I heard a story about certain military training. Supposedly it includes carrying a pack, performing exercises and challenges, and might even take place over a few days. As the participants get near to what they believe is the end, they can see the finish. They are relieved, thinking they are almost done. However, their leaders keep walking past the finish line, and tell the participants that they are half way done, because they are doing another lap. After days of enduring, it is at that point that many give up. They were able to keep going just a little while before, because they thought they only had a short way to still go. After many have given up, and the remaining participants have walked only a little ways further, the leaders then tell them that they passed, and are done. The test was not just about how far they could physically go. The leaders wanted to know how many would keep going when things were tough, when they didn’t think they could keep going.
I liken this to having faith in God. Jen and I recently moved out. Not so I could have a shorter drive to work. Not because of any specific people in our lives. Not because we were tired of living with other people. The main reason Jen and I moved was because I felt God telling us to move, specifically because of some issues in my heart. You can read the post about moving out here. I didn’t want to move out, because I was enjoying growing fellowship with two of her brothers, and even her mom, but God told me that my relationship with Him was more important. I also didn’t want to move out because of the increased expenses it would bring. Still, God said if I did not move out, He was going to turn my life upside down, because He loved me enough to bring discipline if needed. I could look back and see how God had been having grace with the sin in my heart. I was reminded of Romans 2:4 – Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
See God had been being patient with me, and was telling me He was going to change how He was dealing with me. I was then reminded of Revelation 3:19 – Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.
Another similar verse is Hebrews 12: 5-6: …My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.
He brought to my thoughts other people whose sin had negatively affected their whole life, even the lives of their loved ones around them. He was going to start doing whatever it took for me to take my sin seriously. I literally put my hands up during prayer and said, “Ok God, I give up, I’m sorry for delaying. We’ll go.” The next day we were looking at apartments and two days later, we were signing the paperwork.
So what am I getting at? This is what Jen wrote on the original post: “So at this time, while we’re not sure where all the money will come from and where God will lead us, we’re excited and having faith to see what He has for us, and the growth that will occur during this next part of our journey. Especially in Bret’s heart.”
See, our expenses were going to be at least 400 dollars more than our income, every month. Still, I knew that if God was telling us to move, He was going to provide. If He didn’t provide, then we would use up all the money he gave to us from the insurance on the truck when it was in the accident (another amazing story of God’s grace, we’ll tell you about another day). Instead of seeing that money as something to save, I saw it as something God may have provided before we would need it. If we went through all of that money, then went broke, I would still have faith that He had told us to move out.
Here is the awesome news: only 1 month after moving out, Jen noticed a mistake she had on the budget. She hadn’t included a huge chunk of monthly income, which would allow us to not just afford to live here, but even continue to save money. I believe God had kept our eyes closed to that fact, so that when we moved, it was in faith in God, not in the money. And now we look back, thankful that God gave us the faith.
There is a difference in asking God if we can be sure if He will keep His word, and asking how He will keep His word. When John the Baptist’s dad, Zechariah, heard the angel tell him his wife would have a baby, he asked, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years” (Luke 1:18). Because of that, he was caused to be mute until John was born. However, when Mary was told that she would give birth to Jesus, her question was, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34) Zechariah was asking how he could be sure God would do something He said he would, while Mary on the other hand was asking how God would do it.
I didn’t even care how He would provide for us financially, I just knew that He would. The cool thing, we were only tested for 1 month (during this specific situation). It reminds me of those people who kept going, even when the end looked so far away. Their instructors knew they really only had to keep going for a little further. The instructors had a reason for what they were doing. If the participants had known they only had to keep it up for a little while longer, and had kept going, it wouldn’t have shown their will. If Jen and I knew God was going to so quickly provide, or if we had the money before we moved, it wouldn’t have shown our faith.
This faith doesn’t just apply to going through something, it may apply to not having something you want. I have seen people who felt God calling them somewhere, even to a ministry, but they didn’t go because they valued something or someone more. Then, after they decided to follow their own heart, it was shown that they would have had to only wait a little while longer, and God would have provided them a way to have the other thing or person they wanted also. Instead, they didn’t go where God had been calling them, and prematurely chose to pursue what they wanted. How tragic!
If you don’t know how you are going to get through something, keep having faith. If you want something that God is not giving you at this time, have faith. If you don’t want to go somewhere He is calling you, have faith. Here is one thing Jesus prayed for His disciples in John 17:13-18 – I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. And one final verse, Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
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