Faith Under Pressure
I recently had an opportunity to experience something new and adventurous. It was also incredibly relevant to a life lived in faith. The more I learned throughout the day, the more the picture in my mind came together. It was so thought provoking to me I knew I would have to share it.
I spent the day with an incredibly inspiring person who had an astounding knowledge of horses. Up until this day I had at best; sat on a horse (I don't even remember if it moved). This person had a way with horses that was truly amazing to observe. There were so many seemingly insignificant details that had massive significance. There are at least twenty such seemingly minor details that come to mind that are tremendous. Even down to the way a horse looks at you!
Side note: Anyone else watch Mr.Ed growing up? (Nick-at-nite anyone? ;-)
Where am I going with this and what does this have to do with faith and pressure? Read on!
Now I don't want to do any injustices by trying to re-explain all the information I was taught in one day. And risk stating something incorrectly. But the underlying; yet most crucial element in training a horse is understanding how to add pressure - to teach the desired behavior. And when to release that pressure so the horse understands that by adapting to the desired behavior, there is reward. Once properly trained, a horse will then respond appropriately to various types of applied pressure. I could stop here and write a whole other blog on how this is proof enough that there HAS to be a God! The time, the work, and the effort put into training a horse - then seeing what the animal is capable of in the hands of a skilled person is nothing short of astonishing!
Throughout the entirety of the day around these animals I found myself a bit intimidated. Not so much in a fear sense, but more in a respect sense. They are five or six times the size of an average adult. They are brilliant and powerful (I mean we rate our car engines off of horse power). Even throughout the Bible horses have such a presence: symbolical, metaphorical, and literal. For the purpose of my writing, imagine a horse as your faith. The more I learn about faith, the more I realize that any measure of faith is powerful! That is why Jesus said if you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can speak to a mountain and tell it to move. So imagine with me if you will; faith as being powerful period! Size does not matter. In this illustration I am choosing a horse, more for what it represents than it's size. A horse is powerful! And your faith (whether you choose to see it as a mustard seed or the size of a horse) is powerful! Our powerful faith is trained - expanded; through pressure and the release of that pressure.
David gets a lot of street cred for throwing rocks at a giant (who had a massive head) and killing him. Ok, so he used a sling and it was still an epic event either way. But what about the times in David's life where he ran, and ran, and ran again. Hiding in caves with a few hundred men looking up to him for leadership. With the thought that he is supposed to be king of Israel in the back of his mind. What about that kind of faith? When you read the Psalms, it doesn't sound like David was living a very fantastic life. And he was God's chosen! What about the great prophet Elijah? He called down fire from Heaven, and then took off running when one woman said she wanted to kill him (the threat of a woman is a powerful thing lol). What kind of faith did he have when he laid his head on a rock and told God it would be better to be dead. When he was living out in the middle of no where surviving off the water from a brook and food that was drop shipped by ravens. What about Moses who had spent forty years herding sheep, probably under the assumption that was going to be the extent of his life. Joseph sold into slavery for thirteen years. Daniel thrown into the den of hungry lions. What does faith look like under pressure? It's a scary thing to be certain.
But faith is always powerful. Whether you have little or much. Faith is designed for the impossible (the stories mentioned above speak for themselves). Faith is so powerful that without it we cannot please God almighty! It is when our faith comes under pressure, that we are forged into Christ's likeness. And it is the release of that pressure that releases our new faith. Which creates something even more powerful in our lives than before it was refined. It creates a ripple effect in the world around us, stretching into the very realm of Heaven!
Another important component of powerful faith is understanding that faith is never rooted in certainty.
Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.
There is always the "blind" element of faith. Which is the trusting God part. But real faith is never really blind. I'll use another illustration from my day with horses. At one point (and apparently this comes up a lot with non-horse people) I noticed a horse that appeared to have a blind fold on. And of course in the abundance of my intelligence I asked if the horse was blind. And of course, it was not blind at all. It is a special mask that lets the horse see but keep flies out of their eyes (we don't have those in Florida for mosquitoes why?) Real faith is exactly like that. In it's appearance it seems blind to the natural senses. Because you are having to trust supernatural God. But when you know the God you trust, you have assurance for things hoped for. There is evidence of things not physically yet seen.
When your faith is tested (read James chapter 1) know that the pressure is not designed to destroy you. Anymore than a horse being trained under pressure. And know that there will come a time when the pressure is released. Just as it was with every great person written about in the Bible. In fact, if your faith is under pressure - it's a good thing! It means you are using it! And are pleasing God! Let your faith grow so big that you laugh at the impossible. When life comes to throw you in the fire, you smile and say "my God will deliver me!" When giants stand before you mocking you, you run full steam ahead declaring "this day the Lord will deliver you into my hands!" Let faith be the driving force of your life! And accomplish all He has purposed in you! Let faith carry you when the valley of death seeks to consume you. Let your faith prove the impossible! Let the world see His light in you, because the pressure tempered and refined you.