As a warm weather girl, I always look forward to the spring and summer months. Like many things in nature, I really “come alive” when the weather turns warmer. And when it does, it’s time to get outdoors again!
On a recent hiking venture, I came to a bridge. This bridge was not long, but it was a bit high, and it did cross some water. The bridge seemed stable enough, and I was certain that many people, even that very day, had probably gone across it before me. But what if? What if the bridge wasn’t able to hold me? What if it was trustworthy for all the others but not for me?
I held back and observed a while.
Where I was hoping to go was on the other side of the expanse that the bridge crossed. I had to cross that bridge to get there. There was really no other way, but the what ifs had me trapped in doubt.
Faith can be a lot like that.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us this, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”.
Hebrews 11 is affectionately known as the “Hero’s of the faith” chapter. Here we see a list of some of the big-name heroes of old, whose names we easily recognize and associate with faith.
By faith, Moses’ parents hid him for three months…
By faith…Noah built an ark…
By faith, Abraham went to a new place, even though he did not know where he was going…
By faith, the Israelites passed through the Red Sea on dry land…
And on and on.
So, what makes the difference between big faith, and not so big faith? How do we measure faith? When you consider the faith life of those you know with “big faith”, what is it that makes them different? Why is their faith bigger? I’ve got one word for you. Obedience.
What if we trade the word faith for the word obedience in the hero chapter? “In obedience Moses’ parents hid him. In obedience Noah built an ark. In obedience Abraham went to a new place.” The correlation between faith and obedience is striking.
It’s easy for me, and probably you too, to talk about faith. We have faith in God about many things. We have faith that God will care for us and for our family. Faith that He will meet our physical, financial and emotional needs. Faith that He will help us in our trials and difficulties. And faith that He will lead us clearly in the decisions we need to make. But sometimes it is easy to toss the word faith around as if it were a supernatural power, too lofty to grasp. But what if…. what if we switched the word faith for obedience?
Let’s consider it this way. Great faith is faith in action. Each of us knows someone to whom we attribute great faith to. I’m willing to bet that the reason you feel that way about them, is because of the way they ACT on their faith. The confidence and ability they have to really trust God with their hurts, struggles, decisions, and the changes in their life.
Often, we say “I want more faith!” We want greater faith in the One who loves us. We desire the faith to move mountains as in Matthew 17:20-21. I suggest to you today that what you really want is more obedience!
Faith transitions to obedience, and obedience deepens into trust.
When we act on our faith with obedience, our faith deepens. When we put “feet on our faith” and step out in trust, we allow God to work. From the examples given in Hebrews 11, what we see is faith in action. God did not supernaturally build the ark for Noah, or hide Moses Himself, or even pick up Abraham and move him while he slept. Those faithful followers of God obeyed. They believed God would do what He said He would do, but they first had to act. Their faith meant nothing until they acted on it. Their story in scripture would not be listed in the “Faith Hall of Fame” if they had not actually stepped out and acted!
Obedience can be scary.
Very recently I was wrestling with faith and trust. I had been feeling like God wanted me to act on my faith, and for a while I was excited and ready. But then…I got scared. I began to back peddle a little bit. I was trying to “be really sure” that I was hearing God correctly. I was fairly certain that I had heard Him clearly a few months back, but now that it was time to actually obey, I put the brakes on. Through my doubt and apprehension, when I thought I was “making sure” of Gods will, what I was really doing was holding back. What I lacked was obedience.
After some study of scripture, and much more prayer, I heard God again, loud and clear. So loudly and clearly, in fact, that it left me full of joy and faith! I can’t explain to you the amount of peace and fulfillment it brought me to truly arrive a place of perfect peace with God and His plan for me! I was ready to step out on that bridge, so to speak. Ready to trust His ability to keep me safe as I headed to the other side.
Is there a situation in your life where you feel God calling you to action, but you are fearful? Are you holding back right now because you are scared about the outcome? Is there a phone call you need to make? A relationship that needs healing? A friendship that needs to end? A move you need to make? A ministry you need to step into? A job you need to change?
If the Israelites had not obeyed God and stepped into the wind tunnel of the Red Sea, they would have been overtaken by Pharaoh’s army. If Abraham had stayed in Ur, God would not have fulfilled His promise to him that he would inherit the land. And if Noah had been too scared to obey God and build that ark, then sister, you and I would not even be here today!
I’ll remind you now, that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”. Can you trust God where you do not see? Can you trust Him with your heart? With your finances? With your relationships? The answer is yes! A very loud and confident yes!
Pastor and Author Larry Osborn says this; “Faith looks at God and says, “I know your character. I can trust you.” And then it steps out onto the bridge.”
God honors our obedience! If I truly trust God, then I will display faith in action. I will step out onto the bridge, and I will be blessed!
Father God, I know I can trust you. I know that you are always working for my good. Please forgive me for not stepping out in faith and obeying you when I clearly hear you leading me. Give me the faith to believe. Speak to my heart and remind me of the heroes of faith and their obedience to you. Remind me of the fabulous life of faith and blessing they led because they fully obeyed and trusted you. Thank you for not giving up on me while I deepen my trust in your plan. Amen.