Genesis 12:1 | Step out in Faith

A famous concept and statement is “Step out in faith”. It means that one will take a physical action based on an in immaterial belief and this statement is applied to all kinds of life situations. Stepping out of an airplane with a parachute would be a moment of faith for me. I know intellectually how the parachute works but that moment of stepping out of the perfectly good airplane into a free fall requires some kind of faith that I don’t have. Taking a new job requires a step of faith especially if one quits a perfectly good paying job to try something new. The first time I moved to a new job my anxiety went up because all I had was a letter proposing a start date with the new company and on faith I was writing a letter of resignation for my current job. What if this letter for the new job is not real? What if they back out and I am left with no job at all? I was stepping out in faith and the reality made me nervous. Steps of faith are moment of life defining challenges. They are not quickly forgotten and taking that step of faith requires something more than passive observation. A physical action based on an intangible belief. The Bible contains many of these examples and they have been inspirational and challenging to me.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. Genesis 12:1 ESV

In the beginning of the world before the establishment of strong central governments God asks Abraham to leave the security of his family’s home and his kinsman’s protection to travel to a location not yet revealed. God asked Abraham to take a step of faith.

6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Galatians 3:6 ESV

God loved Abraham not because he was a “good” person or because he followed the law (the ten commandments will not be written for at least 400 more years), God loved Abraham because Abraham trusted God and he demonstrated that trust by stepping out in faith.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8 ESV

There are many biblical examples of stepping out in faith. This faith did not require that one clean their life up first or that they have everything worked out. Many times, the stepping out in faith is messy and stressful and there is nothing messier than Peter stepping out of the boat in faith.

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31 ESV

Bold Peter is the only Disciple who even attempted to get out of the boat in the storm and how many times has the reader heard God asking something that is impossible and scary? Peter got out of the boat and “walked on water” which is more than anyone else in history can say. Taking that first step of faith may not be the hardest part for some but then when the reality and the harshness of the situation comes flooding in it may be even more difficult to stay the course. When Abraham left home one wonders if he missed those comforts? Did he encounter difficulties or hardships that might have made him want to return? Peter was overcome by the realization that he did not step out of a boat on calm waters but in the middle of a storm and choppy waves. Jesus stepped in and asked him a question. What happened to your faith? Why did you doubt?

I have taken many steps of faith in my life and when the next step comes I will be able to look back and see that God, Jesus, has been faithful to take care of me in that transition between what was and what he has called me to be. Sometimes I doubt. Sometimes I go kicking and screaming. Sometimes I don’t take that step right away. But I know intellectually Christ is faithful and true. If I will take the step he will be there just like he was with Peter to “immediately reach out his hand” the moment I need him.

For some reading this God is calling you to take a first step with him. That first step of action is scary but it is a step in which God will be there and he will be pleased. He is calling you to be in relationship and that step will be credited to you as righteousness because he asked you to step out in faith for him.

20 No unbelief made [Abraham] waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:20-22 ESV

Isaiah 26:7 | Level Paths

path

I enjoy hiking on mountain trails in search of new views or waterfalls. Just being out to get exercise with family in tow is part of the most important activities of life. I pray my children will fondly look back on these times and will desire to explore God’s creation when they come into their own. After miles of up and down on technical terrain one of the most enjoyable places of a hike is a level area of soft ground covered in pine. Usually this calm level area might be near a winding stream with plenty of smooth rocks to hold and throw. This section of the trail is perfect for a break and a place of rest to enjoy on an otherwise difficult trail.

I find that hiking is a wonderful analogy to life. Both are a journey. Both are more difficult if we try to forge our own path. Both contain beauty. And both are unknown as to what the journey or the destination will reveal to our own eyes. Until I walk the path and arrive at the destination I don’t really know what will be experienced. Even if I have a map or a guide the journey is still unique to my experience. Life is this way also. On this journey of life, the Bible tells us that God has a path for each person and he has made available a light for that path through his Word the Bible.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 ESV

But he has done even more than provide a light and direction on the path. He can be active to a life that is surrendered to his direction.

The path of the righteous is level; you make level the way of the righteous. Isaiah 26:7 ESV

He makes “level” the way. God levels the path of the righteous and I think about those level soft sections of trail where the switch backs and difficulty are put on hold. Where one can walk comfortably and revel in the glory of the trees. This is the kind of path that God makes for the righteous.

Now this begs the question who are the righteous that God has given a lamp and a level path? Especially if an attempt at righteousness for many is a burden of work and journey of its own.

For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray. Proverbs 5:21-23 ESV

Am I righteous? Have I done enough good things or prepared enough for the trail ahead? God knows that I have not. God knows my thoughts. He knows my ways and they are not his ways. He has seen all my selfish thoughts. He has seen all my evil done in secret.

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. Romans 3:10-11 ESV

Never could I be found righteous before his perfect standards. So, God provided a solution so that his plans for me will be accomplished. God has made those who are called by his name righteous. Not by works or by effort but by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God knows we fall short of his perfect standards so he came to earth in the form of a man and lived a perfect life on our behalf. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. God lowered himself to be part of his creation. To save his creation.

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law … the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. Romans 3:20-22 ESV

Righteousness is given to all who put their trust and faith in Jesus. For those that accept what Jesus has done God is then free set them on a path that brings them home as his children. Dear reader now is the moment of grace to accept Christ and submit to his desire and plans for your life. God calls to you as a loving father calls his children home.

Does a level and lighted path mean that life becomes easy? Well no it does not. This life is full of consequences many of them our own doing. There is a promise that I hang on as I daily put my trust in God. Daily as I want to submit and honor him. That promise is that the righteousness given to me through Christ allows me to get back up every time I fall short of where I should be.

for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes. Proverbs 24:17 NIV

This proverb tells us the righteous will fall but get back up. But those that reject God will stumble in that day of judgement. But note that the righteous do not get back up on their own. It says that even if they fall seven times they rise. Seven is the number of God and stands for perfection. It is through God’s perfection, through Jesus Christ and the perfect life he lived that those who are called by his name will rise again and continue on the journey to find rest in God.