Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stand and Walk

“We walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) How many of us know this scripture? Many of us do know it, we have memorized it, we have repeated it, prayed it, clung to it. But do we truly understand what it means? There was a time in my life when my faith was not as big as it is now. In fact, faith was a word that I knew, but not something I had experienced to a grand extent. I thought I had faith, in fact, I thought I was pretty darn full of some faith. But, I was wrong. I had a lot to learn and a God who was eager to teach me.
The walk of faith is simple, yet we as believers make it so much harder than it has to be. I can say that because I too was tripping over my own lack of understanding in regards to faith. I knew there was more to this walk of mine, I knew something was missing but I just could never put my finger on it. Then one day, out of heaven came the Lord my God telling me to take a huge step of faith, to jump into the unknown and trust Him.
There is a part to my testimony that I have left out for a specific reason. That reason is that it was personal; it was a struggle and a growing pain that the Lord wanted Him and me to go through alone. He would only let me divulge bits and pieces throughout this past year to you all. But today, I believe that He is telling me it is okay to be completely open with you, because He has taught me a very valuable lesson in faith and about faith that I desire to share with you all. (Bear with me; this may be a long blog today!)
A year ago, (you all know this testimony) the Lord told my husband and I to step out in faith, to jump into His hands. I haven’t told you all exactly what He spoke to me that day, but I am going to share it with you now. I was sitting at my job, doing my normal daily routine and I heard the Lord say, “Quit your job, I am going to restore you to lead Children’s Ministry. Write for me, follow me, and trust me.” You all know the struggles that I went through in the months leading up to my husband and I’s “leap of faith”, so I won’t go into the details again. The “restoration” part is what I have kept to myself (well mostly to myself, a few ladies I love and dearly cling to know) because of the growth that I have just had to go through.
I can say, with all confidence that we do “walk by faith, not by sight.” Faith is not a word that should trip us up. Faith is what gives us the motivation to get up every morning. Faith is what directs our steps; it is what brings us to our knees when we need Jesus. You have faith, all of us who love Jesus Christ, who have given our lives to Him, have faith-it is a requirement. There is no other way to be saved but through faith. “For by grace you are saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8)
Psalm 37:23-24 states, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not utterly be cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” To understand, to exercise the faith that we have been given, there is one simple truth we need to grasp hold of.
God is not surprised, shocked or taken back unexpectedly by our words, thoughts or actions.
The Psalmist tells us that our steps are ordered (established and directed) by the Lord. We must know this truth and believe this truth- God already knows what you are going to do before you do it. He is not surprised; He is not sitting on His throne in heaven, with His hands over His eyes, shaking His head saying, “What were you thinking? How could you have done that?” He already knew you were going to say, do, act and react the way that you did. When we accept this truth, when we understand that God is ever present, when we can grasp that God is eternal, and that He has planned our lives out from start to finish, the ability to “walk by faith” begins to take root and we are free to move.
The Psalmist also tells us that “though he (we) fall, he (we) shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him (us) with His hand.” (vs. 24) This is what I had to experience to the fullest. I knew the Lord was telling me to quit my job, to wait upon the restoration that He was working, but every once in a while I would take a step that He had not directed and I would fall and get hurt. But never in all those times was the Lord God surprised! He allows us to fall so that He can show us His faithfulness, His mercy, His power in us through those scrapes and bruises. Every step we take the Lord already has worked out, and when we fall, when we step out we are stepping out in FAITH that the Lord God has us in the palm of His hands. (And He does, He delights in us)
Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” When the Lord told me He was going to restore me, a hope was placed in my heart, a desire and a direction was given to me. I could not see the Lord working it out, and trust me, there were days that I thought for sure I had totally misheard and mistook what He had clearly spoken to me. But, in those moments of disbelief and doubt, I would fall and He would uphold me, He would confirm His word to me and we would continue to walk. I could not see the end; I could not see the promise being fulfilled at all. But He just kept telling me to walk, to follow Him, to trust Him. I can’t even tell you how many times He told me, “You walk by faith, Stephane and not by sight.” So I would keep pressing forward.
He would give me the example of Abraham and Sarah, and the promise of Isaac, and how Abraham waited, and hoped, and expected the Lord to fulfill His promise. Abraham “did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthen in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was able to perform.” (Romans 4:201-21) I too was fully convinced that what the Lord had promised me, He was able to fulfill- that is what faith is.
Faith is taking a step and trusting that He who promised is faithful to fulfill it. Faith starts in the heart and moves to our feet. Fear and doubt hold us back from fully experiencing all the Lord Jesus Christ has for us. I know because I allowed fear and doubt to be the chains of my walk. I allowed my doubt to take rule over my faith. I do not want to mislead anyone by thinking that if we want a new car we should ask in faith- that is not what I am referring to. That is not faith- that is selfish lust for the things of this world and the Lord does not delight in that.
Faith is standing upon the promises of God and allowing Him to direct your life as He sees fit. “Faith is not believing that God can, it is knowing that He will.” We have to walk at some point- we all have to grow up at some point and shed the fear that keeps us from standing and stepping out onto the path the Lord has prepared for us. You may be asking, “But what if I step out in faith and that is not what the Lord wanted me to do?” “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” (Psalm 37:24) If you do fall, He will pick you up. God is not going to be surprised by what you do- He already knew you were going to do it and has already planned and prepared the way.
How do we walk by faith then? First, we get to know the One who is leading; second, we just do it. Oswald Chambers wrote, “Faith doesn’t know where it is being led, but it knows and loves the One who is leading.” We have to at some point take that step of faith that the Lord God is calling us to- or not. He will not force you, and besides, He knows if you are going to take that step or not. He is not surprised or shocked by us, He knows us too well.
Today, however, I can say with all confidence that God is true and I do walk by faith and not by sight. For God gave me a promise, and I stood upon it, I hoped for it, I too did not waver in unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and I am fully convinced that He who promised- He did perform. I am constantly amazed at the glory and the mercy and the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Because He counted me worthy, He called me His friend.
Stand, Stand, Stand, Stand- that is how we learn to walk.