It is easy to believe when times are good.
It is also easy to believe when we know what to expect.
When we are in a reasonable routine and we make plans for tomorrow and those plans come to pass, it is easy to see the hand of God guiding us and protecting us.
But when some calamity comes our way where the outcome is uncertain, it is common that our faith is shaken. In these cases, we don’t know what tomorrow will hold and we worry about it from hour to hour. Will our fears come true? As someone who struggles constantly with anxiety, this is something that I have found a real challenge to my spiritual growth. Or at least, that is the way it seems to me. But what if this is the place where my faith is being realized?
I can look at the past and thank God for all of his abundant blessings He has given. But then do I take the lesson from those blessing and apply to what is to come. This is where faith becomes real: in the future.
Abraham was called out of his homeland to the land that God pointed out for Him. He could have stayed in his homeland and simply said that He believed in the existence of the God who called him. But faith is a relationship. Abraham did not know with certainty what would happen to him. I don’t think he foresaw all of the drama with Hagar, Ishmael, and Sarah. I don’t think he knew about the covenant of circumcision that was coming. And he definitely did not imagine God would ask him to sacrifice his son. The future was a blank slate and God asked him to step out into the darkness. And Abraham did, and his faith was credited to him as righteousness.
The future is darkness. We cannot see it. We can make a best guess as to what has come before, but none of us can guarantee what tomorrow will be like or if we will have a tomorrow. To place our trust in Him is to make a leap into that darkness.
But it is not a blind leap. Like Abraham, we have to develop a strong relationship with God. During the times when things are calm, we need to strengthen those bonds and place ourselves in His presence through prayer. And then when the future is uncertain, we will be able to hear His voice calling to us: “Jump, and I’ll catch you.” This is why they call it a leap of faith.
This, of course, is easier said than done. And even when we know things will work out, we are afraid of the suffering. CS Lewis famously stated “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” (God in the Dock) But do we trust that even the pain is a part of the plan.
A few years ago I lost my job at my first school and got a job at the one I am currently employed. My first year here was the worst year of my career. I had such terrible rapport with the students and the shock of the different culture here that I started developing worsening stomach problems on top of another condition. I began to think that I was no longer suited to be a teacher. I would often find myself in the chapel, begging God for help. The man who hired me found there one day and said, “This time that you are going through, this desert time, you are going to look back on it and see that it has made you stronger and a better teacher.”
I couldn’t see it at the time, but he was right. Fourteen years later, I am still here and I am still a teacher. Even that horrible time helped me be who I am and I can hopefully help others who are going through the same.
The insecurity is the time when our faith is exercised and tested. Again, Lewis stated ““You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth of falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?” (A Grief Observed)
The future is the place of ultimate insecurity because it isn’t here, it isn’t solid, it isn’t fully real. I have to take a step forward in the dark and trust that I will land on solid ground. One of my favorite movies is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In that movie, Indy must make a leap of faith across a casym. He has to trust that even though he doesn’t see a bridge, that he will not fall. Indy breathes deeply, puts his foot out, and steps into the darkness.
To me that has always been the ultimate symbol of faith in the future. If we place our faith that God has our future in His hands, then we can make the leap into His loving arms.
Copyright 2018, WL Grayson