Over the past few years, I have been on a journey with the Lord of being pulled deeper into the things of the Holy Spirit. It has come with moments of overwhelming thanksgiving and amazement of His work in my life and other times of extreme weightiness as I experience the tangible realness and fear of our living God. There has been a temptation as I experience more of the Lord to want guarantees. A guarantee that my prayer is going to be effective. A guarantee that God will show up. A guarantee that I won’t have to face rejection or pain. I have come to realize however, that I am wanting the Lord to take away the one thing that is required in pleasing Him: faith. (see Hebrews 11:6) The fact that faith is a necessity in pleasing God gives me two options. I can choose not to step out in faith and not please God or I can step out in faith and please God. There is no middle ground.
As I have dove into the need for greater faith in my life, I have been struck by the immense power endowed to those who walk in faith and the immense cost that is required. When Hebrews 11 comes to mind, most believers think of the glorious results of faith that were experienced by Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, and Moses. It’s a hall of fame many believers desire to be counted among. These are those who ‘through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.’ (verses 33-35)
However, I am concerned that in the church today we have been quick to turn a blind eye to the other inevitable side of faith which the writer of Hebrews spells out in verses 35-38, “‘Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy – wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.’
Jesus perfectly demonstrated what it looks like to walk in faith. He raised Jairus’s daughter and Lazarus back to life (Mark 5:21-43, John 11:38-44) but also found Himself wandering in the desert with wild animals (Mark 1:12-13.) Jesus was made strong out of weakness when after forty days of fasting, He was filled with the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14), however He was also well acquainted with being mocked, flogged, and publicly humiliated before His crucifixion (Matthew 27:27-31.) Not only is Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), He also willingly modeled what it looks like to walk in the power of faith while counting and accepting the cost.
I believe that there are many believers who have been given the gift of faith by the Holy Spirit yet when difficulties and trials come as a result of actively using their gift of faith, they shrink back. They decide that maybe they weren’t within the Lord’s will when they stepped out in faith because of the hardship that came their way. Hebrews 10:39 makes it clear however that to shrink back will lead to destruction. “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
There is a shift that must come to the church of what true faith is and what it requires. Yes, it can produce amazing results as it allows the Lord to work through us in powerful ways, however it also has many results that are undesirable to our flesh. Do we truly know what we are signing up for when we ask for the gift of faith? In this hour I believe the Holy Spirit is looking for those who not only want to conquer kingdoms but are willing to suffer mocking. He is looking for those who will enforce justice even if it sends them wandering about in the desert. Unless we embrace a truly biblical perspective of faith, we will find ourselves being vulnerable to settling for a watered-down version of faith that only equates faith with positive results. The Father is seeking those who are willing to say yes to not just the power of faith but also to the cost of faith.