In previous articles concerning our walk, we looked into love being the desire to move and glory providing the direction or path upon which we travel. Now we look at actual movement along that chosen path and the resources to sustain that movement. After all, love does not serve its purpose as misdirected or extinguished desire/energy, to be significant, love must be expressed.
How does faith move us forward?
It is evident from scripture and from experience that the speed at which we move towards our goals and the actual resources / ability to accomplish these goals are both anchored in faith. Faith determines whether we move forward or backwards along our paths established by glory; faith is ultimately a measure of loves attributes, its strength, speed, and quantity.
Again we will ask the basic questions.
What is Faith?
If there were a scriptural definition for faith, it would arguably be Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, though they are other places that adequately speak to faith, I was taught utilizing this one and I would like to share that with you.
When first studying this verse, I was stunned to see that faith wasn’t necessarily presented as positive. That may seem like a strange thing to say but is hope positive or negative? Is it possible to hope for good outcomes only? Or is it possible also to hope for negative outcomes? The Greek word used in this passage for hope is elpizó (strong 1679), which is translated hope or expect.
What if “expect” is used instead of hope, does it become clearer? Would we agree that it is possible to expect good or bad outcomes? If this is acceptable, then is faith, which is the substance of things hoped for (expected), positive or negative?
With that said I still have issues associating the word hope with being seen in a negative light, so for the purpose of this discussion lets consider hope to be positive faith, while understanding that the essence of the verse speaks to expectation.
On this basis, we asserted that faith moves us both forward or backwards; based simply on what we have faith in. To complete this thought, both positive faith (lets stick with hope) and negative faith (fear) are types of faith. This concept took some getting use to and uprooted many concepts that I at the time stood upon, the main one being that I squarely opposed faith with fear, now I know to oppose fear with hope and that negative faith is really fear.
Substance and Evidence
When further dissecting this verse, we see that essentially they are two supporting views of faith; faith is:
- the substance of things hoped for
- the evidence of things not seen
Now that we know that hope really speaks to expectation, I ask us to consider what the substance of things expected and the evidence of something not seen are.
To answer these questions I want to tell the story that shed light on the richness of this verse to me. When I was asking the Lord to teach me to pray, He first instructed me on faith and that is what brought this verse into sharp focus. I must tell you that the sources He used to expose me to pray and faith were not what might have been expected, but I learning to be completely open to His leading without judgment, so with that disclaimer out of the way this is what I was exposed to.
I heard a story of a Native American Indian who prayed not for rain but rather prayed rain. This occurred during a very severe drought that ended ‘allegedly’ the day after his prayer. His description of what he did is what very accurately describes what the Apostle Paul speaks of and it was this description that brought clarity to this verse.
He explained that when he prayed, he heard the sound of the rain on the roof of his home, and smelt the distinctive aroma of the wet mud of his hut that came after very heavy rains. He said he focused on feeling the feeling of his feet sinking into the wet mud outside his home, like he had experienced in the past. He also walked through the corn stalks, feeling the leaves and seeing the tall stalks above his head as was the case during a bountiful crop. When he had experienced all the many things that abundance of rain brings then he gave thanks for the rain which he had already experienced and ended his prayer.
The entire process took less than 5 minutes, the following day, as the story goes, torrential rains drenched the area resulting in flooding over the next few days.
What are your thoughts concerning this, is this practice consistent in anyway with your prayer life and is it even biblical? I want to suggest that while this isn’t at all something I had been taught in christian circles, that it fits quite well with this verse and also with what our Master Jesus Christ taught. In Mark 11:23-24, Jesus told His followers that if they believe that they already have what they pray for that it will be given. What was described above satisfies both these scriptures, it was evidence and substance of something not seen, experienced through the senses: sight, smell, hearing, feeling and by emotion. Finally it properly encompassed what Jesus said as the things desired were not only existing spiritually through thought and word but also with all the senses given to acknowledge the physical, to this end they were already held.
The above describes how faith works and goes deeper into what it is, but how does faith actually move us?
Everything we do in this life flows through this process we call faith, it is the process of moving ourselves and things from the unseen (spiritual) to the seen (manifested) realm where we physically exist; much of this movement across planes are done without us giving the process any thought and for many that’s a good thing. However, it is when we need to mentally be involved in this process of faith that hope (assurance in a positive outcome) and fear (assurance in a negative outcome) comes into sharp focus. Creation and moving forward is done as a result of hope and moving backward is done as a result of fear, but movement doesn’t only have direction, it also has other attributes such as speed, and force. We can move quickly or slowly, we can move weakly or with great strength.
This all can be explained through very simple examples, take the following.
Example 1 – Taking a seat
It is probably safe to say that none of us stand or sit or lay all day (I think I rhymed), but lets take something as common as sitting in a chair. When do you sit? Does the condition of the chair matter does it matter, if it is considered dirty or clean, if it is considered stable (strong or weak), comfortable or uncomfortable. Even in something as simple as this faith is required, hope that it will not cause you bodily harm, or discomfort more than circumstances would permit you to risk. So we move to sit (faith) in the knowledge (glory) that chair will fulfill the desire (love) to rest which we have. Even in this most simple of examples we can see desire, knowledge (attributes of the chair – glory of the chair) and movement (actual sitting) being expressed as love (desired rest or relief we want), glory and faith.
Example 2 – Crossing the road
Let’s say you want to cross the road, when do you move? I want to suggest that you only move when you know (filled with hope) that you will successfully make it to the other side, it doesn’t even mean that the road is clear or it isn’t treacherous it only means that you fully believe or hope to make it to the other side. So it is with faith, it doesn’t mean the absence of danger for those looking on, but it does means the surety of success from the perspective of the one expressing it.
Somethings we must work harder for than others, but fear is not one of them, in fact it seems to be the default for so many, even when it isn’t desired. Our body seems to know quite well how things work and a major function of the brain is to protect our body, a major part of this defense mechanism is based upon this negative faith we spoke about earlier, it would appear that even our most basic and intrinsic functions are also rooted in faith. When you experience something that potentially endangers you, physically or emotionally what typically happens next? Is your default fight, flight, to freeze or fawn? See link for description of these
As I was taught faith is always whole but it can exist in both hope and fear at the same time, we know this place well, we call it doubt. Scripture too speaks clearly of this and in James 1:6-7 this uncertainty and doubt is called doubled mindedness. If hope moves us forward toward the desire and fear moves us away from it, then where would doubt cause us to move to and how would it cause us to move there. I understand with fresh eyes what James also said in James 2:24, that persons are justified by works and not by faith (belief) alone, now this seems to fly squarely in the face of others scriptures, which state that we are justified not by our works but on the premise of faith. But context is key and it really is saying that we are justified by unwavering faith, and that unwavering faith always causes us to move, our movement is evidence of our belief.
Our faith in God measures how much we believe He loves us, our faith and trust in others measure how much we believe they love us, ultimately, we are not able to give what we don’t have and therefore the love we receive heavily impacts the love we can give, our faith determines the love we can give.
Again this topic is quite deep and also is one of the fundamental features of scripture and there is to be a separate series dedicated to faith and the other things God has shared concerning it.