What makes for extraordinary faith?
Having reached some sort of apex of disgust
and dissatisfaction with everything mediocre,
I have, of late, come before the Lord asking
Him to search me out and to instruct me as I
am loathe to go one step further in the land
There is so much glib talk of faith, and
so much perversion of what faith is really
all about: a hundred fleshly traps trying
to lure us into a comprehension of faith that
is merely mental, or a hedonistic use of faith
which will only spend the spoils on our flesh.
What is the real thing?
Scripture tells us, "Without faith it
is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11:6)
so a lot is at stake.
I think faith hinges on a couple key
points: 1) that God exists, a good
God who loves us and wants to show
Himself to His children in His great
goodness.(Jer. 33:3, John 15:15). Faith
tells me I can lean my full weight into
Him without fear (Rom 10:11);
and that 2) He answers and rewards those
who earnestly seek and believe Him
If you listen to what is out there
being preached about faith and how
to work God like a slot machine, er, I
mean have it, it is so strongly
smelling of human flesh that I'm surprised
that God has not lost His temper. Really.
What I have often seen is that
characteristic human tendency to
try and avoid the hard work of
relationship and try to just
use faith to get "things." The
old "sneak in the back door and
steal the pie off the table" trick.
That might be ok for a dog, but
it is beneath our dignity and
calling as children of God.
When people talk about what they
are believing for, it often has a cold
tone to it, like the prize is what they
have their eyes on, and the prize
is a thing, however needed or wanted,
and not Jesus Himself. No wonder that
sounds a little cold, it IS cold.
Cold enough so that soon the prize
becomes "my precious": that elusive
desired object that will turn a man into
a golem, or worse.
Of course popular opinion sees no reason
why God should not answer my prayer just
like I want it answered, exactly on my
time schedule, only to satisfy my desires,
and with no perseverance on my part.
How silly to think the true nature of
faith might be otherwise. We can have
"relationship" another time. Call me
next month, we can "do lunch" with God.
It makes my stomach churn.
But as with all things, I am
beginning to think we can also err too far
in the opposite direction. I tend
toward the "Abandon everything to
God" camp. That camp leans more toward
the notion that all we need is to do is
have faith in God's character and submit to
The trick is keeping that truth
correctly on biblical course for
it can morph itself into a kind of
passive disdain for great leaps
of faith. "Abandon" can have
two aspects: abandoning all
rights to steer my own course,
control my destiny, or put myself
in the place of God. These are great
ways to abandon. Sitting around
waiting for Jesus to come and
letting others do the work
that God has called His Body to
do in the earth is not so much
the idea behind abandonment.
The trouble with abandonment,
or abandonment improperly
understood, is that it can
leave me inactive. Inactive enough to verge
on wasting my life and time. Inactive
enough for it not to be biblical faith,
or biblical abandonment, at all.
Abandonment should not make me paralyzingly
passive and reluctant or afraid
to press into God's best and highest
So how do I have an extraordinary
What I think God is after
is this: He wants us to watch and
wait and sit with Him for
a long time, day in and day out,
until we begin to know Him and
what He would want and what He
would do. (I assume the reason
that faith is one of the things that
will remain (cp. I Cor 13:13) is that
we could watch God for all
eternity and still not take Him
all in! There will still be plenty of room
for faith in eternity because there
will still be plenty of God to watch.
Yet, here and now we can begin to
know Him, just as we would
a spouse, or close friend, or
relative whom we have lived with
for a long time.
By sitting with Him we begin to know
Him, and know what He values, and how He
will respond. So, correspondingly, what
we ask for and how we ask for it also
develops along with that. So I can be
at a stage where I ask amiss for
everything, like a kid in a candy store,
or I can move to a place where I do not ask
for anything because I can't be sure if its
the "right" thing.
Both are errors.
Early in our faith walk, God
might answer us in broad sweeps,
just to let us know that He answers,
but as we go along, He refines
our faith (i.e. how we hold
our active beliefs toward God)
by making our faith more
precise (i.e. our prayers
do not get answered so quickly
because we have to "get the
math" right). Earlier we might
get by with 2x2=5, gee,
close enough, but God can't let
that go on and grow us up like
a good and proper Dad would.
