Take the Next Step
How would you define faith? Many people think of it as a belief—something they are confident is true. But did you know that for a Christian, faith is also a pathway? At the moment of salvation, a believer takes his first step and, from that point onward, walks in a relationship with Jesus. This journey is the most thrilling experience in life because we’re learning to know our Savior intimately and accomplishing what He’s called us to do.
Any journey is easier if you know someone who’s traveled that way previously. Thankfully, we have the Scriptures, which are filled with wonderful examples of people who have navigated the same road we walk today. Abraham was a man who experienced both confidence and confusion as he walked with God through success and failure, certainty and doubt, mountaintop highs and valleys of despair. As we examine his pathway of faith, six words will help us understand what to expect as we follow in his footsteps.
Purpose. First, we must realize that God never does anything haphazardly. His purposes have been firmly established and carried out since creation (Isa. 46:9-10). And He has plans for your life, too, but the only way you’ll discover His purpose is to walk the path of faith with Him. Even though you may not understand all the turns and twists along the way, you can find assurance in the trustworthy character and unlimited power of the One who’s leading you.
When Abraham first heard from the Lord, he had no idea that his story would be recorded for future generations to read. And because he was faithful to take that first step, the nation of Israel was established, and the Savior of the world was born.
Have you ever considered what God could do in your life if you walk obediently with Him? The Lord doesn’t always tell us precisely what He’s doing; He simply says, “Follow Me.” Then as we take a step on the path of faith, He gives us further direction. If we think we’ve got to have all the details up front, we’ll miss the excitement of walking with God and forfeit many of the blessings He wanted to give us.
Perplexity. When the Lord told him, “Go forth from your country . . . to the land which I will show you” (Gen. 12:1-3), Abraham had no idea where his journey might end or what the long-term results would be. His mind must have been flooded with questions.
Likewise, our walk with God can be difficult to understand. Sometimes He asks us to go places that seem unreasonable or do things that make no sense. But we are called to walk by faith—not by sight, feelings, or human reasoning. That’s why we can’t make decisions based strictly upon what seems logical to us. The right choice comes only when we consider what’s reasonable to God. His thoughts and ways are much higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-9). He sees the beginning and end of our lives, as well as everything in between.
The only way we will gain a better understanding of the Lord is by prayerfully searching His Word. As we consider what He desires for us and how He operated in the lives of men and women in Scripture, we’ll begin to see the perplexing events of our lives from His perspective. Someday all our questions will be answered, and everything will make perfect sense.
We must remember that God has perfectly planned our route according to His timetable.
We’ll see how He was working out His good purpose through every situation— even the painful ones. We don’t always have to comprehend what He’s doing; we just have to obey and leave all the consequences to Him.
Patience. We live in a fast-paced culture, but God is never in a hurry. On the pathway of faith, there are two signs— Slow Down and Wait Here—and I don’t like either one of them. If you’re like me, you just want to keep moving and get on with whatever the Lord has called you to do. Sometimes we have the strange idea that if He tells us to take two steps forward, five would be better. But we must remember that God has perfectly planned our route according to His timetable. If He says to wait, you can be sure that He is working to bring about the best possible outcome—one that will testify to His faithfulness and bring Him glory. In Abraham’s life, we see both the blessings of waiting on the Lord and the consequences of jumping ahead of His plan. When God told him to leave his country, Abraham obediently left Haran and settled in the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:4-8). He even built an altar to worship the Lord. However, when a famine came, Abraham chose not to trust God or wait for His provision. Instead, he packed up his family and headed to Egypt (v. 10).
Protection. Although walking by faith may seem risky, God’s pathway is actually the safest place to be, because He always protects those who travel with Him. When God called Abraham, He promised: “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse” (v. 3). This same principle of divine protection is seen throughout the Scriptures. Although God doesn’t always deliver us out of hardships, He does help us go through trials. In fact, He uses these experiences to deepen our relationship with Him.
The Lord even intervenes on our behalf when we’re in trouble because of our own unwise choices. Our God is so gracious. When we stumble in our faith, He doesn’t abandon us. He understands our weaknesses and knows when our hearts are bent toward Him.
Does this mean we won’t have to suffer the consequences of our wrong choices? Not at all. God’s principle of sowing and reaping still applies (Gal. 6:7). Look at the incident with Sarah and Hagar. The birth of Ishmael resulted in stress and conflict in Abraham’s family. However, although Sarah’s foolish attempt to obtain a son complicated the Lord’s plan, it never thwarted His purposes. The promised son Isaac still arrived according to God’s schedule (Gen. 21:1-2).
Pendulum. As you walk with the Lord, there will be times when you feel your Christian life swings like a pendulum between faith and doubt: you know what God’s Word says, but the circumstances and your feelings tell you something totally different. Abraham certainly struggled to believe God at times. His faith was strong as he began his journey, but when difficulties threatened or the Lord seemed slow in fulfilling His promises, doubts overtook his faith.
Yet by the time Abraham faced the biggest test of his life, his faith had grown so strong that he willingly obeyed God’s command to offer Isaac on the altar (22:1-18). Because he believed the Lord could do the impossible, he passed the test of faith, and God rescued Isaac. The key to stabilizing our faith is to follow Abraham’s example by bringing our natural feelings of anxiety, fear, doubt, or confusion into submission to what we know to be true: The Lord is faithful, always keeps His promises, and will see us through every situation.
Peace. Because Abraham had learned to trust God through all the events of his life, he experienced the amazing peace of having a relationship with the Lord. And isn’t that what we all want? Friend, there is no peace apart from the walk of faith. It’s not a matter of having everything we desire, but of developing an attitude of trust and a determination to obey, knowing that God always leads us the right way.
When it comes to faith, we have advantages that weren’t available to Abraham. First is Scripture, which reveals God’s perspective on faith and allows us to learn from the successes and failures of our predecessors. Second, the incarnation of God’s Son occurred 2,000 years after Abraham; the patriarch not only lacked all that the New Testament reveals about Jesus Christ, but he also didn’t have the indwelling Holy Spirit, as believers today do.
Abraham demonstrated faith based on the revelation he had been given (Heb. 11:10-19). By doing likewise each day, we will experience the peace that passes understanding and the thrill of following Christ, step by step, in the power of the Spirit.
The article was selected from In Touch magazine.