In the Book of Hebrews, Chapter 11, the word faith is mentioned twenty-three times, and in each incident the truth of this word was in response to those who had this faith, the words of verse one, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What they hoped for they hoped for in faith, they were given clear signs and promises, they believed in the things that they could not see, they trusted in the words of the Lord.
The promises of the truths in the Scriptures are our hope, we rely on what we have read to be from one who is faithful to His word, and that faithfulness is always rewarded, but it is no different for us who follow Christ today than it was for those who came before us, we sometimes need proof, we need more than the weak faith that we now possess. But what is faith if it is not tested, what does it mean to step out in faith, and when can we know that what we are doing, or planning to do, is in the will of God? If we ask God to show us first a sign before we move on an idea, are we showing a weak faith, how does one who is determined to follow the will of God in every area of their life take that first step in what could be a life changing direction.
I will use myself as an example here, I have reached an age in this life that I can, in a sense, retire, but I have several years on my beautiful wife, and added onto this, my employment has become enough of a burden to me that I am beginning to bring my frustrations home, and that irritation is beginning to cause minor difficulties between us. These letters to you are a gift from the Lord, and I pray that as you have been reading them they have blessed you also, but my field of employment has begun to diminish the opportunities to continue with them. Here is the dilemma, how am I to know when the time has arrived for me to discontinue my employment, and fulfill what I consider my obligation to the Lord, and still provide for our family. Here my friends, in a sense, is my night in the lion’s den.
Is it wrong in our day to put a fleece out, as Gideon did, twice, (Judges 6) should I continue in my employment area until the Lord shows me a definitive answer, or do I take that step of faith. My situation is not unusual, there are many brothers and sisters that have the same dilemma, what am I to do, how am I to know the will of the Lord, for the worst possible scenario is not the loss of funds or the continued frustration, but the dishonoring of the Name of the Lord by actions that should not have been taken. Is the fleece an option, did not the Lord already answer his request, and the need of the fleece because of that answer was unnecessary, it showed in Gideon a weak faith, it was a genuine faith, but wavering, and wavering faith generally needs some sort of a sign. That does not mean that our Lord is not understanding of our questions in relation to the decisions that we must make in faith, especially when it is a life altering circumstance, but one answer from Him should be enough.
The request for a sign from the Lord does not always infer a weak or wavering faith though, Gideon was shown a clear sign that the Lord was sending him to do what He wanted done when the angel burned up the flesh and unleavened cakes, (Judges 6:21) for some reason he needed more though, hence the fleece and the dream. I do not believe it shows a lack of faith when we are asking the Lord for a sign when the decision not only affects the path of our lives, but when it also will affect the lives of others. When left on our own accord, I can assure you of this much, many times we will mess things up, for we will not take into account not only others that may be affected, but our own personal desires can move us in ways that are not profitable for the kingdom of our Lord. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (1st Cor. 10:23) When we leave the Lord out of our decisions, whether they be great or small, these decisions will lead us astray, and when we leave others out of our decisions that could affect them, it shows a lack of care.
When then, if we see no sign, are we to take that step of faith, when are we to say, “Thy will be done,” and step off the cliff. Rationalization is common sense in the world, and this also is a gift from the Lord, and to continue with the particular dilemma as an example here, the funds necessary for the future are in question only for a short period of time. Many factors must be taken into account, the length of our lives is known only to the Lord, when He is done using you here, you will go home, and not before, but we can “guesstimate,” if you will. How much money is necessary if I live to a particular age, how much to the next increment of that age, cost of living increases, there are of course many variables, but in my mind the only one that is of any consequence is that of my lively wife, and the dishonoring of His Name if I move upon this action before I am supposed to. And therein lies the most agitating question, how are we to know the will of the Lord without a sign from Him, or are we to always expect a sign, an answer that is unquestionably from Him.
In my heart, I am not asking for this sign for my own sake only, but for the sake of my most caring wife, her security of mind is more important to me than any financial stability could ever be, her faith rests securely in the Lord, but it is within the heart of every loving husband that he does everything possible to provide in every area that he is able to for his wife, and that includes financial stability. It is a very perplexing time in my life my brothers and sisters, but it is not one of confusion, for the Lord is not the author of confusion. (1st Cor. 14:33) Which brings me to the final statement in this letter to you on the precepts of faith in major decisions in our lives.
How long should we wait? How long should the child of God continue to knock, what is the time limit of our asking before we step out in faith. When, and if the Lord sends a sign, I believe that we can rest assured that we will not miss it, He is very good at signs, but how long are we to continue in the area of questioning, of seeking, at what point are we to take that step of faith. Where do common sense and faith intermingle, or do they, how can one determine the path of the future without the guidance, without a sign, from the Lord? My sole object in life is to never dishonor the Lord, to be pleasing in His eyes as much as this humble servant can at all times, and so the wrong step could be one of unintentional consequences.
By faith, through faith, twenty-three times alone in Hebrews 11 steps were taken in faith, faith that was guided by the loving hand of the Lord, a hand that I hope rests upon me as I determine to make a life altering decision, and I would pray, that no matter what the circumstances are in your life, the hand that will also guide you.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6)