For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Several months ago, I was reading Mark 9. It contains the story of a man whose son was possessed by a demon. The man came to Jesus begging him to help. He said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (v 22). Jesus responded, “If you can? Everything is possible to the one who believes!” (v 23). Immediately the father cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief” (v 24).
How often I have been just like that father—I believe, but I really need help overcoming my unbelief. I waver between faith and doubt. I find myself crying out to God to help my unbelief.
And, therein we remember the old adage to be careful what we pray for.
Yes, God is in the process of refining me—of helping my unbelief. He is teaching me what it means to walk by faith and not by sight. And, through the process, my faith is growing exponentially. But, it is not a process for the faint-hearted.
I was recently asked what it meant to walk by faith and not by sight. I referred to the call of Abram in Genesis 12. God called Abram (later named Abraham) to go out from his land to a place that God promised to show him. So, Abram went (vv 1-4). God did not give Abram any specifics; He simply said go and I will show you. That’s the perfect illustration of walking by faith.
I have had many opportunities to walk by faith throughout my life, and I really thought that I was pretty good at it. Usually if I am confident that God has told me to do something, I can act in faith. I’ve been blessed to experience His presence in such circumstances in the past, and I can see how He has led me through the years. But, usually the blessings and answers have come relatively quickly.
Abraham didn’t receive immediate answers. God promised him that He would be the father of many nations, but Abraham had no children. As he waited for God to fulfill the promise, he became impatient and took matters into his own hands. (See Genesis 16…His wife was also in this decision, and she later regretted it.) It took many years for Abraham to see the promise fulfilled, but God was faithful.
I feel a lot like Abraham right now. I am wandering in an unknown land, waiting for God to fulfill His promises. I have begun to take steps of faith even though I can’t see how His promise can ever be true. I find myself returning to the Word, to scriptures He has given me throughout the last year, just to make it through the day sometimes.
And, isn’t that what He wants more than anything?
You see, God could have told Abraham to go to Bethel. He could have easily laid out the entire plan for Abraham from the beginning: “You will start at point A and end at point B, but you will face obstacles C, D, and E along the way. This journey will take years, and you will make some mistakes along the way. But, don’t worry. I’ll take care of it all.” But that defeats God’s purpose.
God’s purpose is for us to be in relationship with Him. We work so hard to teach our children independence, and He works so hard to teach His children dependence! He wants us to need His direction every step of the way. He wants us to seek His will at every turn, in every circumstance. He only wants us to move when He tells us to move—and He wants us to wait when He tells us to wait. He wants us to trust Him to lead us into the future one step at a time.
When the Israelites were led out of Egypt, they were forced to wander in the desert for 40 years (don’t feel too sorry for them—it was their choice because of their rebellion). Instead of living in the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey, they were wandering, existing on some unknown food known only as manna. Granted, they saw the manna provided every single day. Every single day, God gave them their daily food and met their needs. Their shoes and their clothes never wore out. God was so good to them!
But, if God had told them about the journey they were to take, I am willing to bet that they would have chosen to stay in bondage in Egypt. Over and over, they grumbled against God and against Moses for bringing them out of slavery because they enjoyed rich foods and pleasures back in Egypt. Over and over, they experienced God’s judgment because of their lack of faith and their disobedience.
God never promised an easy journey, but He promised that He would walk with us, lead us every step of the way. The Israelites were blessed to have a cloud leading them by day and a pillar of fire by night. But, they had to rely on Moses to get their directions. They didn’t have the opportunity to enter the Holy of Holies and bask in the presence of a Holy God like we do. Thanks to the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, I can go directly to God for my marching orders!
The Israelites eventually made it to the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. They enjoyed the best of everything, and they saw God completely annihilate all of their enemies! And, they were all descendants of Abraham—the fulfillment of God’s promise to the father of this great nation! All of God’s promises were fulfilled. But, they had quite a journey—one that they never would have chosen on their own.
Where are you today? Are you clinging to your bondage out of fear—fear of what the journey might hold? Is it better to remain in chains, or to step out in faith on a journey that will test you and try you at every turn? Is it better to cower in fear or to place your faith in a Savior who will lead you every step of the journey?
I’ve chosen to journey with my Savior, and I find myself clinging to Him more each day. The more I cling to Him, the more I hear Him giving me directions. The more I obey those directions, the more I experience His peace and His presence. The more I experience His peace and His presence, the more opportunities I find to glorify Him. The more I glorify Him, the more abundant my life becomes.
Is it all a bed of roses? No, not by any means. I have traveled a long and difficult road, and I know that the days ahead are full of trials. But, my faith grows deeper every day. I become more confident in my Savior’s love and care for me. I become more certain that His promises to me will be fulfilled—when my faith is at the depth He wants it!
Do you want to please God? Hebrews tells us there’s a key.
Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
I want my life to be pleasing to God. Therefore, I will let Him perfect my faith through times of testing and trial as I seek Him and walk daily with Him. Will you join me on the journey?