The Ultimate Faith Test

by Andy Wood on June 10, 2009

in Five LV Laws, LV Cycle, Principle of Legacy, Waiting

trust-2It’s the ultimate test, and I’ve blown it.  Often.  Thank God He’s let me live to go one more round or two, maybe to get it right next time.

In a world awash with the expectation of push-button success and results, what do you do when you’ve done everything you know to do, and you still haven’t seen what you expect – what you long for and expect to see?

  • Sometimes you sacrifice your own dreams to help others fulfill theirs, but nobody returns the favor.
  • Sometimes people don’t look you up to say “thank you” for the wonderful encouragement you gave them.
  • Sometimes the people you trust betray it; people you love don’t love you back; the people you build your hopes on don’t satisfy those hopes.
  • Sometimes you get out of the boat only to wind up wet and cold, with the wrong kind of publicity.
  • Sometimes you do everything necessary to finish well, but the results you anticipated are still on the horizon.
  • Sometimes you’ll see mercy-drop miracles – down payments on the dreams to come. But the ultimate dream eludes you.

Was it all a waste?  Were you crazy to believe, stupid to try?  If so, you’re in some pretty intelligent company.  All those Friends in High Places?

Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised.  God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours (Hebrews 11:39-40, The Message).

There’s more to faith and life and legacies than results – especially results in your lifetime.  Sometimes what makes your legacy a legacy is that others harvest what you have planted.

Unfair?  It depends on how you keep score.

Truth be told, it depends on Who’s keeping score.  Abraham and Abel planted, and they will get their reward.  But in God’s economy and wisdom, he wanted you and me to share in it, too.  The same goes for those who may benefit from your life and influence.

The Reward is in the Believing

Sometimes the reward is in the believing itself.  It’s in the intimacy between you and God that can only come when your faith is put to the test and you pass or fail.  (Yes, there is intimacy with God, even in the wake of failure.)

For example, would you yield to and obey God, even when you’re the only one doing so?  Noah did.  There were no Ark Committees, no Ark Community.  Just Noah, the kook, who worked on that boat for 120 years.

Would you obey God when you had no clue where he’s taking you?  Abraham did.  All he had was his family, a whole bunch of livestock, and a promise from God.  No roots.  No security, like we’re used to defining it.  No home – just a tent.  No retirement plan – just the offer of an incredible journey.  For Abraham, every new encounter was a new adventure in believing.

Will you wait for God’s timing?   Abraham blew that one at first (which comforts me at times).  God had specifically said that Sarah would be the mother through whom a nation would emerge.  Unfortunately, Sarah and Abe started doing a little biological math, and came to their own conclusions.  But Abraham learned from the experience, and continued to believe that God’s timing, though seldom ours, is always perfect.

Would you believe God, even when his promise is a physical or medical impossibility?  Sarah did. It was crazy.  Crazy!  Even she laughed at the idea, after years of having resigned herself to an unfulfilled life.  But God knew what she didn’t – that He can bring life out of death, hope out of despair.  He delights in doing the impossible, and delights even more in those who believe him for it.

Would you trust God, even when it means giving up what you cherish more than anything else in life?  Abraham did.  And the Bible records in excruciating detail how this man methodically, faithfully obeyed God’s command to surrender the son he’d waited for all his life.

Would you trust God to the point that you’re willing to suffer in order to fulfill God’s purpose?  Moses did.  “He thought that it was better to suffer for the promised Christ than to own all the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking forward to the great reward that God would give him” (Hebrews 11:26, LB).  Imagine Moses, just before his death, peering at the Promised Land from a mountain, knowing his people would enter in, but he wouldn’t.  Was it worth it?

Would you endure, when the easiest thing to do is quit?  Moses did.  He endured family separation, identity crisis, social rejection, personal failure, hostile governments, life-threatening situations, and a less-than-merry band of three million crybabies.  He finally did make it to the Promised Land – appearing with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration.  What does that say to you about what God thinks of him?

Will you trust God, even when you’re about to be overwhelmed?  Remember what Moses said to the Israelis, when they were stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea?  “Stop being so fearful! Remain steady, and you will see how ADONAI is going to save you. He will do it today – today you have seen the Egyptians, but you will never see them again!” (Exodus 14:13, CJB).  I’ll have to admit, the loud words shooting from my mouth in overwhelming circumstances  probably haven’t sounded so courageous or believing.

What are you believing God for?  Healing?  For your husband to come back?  Financial provision?  A friend?  The salvation or spiritual return of your children?  Professional success or promotion?  Your business not to fail?  Read this carefully:  God always honors faith, but doesn’t always deliver the results we expect, or demand.

It’s the ultimate test, and I’ve blown it.  Often.  Will you continue to embrace your confidence in God, even when He didn’t deliver, per your instructions?

The supreme test of your legacy is not what you did to be a success.  It’s what – or Whom – you hold on to in the wake of your disappointment.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

tenaciousweed June 11, 2009 at 9:12 am

Andy,
Ugh. Thank you for writing this at a most perfect time. It hit so many chords, I thought about stepping out of the office to call you and say thank you in real time.

Maranatha!
Heather

tenaciousweeds last blog post..Crazy Aunt Della and Uncle Ray Who Couldn’t Hear

Pastah D June 11, 2009 at 10:34 am

If Heather thinks u rock, then I agree. You’re a very creative, intuitive, introspective and sharing soul.

Ty December 6, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Just came across this today, and I cannot tell you how much I could identify with EVERY point you are making. I become so frustrated while waiting on the Lord and feel like giving up or screaming at the very least. But, after reading this, I feel like continuing to hold on. And it’s so refreshing to discover that there are others who aren’t perfect in their faith walks, just as I am not.
Thank you for this!

Andy Wood December 6, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Ty,

I think that’s why Jesus used mustard seeds to compare to the faith that moves mountains. All it takes is a little – and nobody said it had to be perfect. I can certainly relate to the waiting and screaming part! Hang in there. You WILL see the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Ty December 7, 2010 at 2:44 pm

You’re welcome, Andy. And thanks for the encouragement!

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