Faith. Without it, Hebrews tells us it is impossible to please God (11:6). It is more than just accepting Christ as Lord; faith is a lifestyle of trusting Him. How horrible to share a home with someone you couldn’t trust or refused to believe you. As Christians, we are called to live in it. So why don’t we?
Well, faith has become in many circles an abstract idea that refers solely to the acceptance of a God they cannot see. However, Hebrews tells us, “Now, faith is the substance of what we hope for, the evidence of what is not seen” (11:1). Faith is essentially an everyday reality of looking forward with hope, knowing there is an expected end. It has substance that can be relied upon. There is nothing futile about it. Faith refuses to look behind. As the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians three, verse fourteen, that he forgets what is behind to press forward. Why? Because faith chooses to see the promise that lies ahead of it and greets it, much like a friend. In choosing to acknowledge God’s promises every day, we train our minds towards expectancy, and our actions begin to line up with our mindset. We start to prepare for the promise. That’s one of the reasons Jesus told a man that no one who sets his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom (Luke 9:62). To follow requires a faith that refuses to look back!
Faith is a dogged determination to grab hold of God’s reality regardless of what is happening outwardly. We all want to be the ones with the faith that Hebrews 11:33 says conquered kingdoms, shut the mouths of lions, quenched fires, and put armies to flight. Let’s remember though that to do this, there must be a lion faced, a wall to scale, a fire to address, and an army to fight. It is all facing it, so we must, in faith, do likewise and meet it head-on. However, what about the rest of that Scripture. I find it interesting that it is not in the heroic conquests of faith that we find the phrase, “of whom the world was not worthy” (11:38). No, this observance is made amid speaking of the wanderers who have been afflicted and mistreated; those who find themselves in the desert, on a mountain, in a cave, not to mention the occasional hole in the ground.
James tells us that it’s during these times when our faith is tested, that perseverance is cultivated in our lives – that choice to continue to move forward without a backward glance. And in doing so, we are made complete and whole in Christ, lacking nothing (James 1:4). It’s not always easy this moving forward, especially when we’ve been hurt or have hurt others. However, this is the time to count it all joy (James 1:2)! When you consciously choose to face forward, expecting God to be who He said He would be and to deliver on every promise He gave, He will follow through. Looking back, only causes us to harden in bitterness and like Lot’s wife, become an example of failure instead of triumph (Gen. 19:26). In fact, Jesus told us to remember her. In choosing to try to hold on to her past lifestyle, even taking one last glimpse of it, her life was forfeit (Luke 17:32-33).
So, faith. It is seeing God’s promise, greeting it like a friend who has announced their imminent arrival, preparing for it, and moving forward in anticipation of its arrival while refusing to look at the past should haves, could haves, would haves of our lives, and trusting that He is able. It is putting complete trust in the One who has charted a course of victory and life. What you are moving toward is His promise. You’ll never find it in the past. Don’t fear the lions or even a time of wandering in the desert. Faith is not contingent on location or success defined by the world. It is measured by the degree to which your eyes remain focused upon Christ – the Author and Finisher of Our Faith. Keep looking forward!