The hallmark of Christianity is faith, defined pointedly in Hebrews 11:1 as “The assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.” Faith is the substance of the Christian life; through grace we’re saved by it and the just in turn live by it (Hebrews 10:38). But besides its undermining value as cliché, what is faith and what does it look like?
I recently found myself praying to God that my life, if being read like a book, would garner critique as being completely illogical. Using the world’s paradigm, faith, generally speaking, isn’t logical: so much so that if you entertain what the world is saying, it’s easy to subscribe to the philosophies, feelings and guidelines that it proposes. I think it’s safe to say that faith isn’t easy.
Besides, what business did Abraham have, clinically speaking, to believe that Sarah would give birth to Isaac at age 90? This example of faith, (actually THE example of faith in the New Testament) shouldn’t serve as the extreme template but rather THE template. Perhaps you’ll find that the sentiment which claims that this is an extreme example of faith is in the same ballpark of those who say that Jesus’ works can’t be replicated, although just about the entire second half of the Gospel of John conveys otherwise.
Abraham and Sarah’s miracle birth of Isaac would probably invoke overuse of the term “impossible” in the medical community today. But impossible doesn’t have application to the faith-filled person. It isn’t received naturally. Abel, Enoch and Noah, as described in Hebrews 11, didn’t receive the world’s perception of impossible, so why should I when they’re the ‘fathers of my faith?’ These people were baseline examples in describing what faith is by the author of Hebrews and others speaking out of the evangelism of the early church.
Faith comes alive and is revealed in the midst of poor circumstances. True faith is tempered in these times. And faith can only be considered for what it is completely separate of circumstance (like the obvious circumstances surrounding the promise of conception at age 90).
Recently, my pastor and his wife brought two baby girls into the world, bringing the household tally to six. God had spoken to them months before to believe and hold on to the promise for a minivan to adequately shuttle their family to and fro. They believed this to be true and even in the hospital with both girls in his arms, my pastor, Brian Connolly, believed for a minivan even though at this point it needed to come right about now! And then the phone rang. Hours later a stranger signed over a $23,000 check and my pastor drove back to the hospital in a minivan. You see, faith wasn’t revealed through the miracle of the minivan, it was revealed through not looking to finance a minivan when it hadn’t yet arrived.
With faith, there can’t be an exit strategy or fall back plan in your prayer life, because that’s the absence of faith. As a church, we should be praying with less “if it’s your will God” and more “Let your will be done on earth just as it is in heaven.” There should be less “if’s” in our prayers if we truly believe that we have access to the throne and some inside information as to what His will is (aka the life of Jesus; also see Ephesians 1:8-9).
“With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” (Ephesians 1:8-9)
As I talked with my friend Nick the other day, a soon-to-be father of a baby girl, Leilah Jubilee, we proclaimed together to forget the “if’s” and arrive at a place of faith. His baby, due in mid February, has been diagnosed with Anencephaly, a bleak diagnosis that has a lot of doctors using the term, “impossible.” Impossible should sound familiar, and it also shouldn’t scare us one bit. The God of the impossible is very near: so is the example set by the fathers and mothers of our faith. A mother at 90, a catastrophic flood that actually occurred, never experiencing death (Sarah, Noah, Enoch). We’re in good company. No exit strategies, “if’s,” “and’s,” “but’s,” or permission to believe anything less than the impossible, just faith that Leilah Jubilee will be born healthy and whole.
-By Joe D’Orsie – Communications and Spiritual Life Counsel – Live With Purpose Coaching