The Hard Way

2017 was nuts. If you’ve missed all my previous blog posts/insta stories/ Facebook updates, the short version is that I had a major career change and entered “The Ministry” – committing to raising up young missionaries and raising all related expenses (like a salary).  A couple months back, someone asked how all that was going and I gave my typical rehearsed response. I added something to the effect of “I know God could do it so easily, so I’m just waiting and trusting” – and although that sounds all good and Christian, something hit home like it hadn’t before.

You see, I know God absolutely could have provided 100% of the financial support needed on Day One of the job. And though I haven’t gotten caught up too much with the philosophical why-hasn’t-He dilemma, it’s a given that I would’ve preferred God to show up with the money off the bat. A little voice in my head asked if I would’ve said yes to the job if all that hard stuff was easy – and my brain responded of course. Then the little voice asked, “but what if all the easy stuff was hard – would it still be a yes?” and this thought led me down the rabbit hole.

Follow along with me for a second while we visit some Bible heroes, the first being Noah, because that is who popped up in my head during this thought train. As you’ve probably heard, Noah built a huge boat to save his family (and most importantly, the animals) from the big flood. Building the boat is something God told Noah to do, but it was not an easy task. It took approximately 75* years to build and then another 45* years until the rain actually started. I am 100% sure that God could’ve snapped a boat out of thin air and said, “Noah get in,” just as it started raining – and I’m also 110% sure that Noah would’ve preferred this option. Can you imagine slaving 75 years building a boat and then waiting another 45 years hoping that God would come through and you wouldn’t look like a fool? Can you imagine the types of prayers Noah would’ve prayed in those years?

What about Abraham? God told him that he would have a son (even though he and his wife were real old and had never been able to have children). I am 100% sure that God could’ve instantly performed the miracle required to impregnate Abraham’s wife, or even dropped a baby right out of the sky, but instead, baby Isaac didn’t show up on the scene for 15** more years.

What about one of my favourite Bible homegirls, Esther. She had to approach the King and ask him not to murder all her people. I’m 100% sure that God could’ve just changed the King’s mind or whisked all the Israelites to safety. And again, I’m 99% sure that if Esther had to choose, she would’ve preferred that option. She didn’t get the easy option, but she did it anyway.

Think of all the Bible characters you know. They all had to do something hard, that often required waiting and relying fully on God and His promises. And even though they likely prayed for God to come through in an “easier” way, they all stuck it out even when it was hard. No matter how easy or how hard their task would be, they still said yes to God.

Is our faith weak if we will only say yes to God when it’s easy? If we say no to God when it seems too hard, do we really believe His promises? If God always showed up right away, clearing the path, and making our yes’s simple, would we ever learn to really trust Him?

Something I’ve learned over the past year is that faith is actually an action. Sometimes it’s a feeling word that we toss around but don’t attach an action to – similar to “sending our prayers” without ever getting down on our knees and actually praying. There is an action to faith; it is not just merely believing in what you don’t see but acting in response to the promises of God you believe even when you can’t see how it could work. We’re quoting Hebrews 11:1 while overlooking the rest of the chapter; focusing on the believing part and forgetting about the obeying.

Hebrews 11:1 “Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.” Good, okay, solid start. But let’s look at what the following verses say, and I’ll underline every time that faith is shown as an action of our bodies not just a thought in our minds.

Hebrews 11 abbreviated & emphasis added ” 4 It was by faith that Abel offered God a better sacrifice… 7 It was by faith that Noah heard God’s warnings about things he could not yet see. He obeyed God and built a large boat to save his family. 8 It was by faith Abraham obeyed God’s call to go to another place God promised to give him. He left his own country, not knowing where he was to go. 9 It was by faith that he lived like a foreigner in the country God promised to give him… 17 It was by faith that Abraham, when God tested him, offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice… 20 It was by faith that Isaac blessed the future of Jacob and Esau… 27 It was by faith that Moses left Egypt and was not afraid of the king’s anger… 29 It was by faith that the people crossed the Red Sea as if it were dry land30 It was by faith that the walls of Jericho fell after the people had marched around them for seven days. 31 It was by faith that Rahab, the prostitute, welcomed the spies and was not killed with those who refused to obey God. 32 Do I need to give more examples? I do not have time to tell you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. 33 Through their faith they defeated kingdoms. They did what was right, received God’s promises, and shut the mouths of lions. 34 They stopped great fires and were saved from being killed with swords. They were weak, and yet were made strong. They were powerful in battle and defeated other armies. “

Is faith an action word? I think so. Is faith hard? Yes. Are there sometimes seemingly easier ways out that God does not provide? Yes again. But God promises to make our path straight (Proverbs 3:6), light the way (Psalm 119:105), and most importantly, go with us (Deuteronomy 31:6) – not make it easy.

So friends, let me, and the writer of Hebrews, challenge us to do hard things with God. “We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up… 2 Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect.” (Hebrews 2:1-1)

Let our lives tell what our faith means.

 

 


*These are year estimates because I’m not a Bible scholar but it’s based on commentary from others who are. The important part is that there is a big gap between “build the boat” and it actually starting to rain.

**Again, this is an estimate based on the fact that Abraham was in his 80’s when God said he’d have a kid and 100 when Isaac was born but don’t get too caught up on details because that’s besides the point.

NOTE: This blog post was originally written December 2017 before being posted in July 2018. Since December, God has been blowing my mind with His faithful provision in my ministry with YFC Canada and I am at approximately 75% of my goal! If you’re interested in partnering with God and I in this ministry, you can click here or email me.

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