At Calvary we are making our way through a teaching series called, “Undaunted Faith.” It’s all about developing a faith that will stand strong in the face of disappointment, difficulty and danger. (Click here to listen.) The Old Testament book of Numbers, chapters 13-14, contains a story about daunted faith.
God has led the people of Israel out of Egypt — think plagues, Red Sea parting, manna from heaven, pillar of fire, all that stuff — and now they stand at boundary of the land promised to them for a home, the Promised Land. Moses sends 12 men to spy out the land. They come back with a good news – bad news report. “The good news is that the land is amazing. The bad news is that there are giants in the land. We will never defeat them. If we go in there the land will devour us!”
It makes Egypt look like Motel 6, but there are giants in the land. There’s no way we can do it. Did you ever experience that? Someone paints a vision of God’s future for you and it captures your heart. It inspires you, but the moment you step forward it gets difficult…maybe it gets so hard that you think you heard God wrong.
Your faith becomes daunted. Did you know that it wasn’t Moses’ idea to send the spies into the land? It was God’s idea. God wanted them to see the bounty and the difficulty. He wanted them to see the blessings and the danger. Do you know what? I believe God wanted them to experience a bit of uncertainty. He could have made it easy for them. He could have made victory certain and clear, but He leaves it uncertain.
He gives us a vision for the amazing force for good that would be unleashed on the world if Penn State was transformed by the power of God and then we are confronted by the giants. He gives you a heart for your neighborhood and you knock on the door to find someone who hates you or has been hurt by your church. He gives you a passion to be a person of integrity in the workplace and the next thing you know a boss is asking you to lie or lose your job.
And we get this huge sense of uncertainty. Can I do this? Is God with me? What’s going to happen to me if I do what God wants me to do? There are giants in the land.
For almost two years, I’ve felt that Calvary, not just me, but we were moving into a new chapter. Chapter One together was all about love. God called us to grow in our love for each Him, for each other, and for the world. That’s the very heart of a church without walls. Our second chapter together was all about hope. Hope is not just wishing, it’s waiting. Hope is born in our hearts when someone we trust tells us that something better than anything we’ve ever imagined is on the way. Hope is all about perseverance. I could give you story after story of the periods of patient perseverance that God has brought us through in the last 10 years.
In the next chapter I think He wants to grow us deeper in our faith. He wants to show us there are no walls that can be put around what he can do through us if we will trust Him. So what does God do when he wants to grow our faith? He plants us in a season of uncertainty. This is the new lesson he’s been teaching me. The chaos of uncertainty is the soil of faith.
Last year Lynn and I felt God leading us to candidate at another church which led to a season of great uncertainty for us and Calvary. Add to that a great deal of staff shuffling recently and the sense that God still has another chapter in my life, but not really having clarity on what it looks like. Add to that all the events of the last 18 months at Penn State combined with many personal uncertainties and we have been going through a season of uncertainty.
But uncertainty is the soil for growing faith. It’s like when someone says, “Never pray for patience because when you pray for patience God sends someone to annoy you!” (Don’t you love being the answer to those prayers. :) In the same way, “Never pray for more faith if you aren’t willing to go through a season of uncertainty.
God uses uncertainty to make us answer the question, “Can I trust God in the face of difficulty, danger or disappointment? Or perhaps the even more important question is “Will I?” Will I trust God in the face of difficulty, danger or disappointment? “Can I” keeps it theoretical? “Will I” brings it into the reality of the moment. Will I? Will you?
God grow our faith.