave them sitting immobilized around a kitchen table until they’d secured help in moving the stone; they were knowing but still going. Little did they know the stone was no longer a problem, because He was already risen. The resurrection of Jesus solves our biggest problems and moves the hard things that obstruct our walk of faith.

Our mission in life as believers in Jesus Christ is to live by faith in the son of God. To move in trust that no problem is too big for the God who moves stones. Faith demands that we believe, refusing to let our unbelief keep us from taking action or from living in light of the promises of God.

Going and Knowing
Faith is willing to take God at His word with no supporting evidence necessary. I’m amazed by the visit Gabriel made to two people in Luke's gospel. First the angel visited a priest named Zechariah, who was in the throes of some very significant temple duties. Gabriel delivered God's promise that a boy named John, a forerunner to the Messiah, would be born to this aging, childless couple. Zechariah's response in Luke 1:18 is interesting. “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Compare his question to that of Mary, the mother to be of Jesus, who was visited by the same angel in Luke 1:34. “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” Which response was by faith and which was faithless?

Zechariah demanded evidence that would remove the possibility of doubt. He wanted to see something that would keep him from being an old fool for believing God. Wasn’t it enough that one of God's highest ranking angels had just appeared to him? Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Mary's response, however, is one of faith. She states the obvious, but not as an objection or a demand for more assurance. It isn’t wrong to note the impossible nature of your circumstances, but it is wrong to demand supporting material to remove doubts created by our own limited perspective. Such supporting material rarely strengthens our weak faith. Faith stands on God's Word regardless of the evidence to the contrary. Faith moves on what God has promised—and sometimes all you have to move on is knowledge of His character.

You might be tempted to say it would be hard to live without the fulfillment of God’s promises in your life. We all grow weary of waiting on the Lord. Going without knowing means trusting day to day in the promises of God—and when the memory of those promises wears thin, clinging to the character of God. Every day, in every way, we get to believe either in what we see, hear, smell and touch—or in what God has said. Like Abraham, like the women who went to minister to the body of Jesus, like the young Virgin Mary or even Zechariah, we must each move forward in faith. We must go about our duties, our lives, and the journey marked out for us. We must be honest about the impossible things we face, but we must always leave room for our awesome God to move the hardest things we face—be it a stone or a mountain or our own stubborn hearts. God is faithful. He is the Stone Mover!

Ed Litton

1 comment:

Kelli said...

Amen. Thank you for this word today!