We know from the well-known “faith chapter” of Hebrews 11 that faith defined is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see (v. 1). For me, this definition of faith is more understandable:
Faith is taking the first step even when you cannot see the whole staircase.
That is a visual I understand! Another good faith definition is faith is seeing light with your heart when all you see is darkness.
Those quotes, including the straight scripture one out of Hebrews 11:1, make my beating heart leap. The same beating heart who decided years ago to not just live my life but push into the challenges—even if it required wrestling with God—because I felt deep down that there had to be something more. Have you ever felt that? John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came to give us life and life to the full. This life to the full requires a lot of faith along the way. I have had to make decisions where I didn’t see the whole staircase but this “thing” inside me pushed me up that staircase because there has got to be something more.
Now that I’m over 50 I can tell you that there is a lot of something more. I’ve been living a good story with few regrets.
This thing inside me is bravery. I’m only now just putting words on it. I’ve never been one to say I have lived a great life of faith. That sounds so clean and strong. I feel more dirty and bruised and alive. I think when it came to making decisions of facing trials or persevering through pain I chose to let this bravery rise up out of my soul. I guess that could be called faith but it feels less ethereal than that. This was something that was gutty. It came out of me.
See how faith and bravery cannot be separated?
Let’s go back to that great “faith chapter” again. After verse 3 there is this list of people who lived lives of faith. Notice the bravery each one had to choose. I’m going to start at verse 7 and skip around a bit.
v. 7 – “It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before.” Noah had to make that brave decision to build, continue to build and eventually get into that boat.
v. 8 – “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.” Abraham had to make that brave decision to leave what was known for the possibility of what was promised. That takes bravery because don’t you sometimes doubt God’s promises?
v. 23 – “It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.” It was their decision to be brave that led them to hide a child—a crying child—and to think this plan would work. It might have been a desperate decision which helps when you need to summon up bravery.
vv. 24-25 – “It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.” Moses could have stayed in the comfort of the known, he was doing very well for himself in that known world. Yet a decision of bravery to leave that comfort made him the great leader whom we still talk about.
v. 29 – “It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground.” This took bravery! How could a person who chose fear walk through on dry ground while there were walls of water on each side? It is easier to take those brave steps if everyone is doing it but still. Someone had to start this trend.
v. 31 – “It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” Poor Rahab. She is always known as Rahab the prostitute. I’m sure many bad decisions—probably not her decisions—led to her becoming a prostitute. But she didn’t stay one. She stumbled into this opportunity with the spies from Israel, decided to choose bravery, and was spared destruction, got to change her life, and is now part of the genealogy of Jesus. Not bad for a prostitute—or former prostitute who chose bravery to change her situation.
vv. 32-34 – “How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.” I will add that they chose bravery as they stepped into each of these stories—or did their choice of bravery make the stories?
Do you see how hard It is to separate faith from bravery? We are called to live lives of faith—having the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen. Of course, it helps having God’s word as a foundation to balance that faith on. God’s word gives us practical parameters of what true faith is. As we are living these lives of faith—day-to-day living—we need to make these brave decisions to take that first step on a staircase we can’t see the end of. This is that “thing” in our souls that says “Go because there is something more.”
Do you have that “thing?”