Over the past few months I’ve had several challenging and what I would call significant conversations about the process of growing in our faith throughout our spiritual journey. There’s no question that faith is something that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), but it is also a quality of our lives that can be exercised much like our physical bodies and various muscles and organs.
For whatever reason, there are quite a few sincere followers of Christ who are really confused when it comes to this matter of faith. They see it simply as something that you “get from God when the time comes” and don’t think much else about it. It’s not uncommon to hear someone quote the verse that says “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed” you can do anything. This does not mean that our journey of faith should simply end with a mustard seed portion as our goal.
In fact, Jesus chastised the disciples on occasion when they displayed little faith, not as punishment but as encouragement to learn to believe God in ever increasing ways as we journey through this life.
In a very recent conversation, one good friend commented to me that ‘it’s very difficult if you’ve not been aware of how faith works in your life to believe God when the crisis hits you unexpectedly and personally’. He’s right. We should continually be exercising our faith and believing God day to day for the provision, healing, courage, the various fruits and gifts of the Spirit to be active in our life, so that when we face an unforeseen and difficult challenge we are prepared to face it.
If you recall in the life of David, his confidence in addressing the overwhelming powerful opponent of Goliath, who was literally holding the armies of Israel at bay and threatening to destroy them, was a result of his cultivating faith in his life. He mentions how he overcame the lion and the bear and perhaps other creatures and or challenges in the wild so that the same God who gave him victory with those lesser things would surely give him victory with this seemingly impossible giant.
In the past year, I’ve been examining my own daily faith practices. I try to make a point every day of putting my faith to the test in a particular area and then evaluate week by week how I’m doing in believing God for his provisions, guidance, break through and victory. I wish I could say that I had nothing but unbroken steps of ever increasing faith, but that’s not the case. Rather, I’ve discovered that when you set out to grow in faith you inevitably must face risk, and risk inherently has an element of failure to it. The fear of failure may be our greatest impediment to growing in faith.
But I’ve discovered that real life requires of me a willingness to try and perhaps fail and then try again. Even though I have to acknowledge times where I’ve not seen the outcome for which I was believing, I want to more enthusiastically say that I’ve also become much more confident in my prayers and in the possibility that I will see answers to things that may have intimidated me in previous times.
I don’t want to make this sound like a calculated strategy as much as a relational and prayerful commitment I’m learning to make in this season of my journey. All around me there are people who are battling serious illnesses, relational heartbreak and many other unwanted obstacles. In my own life, I continue to battle with rather chronic back pain and associated physical limitations. However, the day that I just give up believing and stop praying with faith would literally be the day that I succumb to the lies of the evil one.
In fact, rather than feel defeated in some of these larger areas of need, I find myself remaining thankful for the hope that’s within me and ever increasing in my hunger to see fulfilled what God has promised as part of my identity as one of His sons.
I can’ t begin to understand it with my mind, but there’s no debating the fact that Jesus said “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I’m going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
Although I’m certainly not there yet, I’m blessed and honored to be surrounded with like-minded believers who are reaching out to God for demonstrations of those ‘greater things’ promised by Jesus and received by faith.