Recently, the church we attend here in Florida launched a new and renewed capital campaign. At first glance, this decision does not seem wise. From its beginnings as a “Once-a-Month Church” in a hotel meeting room seven years ago, the church has grown to almost 1,000 strong, and in these seven years has built one building, is in the process of building a second, and is planting a second campus in an area 20 miles south.
The church is active in missions and evangelism and Christian growth, not to mention compassion ministries such as Operation Christmas Child and Feed My Starving Children, and the local food pantries and soup kitchens. This local body of “senior saints” has a motto of “Gathered to Go” emblazoned in the hearts and minds of all who attend, and regularly sends teams of laborers to New Orleans, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Chad, and Cuba.
In talking with the Lead Pastor, he will tell you that he never expected this to come from an initial meeting with just one other couple in a local restaurant seven years ago. He readily admits that he is amazed and that his faith has been stretched in the years since.
Reviewing this one church’s history is not to boast or brag, but rather to simply point out that “The just shall live by faith.” That statement in the Scriptures, mentioned four times for emphasis, is a direct command of Scripture that seems to fly in the face of common sense.
And it is a bone of contention with many who claim to live by the Bible. They seem to cling to the words of Tevye, in “Fiddler on the Roof” when he says: “I know the Good Book says, ‘The Lord will provide.’ But who will provide UNTIL He provides?”
We cannot plan, they say. We cannot know what to expect! We cannot understand these things, if we don’t use our own common sense.
I mean, after all, didn’t Jesus tell a parable about counting the cost before starting to build a building?
My friend, even in Tevye’s “Good Book”, we read those incisive words which COMMAND us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5,6).
Now notice that God did not tell us NOT to USE our noggins! He just said don’t LEAN on our own understanding!
I am convinced there is a vast difference between USING our heads and being RULED BY our heads! It was not logical for Abraham to leave his home country, with all his possessions and belongings, with everything that was dear to him, and head for a destination “only-God-knows-where!”
For us today, that would be like us quitting our jobs, loading all our earthly possessions into a U-Haul, or some other rental truck, perhaps having a garage sale or two in the process of packing, and then heading out of town – oh, say, in the direction of the warmest weather – not knowing how long we would be gone, where we would end up, where would live once we did end up somewhere, and how we would live once we got there, and not even real sure that when we head south out of town we’re headed in the “right’ direction.
All of our understanding combined could not come up with a logical answer to the questions in Abraham’s mind as he headed out of town!
It was not logical for Noah to build an ark, or for Moses to lead the people through the Red Sea on dry land, or for David to take a stone in his sling shot and wind it up and throw it at the giant Goliath!
All of the great heroes of the faith have defied any attempt to lean on human understanding in grasping why they did what they did. And yet God honored them for their faith! And God wants to honor you and me for our faith as well!
In many cases it is easy for us to demonstrate faith, at least in certain aspects of our lives.
We live by faith when we get into the car and turn on the key. We trust that the engine will start and the transmission will work as we put the car into gear. We trust that the wheels will move as we put our foot on the accelerator. We turn the steering wheel, and we have faith that the front end of the car will go in the direction we turn the wheel – and that the rear end will follow!
And perhaps, most of all, we trust that the wheels will stop moving when we put our foot on the brake pedal!
That, my friends, is living by faith – faith in the car manufacturer, faith in the fuel mixture, faith in the mechanic who last serviced the vehicle – that all parts are well-oiled and working properly.
That same kind of faith is the kind of faith that God commands us to demonstrate in EVERY aspect of our lives – whether it be in our marriages, our relationships at school, church, or work, or in any endeavor we are attempting to accomplish. God calls us to walk by faith, not by sight!
Yes, He wants us to count the cost – but He wants us to trust Him to provide as we do!
USE your common sense as you live this week, but don’t LEAN on it!
Instead, simply commit your way to the Lord and He will do it!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.