My husband’s voice came through the phone, “Mindy, it’s worse than we imagined. Much worse. Can you talk?”
As I processed the unfolding events, my reeling mind and emotions searched for solid footing. I recalled my usual morning prayer: Father, I don’t yet know what today holds, but you do. This day may be one to enjoy, or it might be one to endure, but through it all, your mercies are new every morning. Help me trust you. I want to flourish no matter what this day reveals.
This prayer reminds me that God is sovereign. No matter what events shake my world, when I hold fast to His love and purpose, His grace works all things for good. (Romans 8:28) When I’m blindsided by news too shocking to believe, this prayer anchors me in the storm.
During trials, we usually have one of two responses: either we
hide and wait for the storm to pass,
or we act and get to work finding a solution. I remember the first time God told me,
fight for you; you
need only to be still.” (Exodus
It had to be the Lord because those words do not naturally enter my mind. My usual response is to start problem solving and make a plan, but I have learned the value of waiting and watching to see what God is doing.
I’m right there with Gideon, hiding in the winepress, waiting for the storm to clear. The Israelites have been crying out for relief for seven long years. God has answered through a prophet, urging them to turn away from false gods, but they are unwilling. The Israelites will not find freedom until they stop worshipping Baal, but this means upsetting the status quo. In their pain, they have found respite in false gods. No one is bold enough to destroy the places of idol worship and risk community outrage.
How many times have I been there, on the fence, unwilling to confront my lukewarm faith and reject the idolatry of my heart? I’m yours God, but I also enjoy these comforts. Can’t I have a little bit of both? Don’t make me choose. But God is clear that we must choose. We will struggle to walk in His power if our heart is divided.
When God instructs Gideon to confront the status quo by tearing down Baal altars and Asherah poles, our crusader obeys, but he uses the cover of night to hide. He knows these actions will ignite a hostile backlash. The secret isn’t a secret for long, and the rumor mill identifies Gideon as the perpetrator.
How does Gideon find the inner
strength to take this bold and unpopular
stand? When I am called, will I be able to do the same? Courageous obedience begins with faith.
When we trust God’s Word and stand with confidence in His strength, we can step out with assurance.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
What do you hope for? What do you not yet see? Hebrews chapter 11 recounts the lives of women and men who lived in courageous obedience. They were not promised comfort and ease; in fact, some of their stories are downright terrifying, but they found their safe place in God’s will.
Faith in God is the empowering force that leads us into a life of purpose. Without it, we cannot please God, so how do we cultivate a strong faith? Hebrews chapter 12 provides insight into the how: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2a
Gospel basics: turn from sin and run to Jesus! We don’t need to complicate our faith. The message is simple—don’t let sin get a foothold and stay connected to Jesus. OK, sounds reasonable, but why is it so hard to do? As I’ve pondered this question, I see four main ways the enemy attacks our faith and gets our eyes off Jesus.
I doubt God. Is He good? Is He powerful
to save? Does He care
what’s happening to me? Doubt
makes God seem small and irrelevant. It fights
against faith like a virus that gets
into my thoughts and spreads fear. (Psalm 27) Just as Gideon put out
the fleece (twice!),
we strengthen our faith when we ask God to confirm His word and create a
quiet space to listen.
I doubt myself. Do I have what it takes? The task is too difficult. When I set my eyes on myself rather than Jesus, I worry about my weakness. I forget that my weakness creates space for God’s power to show up. All you need is a mustard-seed faith that turns to God for help. When you admit your lack, God releases His plenty. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I look at the circumstances. Yes, we are surrounded by challenges. Yes, Satan is on the prowl. Yes, scary stuff happens. Even in Hebrews 11, our heroes of faith suffered as they obeyed God’s call on their lives, but they overcame evil with good. Jesus tells us straight: we will face trouble, but when we keep our eyes on Him, we will overcome. (John 16:33)
I look at my past failure. How can the Lord use me when I have been so faithless? Look at my litany of royal blunders. When we meet Gideon, he does not resemble the “mighty warrior” he will become. If he continued to look at the past instead of acting on God’s call, he would have missed the miracle. Looking forward, we tune our ears to the cheers of the great cloud of witnesses and fix our eyes on Jesus who speaks into being that which does not yet exist. (Psalm 33)
Jesus desires to be the author and finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2), but you get to choose. Faith and fear fight for your attention. Doubt attacks confidence. We keep our eyes on Jesus, so when that phone call brings bad news, we hold fast by faith with confidence in God. Your life may be shaken, but you won’t be crushed when He is your cornerstone. God wants to write your story of faith, courage and perseverance as you experience His power released in your life.