Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1 [KJV]
Here’s a problem to solve. You leave Rancho Cucamonga, driving east at 62 mph. As you travel, you’ll listen to many local radio stations. How many times will you hear Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” on the radio before arriving at your destination?
Ponder this. Consider all the information you have. Have you come up with an answer?
It’s an unsolvable problem. Why? We don’t have enough information. We don’t know how many different radio stations ‘ll listen to, or where any particular song pops up in these broadcasters’ rotations. (My guess is “Don’t Stop Believing” will be heard about six times per state on average.)
The main piece of missing information: where we’re going. The problem doesn’t tell us our destination, or how far we will travel, or the route we will take. We may think know where we’re heading. In truth, we just don’t know the future with any degree of certainty.
Just like life.
Some of us have a plan for life. We set goals. We plot out a path. We travel along the road.
What we don’t see are the potholes. The detours. The breakdowns. The side trips. The fender benders. No matter how orderly and well planned our lives may seem, none of us know with absolute certainty what tomorrow – what the next second – may bring. We are speeding down the highway of life, oblivious to the hidden curve ahead.
To the oncoming car in the wrong lane.
Last week I was driving down a two-lane highway in rural Indiana. The sun was shining. The trip was going well. Just as I crested a hill, I hit a deer. I didn’t see him. By God’s grace, we were all okay. The car suffered some fender damage, but no one was hurt.
I hadn’t planned to hit a deer. It wasn’t in my itinerary. My plan had us arriving at our destination – without incident – in three hours from beginning our trip.
Within 45 minutes, that had all changed.
If we can’t navigate our way through life based on what we see and perceive, what do we do? How do we live? Ahhh… this is where faith comes in.
Faith – the reality of our hopes, the proof of the things we cannot see. We have to adjust our focus to see life through the lens of faith, not merely what we can figure out.
There are many differences between us and God. The main one is this:
He is sovereign.
We are not.
God is in control. Even when we cannot see it. Even when it makes no sense. Even when bad things happen.
Even when our life’s plan is trashed, our itinerary ruined.
When life runs into a ditch – and, believe me, it will at some point – we need to have the tools to get back on the road. Faith – knowing God has you in His hands and is running the show – is the key to living life.
Here are four simple steps that will help us develop eyes of faith:
1. Recognize the sovereignty of God in all things, macro and micro. Nobody gets elected without the Lord putting them in office. Nobody hits a deer without God knowing it was going to happen – and having a plan for dealing with the situation. Instead of trying to figure everything out, we need to understand God knows and is in control. He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnipresent (everywhere at once).
2. Recognize the love and grace of God. God’s love is far greater than our mental capacity to measure it. God’s grace – His unmerited favor over us – reaches beyond what we can see. God loves you. He sent His Son to die to save each of us – to save you. You personally. Yes, the Lord loves you that much. He is a good, loving Father. You can do nothing – nothing – to lose that love.
3. Recognize the truth of God. He is the creator and sustainer of all. He is the One Who set the ultimate itinerary (a.k.a. God’s will). We have no need to twist ourselves into pretzels trying to figure out what He’s doing or why He let any particular event happen. God is God. He has a plan. And we are not necessarily privy to every detail of that plan. We are called to believe. Period.
4. Recognize who we are in God’s plan. We are flawed. We are sinful. We live in a sinful world. But, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. We are loved. We are adopted children of our Heavenly Father. We are also part of a larger community, called to love, to serve, to help. We are not called to live in isolation. When bad things happen, we can be an inspiration to others through our faith.
Our life goes far beyond our own plans and schemes. The sooner we understand that God is the one running the show (not us), the better our lives will be. We will find peace and joy in the midst of anything we face.
Live with eyes of faith. Know you are deeply, deeply loved. And, whatever you do, don’t stop believing.