There’s something about faith that is rather like dying, only no one ever tells you that. I imagine that Job felt it. Ask him what he thought…what he felt…what he was looking at, when he said “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. (Job 1:21) Abraham carried the weight of it in his spirit when he was climbing that mountain and telling his precious son “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering…” (Genesis 22:8). Mary must have felt it keenly in the reactions of her family and friends when she told them that she was pregnant. With the son of God? Oh sure.
But all three of them looked right past what was going on around them and into the unseen world to believe a Bigger Story. In the middle of the circumstances that unfolded from one day to the next, the way life does, there was an aspect of waiting to see what God would do. It’s like having one foot planted in the tangible here and now and the other foot in the unseen reality of where He will lead. Believing in the unseen world means releasing my version of reality, with all the things I am planning and working towards, and all the ways I feel about the life I am living. It means giving up any illusion of control, free-falling into whatever impossible and unexpected things God wants to accomplish. And there might be a flaming bush, or a damp fleece, or a voice in the night– or there might only be quiet waiting for a door to open, for a sudden shift in the-way-things-are. Sometimes it can be exhilarating. Sometimes, quite honestly, it feels like dying, and maybe that’s the way it should be.
The Letter-Writer to the believing Jews explained faith this way: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is seeing things with the eyes of the spirit– things the physical eye cannot see. So whenever we look beyond the good things of this world and see the Giver, faith is at work. And every time we look at the painful broken things around us and can still see Jesus, there is faith. And in seeing Him and giving thanks, in both the good and the bad, self-sufficiency and self-pity are put to death and we set our hearts on the invisible kingdom where Jesus rules forever.
Faith allows this world to be turned upside-down, for the joy of finding the right-side-up kingdom of heaven, and I can hear Jesus saying, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” (Matthew 10:39) And if the waiting and hoping are painful at times, still we believe we have found a Truth worth staking our lives on, and a Love worth pursuing with our whole hearts. Like Job and Abraham we are “longing for a better country—a heavenly one.” And the Letter-Writer says “…God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:16)
Walking around these wallsDo It Again, Elevation Worship
I thought by now they’d fall
But You have never failed me yet
Waiting for change to come
Knowing the battle’s won
For You have never failed me yet
Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You’ve never failed me yet
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!2 Corinthians 4:17