Faith is Not a Wish
Updated: Jan 6, 2021
I remember as a child reading Where the Red Fern Grows, wondering how faith worked. The main character, Billy Colman wanted a pair of Redbone Coonhounds for hunting. He prayed every night God would send him his wish. He was confused why God didn’t answer his prayer, until someone suggested he meet God halfway. This was a new concept to the young man. What did ‘to meet’ God halfway mean? According to the book, it meant getting a job. He was to work, earn the money, and God would provide the strength and opportunities to accomplish his request.
I have written on Faith (Faith is Not Blind) in the past. We discovered Faith and trust are synonymous. Someone who is ‘Faithful’ is ‘Trustworthy’. If you haven’t read it, you should, it will be helpful as we move through this article.
Billy Colman showed faith in action. He was faithful in his activity. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much (Luke 16:10).” Similar to young Billy, Faith can be confused with a wish. The fulfillment of that wish can also be confused with the amount of Faith an individual has. An example would be someone who believes they will be a millionaire; they claim it but continue as they had before. There’s no change in their plans, behaviors, or education. They believe, if they have enough Faith, it will just magically happen. When it doesn’t, others will say they didn’t have enough Faith.
The above Scripture is cited from the parable Jesus presents about the shrewd manager. The manager has been notified he will be fired based on his unethical business dealings. He has been embezzling from his master. Before his last day, he uses his position to give discounts to other business leaders who owe his master money in hopes they will give him a job later. Jesus compares the unrighteous, using wealth to leverage friendships, to the righteous who do not do this well. Wealth is a tool, even those who worship and trust in money can leverage it better than the righteous (children of light). They are shrewder (clever) in using this tool. The unrighteous are desperate to keep all they can but recognize its ability to bring more when leveraged correctly.
In other words, the unrighteous understand how wealth works (their god) better than the righteous understand how a relationship with God works.
You may have to read that last sentence a couple times. It doesn’t sound correct at first glance.
Faith is not a blind wish. It’s also not a ‘Hail Mary’ in the las few seconds of the game. A friend commented on my article on ‘Faith is Not Blind’ with this verse: “for you are saved by grace, through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift (Ephesians 2:8).” This indicates our faithfulness (trustworthiness), in choosing to live by God’s wisdom rather than our own, allows God to save us. Choosing God’s wisdom, living according to the ‘Sermon on the Mount’s’ teaching, is choosing life (Matthew 5-7).
Now, that’s not as easy as it seems. Choosing to honor someone when they wrong you, is not easy. Choosing not to take vengeance is not easy. When someone strikes you on the cheek, it’s not easy to offer them the other cheek to strike as well. Our initial reaction is humiliation, in the moment. However, Faith is trusting God has a bigger plan than the humiliation of the moment. You are part of something grander than that dishonored moment.
This is so important in Faith. Abram was told he would have a son. The boy’s name was Isaac, meaning laughter because Sarai was too old to have a son. She laughed at the impossible idea. They both did. It didn’t make any sense. They tried to make it work outside of God’s wisdom and destroyed the life of their servant and her son (Genesis 16). God told Abram to stay in the land, he went to Egypt during a famine. He didn’t trust in God’s wisdom, but his own wisdom, he went to Egypt where Sarai was taken to be the wife of Pharaoh. Because Abram lied about her being his sister. Again, in his wisdom he thought it would make them safer. God cursed Egypt with plagues because of the theft of Abram’s wife.
Eve thought the fruit in the garden looked good for eating, her wisdom told her it would be good. Cain decided it would be good to kill his brother Able to eliminate the competition. When people count on their own wisdom it causes calamity and pain. Perhaps a little white lie will fix a situation, but we all have experienced the corruption and disaster that follows those moments of foolish thinking. Faith is trusting God’s teaching on life is the best way. God’s wisdom must be trusted to succeed in life. God asked for Isaac as a sacrifice and Abraham obeyed. Of course, it didn’t make sense to him, but neither did the other things God had asked of him. He had made folly according to his own wisdom over and over again. This time, and I am so thankful, he listened to God’s wisdom. He proved his faith (trust) in God’s wisdom over his own and the world was rewarded through the sacrifice God provided. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27).”
“Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile (1 Corinthians 3:18-29).”
The term “Doing what’s right” comes from following God’s wisdom; his good, life giving wisdom. No, it doesn’t always make sense to us, but it’s good. How could David prevail against an armored giant with a sling and five stones? How could a people with instruments marching around a walled city seven days prevail against it (Joshua 6)? It’s impossible, but all things are possible with God. “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).”
Faith is trust in God. It’s a grounded trust that God keeps His promises. He makes all things possible. This Sunday I will preach on unity. Unity is possible with Faith (trust). We just have to act Faithfully in God’s wisdom.
We must meet God halfway.