Faith is stepping into the unknown
Updated: Jul 4, 2018
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8)
I would like to draw your attention to two things: First of all, Abraham was “called to go out”; secondly, when he started his journey, he “didn’t know where he was going”. There comes a time in everyone’s life when God says “GET OUT!” (Gen. 12:1). “Get out of your father’s house. It’s time to leave the past behind and move on. And if you do, I’ll bless you and make you great. I’ll do more in your life than you could ever ask or think.”
Your ‘father’s house’ may be any number of things: a job or career path; a denominational or political affiliation; a long-held belief or attitude; a religious or cultural tradition; an established behavioural pattern. It may not necessarily be bad, but it most certainly is restrictive. And yet we cling to it because it is known. And what is known is predictable. And what is predictable is secure. For most people, security means knowing what is going to happen. In other words: no excitement, no risks, no surprises and no challenges. But the flip side to ‘security’ is no growth, and no growth means death.
Very few of us willingly embrace change - change is usually forced upon us. Very few of us like surprises - we may think we do, but I’m not talking about ‘birthday party’ surprises. I’m talking about the kind of surprise when you arrive for work on Monday morning and find that your desk (and your job) has gone. Or the kind of surprise when you walk out of the shopping mall and find that your car is no longer where you left it. Or the kind of surprise when you wake up in the morning and find that the Dow Jones Index has plunged over 500 points on fears of a European sovereign debt crisis or a double dip recession.
True security is stepping into the unknown, constantly embracing new opportunities, expanding on the right hand and on the left – that’s where growth and self-fulfilment lies. Ironically, the more you seek security, the less of it you have. But the more you seek opportunity, the more likely it is that you will achieve the security that you desire.
New wine in old wineskins
As convenient as it may be, you just can’t put new wine in old wineskins (Matt. 9:17). You can’t put a new initiative of God’s Spirit in an inflexible, tradition-bound, highly regulated environment. For this reason, Jesus, the King of Kings, was born in a humble shepherds’ cave near Bethlehem, far from the palatial grandeur of Herod’s Jerusalem (Luke 2:4-8). And for this reason, John the Baptist proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God in the wilderness of Judea, far from the ecclesiastical pomp and ceremony of the temple (Matt. 3:1-5). And for this reason, Paul moved out of the traditional venue of the synagogue into the house next door to preach the word of God with extraordinary demonstrations of Holy Spirit power (Acts 18:7-11; 1 Cor. 2:4).
The great ‘apostle of faith’, Smith Wigglesworth, made a statement way back in 1922 which modern day Pentecostals would do well to heed:
“For years and years God has been making me appear to hundreds and thousands of people as a fool. I remember the day when he saved me and when he called me out. If there is a thing God wants to do today, he wants to be as real to you and me as he was to Abraham.
After I was saved I joined myself up to a very lively lot of people who were full of a revival spirit, and it was marvellous how God blest. And there came a lukewarmness and indifference, and God said to me as clearly as anything, ‘Come out.’ I obeyed and came out. The people said, ‘We cannot understand you. We need you now and you are leaving us.’ The Plymouth brethren at that time were in a conference. The word of God was with them in power, the love of God was with them unveiled. Baptism by immersion was revealed to me, and when my friends saw me go into the water they said I was altogether wrong. But God called me and I obeyed. The day came when I saw that the brethren had dropped down to the letter, all letter, dry and barren.
“At that time the Salvation Army was filled with love, filled with power, filled with zeal; every place a revival, and I joined up with them. For about six years the glory of God was there, and then the Lord said again, ‘Come out,’ and I was glad I came. It dropped right into a social movement and God has no place for a social movement. We are saved by regeneration and the man who is going on with God has no time for social reforms.
“God moved on, and at that time there were many people who were receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost without signs. Those days were ‘days of heaven on earth.’ God unfolded the truth, showed the way of sanctification by the power of the blood of Christ, and I saw in that the great inflow of the life of God. I thank God for that, but God came along again and said, ‘Come out.’ I obeyed God and went with what they called the ‘tongues’ folks; they got the credit for having further light. I saw God advancing every movement I made, and I can see even in this Pentecostal work, except we see there is a real death, God will say to us, ‘Come out.’ Unless Pentecost wakes up to shake herself free from all worldly things and comes into a place of the divine-likeness with God, we will hear the voice of God, ‘Come out’ and he will have something far better than this. I ask every one of you, will you hear the voice of God and come out?”
Risk and reward
A wise man (probably not Confucius) once said, “Behold the tortoise; it never gets anywhere unless it sticks its neck out!” There is a very real relationship between risk and reward. The future belongs to the risk takers, not the security seekers. As America struggled to rise from the morass of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear produces paralysis; it roots you to the spot and causes you to hold on to what you have and what you know. Freedom, true freedom, is letting go of what we call ‘security’ and instead, embracing what others call ‘opportunity’.
Just imagine if Christopher Columbus had accepted the teaching of the church that the world was flat, and that those who sailed to the edge would fall into the abyss. If Columbus had accepted the status quo of his generation, I would not be typing on this computer and you would not be reading this email. His willingness to take a risk and step into the unknown led to the discovery of a ‘new world’. And that new world became the birthplace of many of the revolutionary advances in science and technology that we now take for granted.
Listen to the words of the apostle Paul as he describes his journey from the secure and predictable world of Judaism to the risky and uncharted world of Christianity: “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).
Whenever you feel fear or anxiety and you need to bolster your courage to persist in the face of obstacles and setbacks, switch your attention to your goals. Create a clear mental picture of the person that you would like to be, performing the way you would like to perform, and achieving what you would like to achieve. Through the development of indomitable courage and unswerving determination, a whole new world of possibilities will open up to you.
What would you dare to attempt if you knew you could not fail?