It wouldn't be right for the
Architect of our faith letting
us try and build a house with
our times-tables all out of whack.
But back to passive and active faith.
This week, I saw this quote, in some
form or another, in several places.
It was referring to George Mueller,
the Englishman who believed God for
the modern day equivalent of more than
$150,000,000 to supply the needs of
Here is the quote: "God loves to
vindicate the confidences of His
children." I like it tweeked a little
more to: "God loves to vindicate the
confidence His children have in Him."
It subtly puts the emphasis a little
more on how worthy He is, and a little
bit less on our confidence.
The truth is that He is worthy of
ALL our confidence. George Mueller
was able to believe that God wanted
to give him the resources to take
care of untold thousands of children
in need. What gave him that kind of
boldness? It was his confidence that the
care and compassion he had for
orphans came straight out God's
heart and was in line with God's
desire to help and bless untold
I am sure that Mueller did not have
the faith to believe for that kind of
money all at once. He persevered
with God. He looked to God. What God
wanted came to him as he had relationship
with God day in and day out, in rainy
days and sunny days alike. He had to keep
believing for the needs that arose. It
wasn't a one time thing. A lot of difficult
things pressed against him, but he kept
believing in who God is and had confidence,
great confidence, that He provides.
God was more than pleased to vindicate
Mueller's confidence in Him. We have
to put ourselves out there and have
confidence in God. In order to do that
we have to spend time with Him, we
have to watch Him and listen to Him,
and most of all OBEY Him. None of this
is passive, it is actually quite
active: the active work of faith!
From this we see God act in our lives and our
confidence in Him grows. As our confidence
grows we will be emboldened to watch
our corner of the world through
God's eyes and begin to believe
that His kingdom will come on
the part of the earth that
God has given us to tend with Him.
What if our ground is full of rocks?
What if birds eat the seed sown?
What if weeds choke the Word He
plants? What if robbers sneak in
and steal my goods? What if rascals
beat me up and leave me for dead?
The world is full of "what if's",
but faith is full of this: BUT GOD!
We must have confidence
that He can and will overcome all that
opposes His work and His Kingdom. Jesus said,
"You have not because you ask not."
He also says, "If we, being evil, know how
to give good things to our children,
how much more will God give good things
to those who ask Him?" (Matthew 7:11).
George Mueller wanted to show forth that
God answered prayer just as He did in the
Bible. He did not think it depended on
him, neither did he think that it would
just happen without his intercession and
faith. He pressed into the burden that
God gave him and He believed God. He did
not say, "if God wills." He was not unsure.
He did not believe for gold-covered sinks
for himself, but for gold to feed the
children of God. Moreover, he believed
God because he had come to know God.
The question is this: How can I show
forth my confidence in the Lord?
What exploits does He want me to
ask Him to accomplish? What ground
does He want to take back from the
Enemy with me? Whose life does
He want to impact through me? What
of His Son does He want to reveal
through my life? How will knowing
Him change everything?
Some will have a thirty-fold confidence
in Him, some a sixty-fold confidence,
and some a hundred-fold confidence.
But let us have confidence!
Look around your world. Ask the Lord
to let you look through His eyes. See
what He wants to ransom! See who He
wants to show Himself strong to!
See where His eye is gazing and go
there with Him! Believe Him! Tell Him
how sure you are that He is who He
says He is and will accomplish all
that pertains to His purpose. Press in
to know that purpose! God loves to
vindicate the confidence
of His children.
Do not have faith for things that
will fade away, or for things that
arise from your flesh, or
for things that have no eternal
consequence. Have faith for those
things that make the Heart of God pound
hard in His strong Chest. Have faith in
HIM! He is a God who does great and good
exploits and calls you to participate with
Him in those exploits! You will not be
disappointed. God is looking to vindicate
the confidence of His children.