“Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith … ” (Heb. 12:2, MEV).
Faith in its finished form results in the power and provision of God manifested in the circumstances of Earth. The perfecting and finishing of our faith is accomplished through difficulties and challenges of life. As we face challenges, it trains us in the ways of faith, it trains us to keep our focus on the reality instead of the shadow and it circumcises all the flesh out of the vision God has given us. Like muscles in the physical body, faith grows by resistance training — by being forced to do heavy lifting.
“My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith develops patience. But let patience perfect its work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
Difficulty becomes blessing. Trials become joy.
Circumcising the Vision
When God impregnates you with promise and causes vision to grow in you, that vision is designed and tailored to fit you and only you. It fits you exactly. When God describes His will, He uses three words: good, pleasing and perfect (Rom. 12:2). The word “perfect” means “a perfect fit.” His will for you is beneficial to you (good); it will bring you pleasure and will please you (pleasing); and it will fit you to down to the last detail (perfect). You love the vision. You’re supposed to.
As the vision develops, the time comes when you are forced to recognize that although the vision is God’s, it has some of your flesh wrapped around it. When I say “flesh,” I am talking about those parts of your life that are still fueled by your human nature. Your flesh wants to own and control and possess and manage and manipulate. God is always working in you to free you of your flesh and move you more and more into the power of the Spirit. To that end, He arranges crisis moments at which you are brought face-to-face with your flesh and the claim it is trying to have on God’s vision. Those times are painful, but they are the most productive times of all.
When your flesh is brought to its crucifixion, it is bloody and messy and our tendency is to resist. But crucifixion has but one end: resurrection. This has always been God’s pattern and continues to be so today. Crucifixion. Resurrection.
In Hebrews 11, God spotlights and highlights lives that have put faith on display. In each, the crucifixion-resurrection principle is evident. Look with me at an example.
The writer of Hebrews spotlighted Moses’ parents as prime examples of how faith works. The vision that God put into Moses began as a vision in the minds of his parents, who saw that he was no ordinary child. God caused them to see His promise and it jumped up and took such possession of them that a bold and reckless faith was born, freeing them from fear of the pharaoh. They didn’t know all its ramifications, but their vision was that he would live and not die at the pharaoh’s hands. That may be as far as they could see, but it was far enough.
God had to have provided supernatural protection for the baby Moses. He gave wisdom and ideas to Moses’ parents. Why did they even think that a little ark of bulrushes might protect Moses’ life? How did the idea even occur to them?
Three months they loved him and nurtured him and memorized his darling face and recorded in their hearts his dear sighs and gurgles and cries. With each passing day, love grew.
When the day came to let him go, imagine his mother’s walk from her home to the Nile’s edge. Three-month-old son entombed in a basket.
Surely only her selfless love for her son could induce her to walk her Via De La Rosa. Had she given one thought to her own desires, she would have turned back. She was going to place him into the Nile in the days when the Nile ran red with the blood of Hebrew sons. She was letting him go into the river that his enemy had declared to be his burial place. Imagine as she stood in the Nile’s waters and came to that moment when she had to do the hardest thing she would ever be called upon to do. She had to let him go. She had to die to her mother’s instincts to guard and protect. To save his life, she had to let him go.
When she did, her son was put upon the course he had been ordained to travel. The very river that might have been his end was instead his beginning. Jochebed received him back again, but everything had changed. When she put him into the Nile he was a slave. When she received him back from the Nile, he was a prince.
The secret was in the letting go.
Jennifer Kennedy Dean is an author, speaker, conference leader and executive director of the Praying Life Foundation. You may visit her online at www.prayinglife.org.