I wasn’t searching for the most mysterious concept in the universe, but I think I somehow found it: Faith.
The more I think about it, pray about it, read about it, hear about it, or believe I know about it, the more mysterious it seems to be.
It’s easy to talk about faith as if it’s a tangible object we can hold like a phone or our favorite coffee mug. But it’s more like air … we can’t see it or grab hold of it. Yet, we can’t live without it. And we’re supposed to stretch it and share it.
Faith seems like something we either have or we don’t have, but it’s not stagnant – it shrivels up when it’s not used and it grows when it’s exercised. So it’s not enough to just have faith, we have to live with faith so we can grow our faith.
Oh, it’s easy when the object of our faith is easily seen – when our experiences tell us that something is true and believable. But when we’re called to believe in something that’s less tangible – something like the power of God – well, that’s a bit more difficult. As long as we’re looking right at Him, we can walk on water; but as soon as we focus on the storm and the waves, we sink like a rock.
Intellectually, we might find it easy. But the challenge is moving from words to actions – to quit a job that feels secure because God is calling us to something new … to give money or time that we don’t seem to have because God is challenging us to let go of what is His … to trust God to bring conviction on someone when everything within us tells us it’s our job not God’s to set that person straight.
In Hebrews 11:6 we learn the critical importance of active faith: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Not challenging or difficult. Impossible.
When I was working on Grow Like Jesus, I took a deeper look at what it meant to grow in “favor with God” and I came to the conclusion that a key way we do that is simply by trusting in Him. Regardless of the situation and regardless of our actions, nothing we do will please God if it’s not rooted in faith.
But if we have that faith and earnestly seek God, He will reward that belief – including by giving us more faith when we need it.
Mark’s gospel tells about a man who took his troubled son to the disciples in hopes that they could relieve the boy of an evil spirit. When they failed, the father asked Jesus to help, saying, “if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” (Mark 9:22)
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes” (v.23)
To which the boy’s father immediately shouted in desperation, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (v.24)
This is oh-so-familiar refrain in my life, and, I suspect, in yours. But here’s the great news: When the man asked, Jesus answered. He helped him overcome his unbelief. So whenever I’m struggling to live out this concept called faith, I know right where to start: By surrendering it to Jesus. How does that work? That’s the mystery of faith.
Read Hebrews 11
Read Mark 9