Image via author, Moose Lake, Boundary Waters, MN.
True faith does not rely on “common sense.” Every time you venture out in your life of faith, you will encounter something that will seem foolish from a commonsense standpoint. But common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense. In fact, they are as different as the natural life and the spiritual life. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense disagrees? Can you venture out with courage on the words of Jesus Christ, while the realities of your commonsense life continue to shout, “Don’t do it”?
Philippians 4:19 tells us, “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” People love to quote this, but many do not ponder the depths of meaning found here. Our God promises to meet every need, not just the ones we are thinking about. We may think we need more money or less stress, or perhaps some kind of healing or relief. These may appeal to our senses, but they are more likely to short-circuit the development of true faith in us.
Often what we really need is greater trust and dependence, or perhaps greater discipline, or maybe more humility. Getting what we think we need will quite often interfere with the meeting of our real needs. Only our God truly knows our needs. We in our limited understanding usually do not know our true needs.
AW Tozer said this: “Faith is simply the bringing of our minds into accord with the truth. It is adjusting our expectations to the promises of God in complete assurance that the God of the whole earth cannot lie. As long as we question the wisdom of any of God’s ways our faith is still tentative and uncertain. While we are able to understand, we are not quite believing. Faith enters when there is no supporting evidence to corroborate God’s word of promise and we must put our confidence blindly in the character of the One who made the promise.”
Jeff was a hitchhiker I picked up one day outside of Fosston, MN one rainy morning. You can read more about this divine appointment here https://1pursuit.org/2019/05/28/hitchhiker-in-the-kingdom/ and here https://1pursuit.org/2019/05/31/hitchhiker-in-the-kingdom-2/. He was in mid-sixties and homeless by choice. He was thumbing to the place God revealed to him each day. Jeff told me that his relationship with His God has never been stronger or more vital to him than in the last seven years of homelessness and hitchhiking.
The best part, he said, is seeking God and God’s kingdom daily as he wanders his way along, and seeing God supply exactly what he needs without fail. Most would find no common sense in Jeff’s lifestyle, but Jeff found the joy and peace of living by faith alone.
We, like Peter, love to make our decisions by our common sense. When Peter was invited out of the boat and onto the water, he initially obeyed in faith and trust. Then, when he began to look at the situation not with faith and trust but with common sense, he “became rational” about what was happening, and he was sunk.
By contrast, Abraham quickly obeyed in going to the mountain with Isaac. He did not try to be rational about the matter, nor did he operate from common sense. As far as we know, he never questioned what His God told Him to do. The account tells us that after being told to do this, Abraham arose early the next morning to go to the mountain and complete the assigned task.
There was nothing about what was asked of him that could be rationalized so Abraham simply obeyed, believing that God had a solution to the problems his obedience would cause. Hebrews 11:17-19 “By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son,of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”
My friends, Frank and Eva Roberson, were two who in faith walked with God. The Robersons raised up a son, Don, who was one of my dad’s best friends. Don was the first missionary pilot killed in service with Missionary Aviation Fellowship. When Frank retired, he and Eva gave up their home and became itinerant, working at Christian conference centers and helping people in any way they could. After Eva died, Frank took up traveling seasonally to grow food and offer help to missionaries in Honduras and Alaska. As long as Frank lived, he was never wanting for anything necessary for godly living.
The Roberson family, like Abraham and Jeff, reminds me of what Chuck Swindoll said: “We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.”
Peter got out of the boat. Jeff became homeless on purpose as did Frank and Eva. Abraham got up early the next day to go to the mountain. They all saw the glory of their God in their lives. These remind us of the hymn, “Trust and Obey:” “But we never can prove the delights of his love until all on the altar we lay; for the favor he shows, for the joy he bestows, are for them who will trust and obey.”
If we would see the glory of our God lived in and through us, we must give up not only our common sense approach to making life decisions. We must give up all control and management in our humanness and lay everything on the line, or as the song says, on the altar. Laying all on the altar is the only way we can know God’s life, His love, and His power. It is the only way to live by faith. He calls each one of us to live in such a way that we regularly lay our all on the altar. Trust, surrender and obedience must come first if we are to see our God work in our lives. A stronger and stronger faith will follow, and we will regularly see the glory of God.