Someone once asked the question, why do we close our eyes when we pray, cry, kiss, dream? Perhaps it is because the most beautiful things in life are not seen but felt with our hearts. When we want to surprise someone, we tell them close your eyes and hold out your hands. Or we ask them to close their eyes, tell them don't peek and we lead them to what we want to surprise them with. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” So, what might it mean to walk only by faith?
It means to keep moving forward even if we are not quite sure where we are going. That is kind of like most of 2020! Martin Luther King Jr. Said, ”Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” We always have a choice. We can stay where we are, perhaps mired in our struggles or challenges, or we can move forward not knowing what comes next. God has not always taken His people on a direct route as they journey. The Israelites ended up wandering in the wilderness for 40 years instead of taking the direct route to the promised land. They didn't go alone. God was with them in pillars of cloud and fire. We do not go alone either. Like the Israelites we are called to keep our focus on God. Peter learned the hard way about taking ones focus off the Lord. He was walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee...walking on the water...headed towards Jesus. But a wave came his way, and he was overcome with the prospect of the wave and he looked away from Jesus. And he started to sink. He lost sight of the Lord. How many times have we found ourselves in that exact same place?
We have also heard people say, there is more than meets the eye. In other words, behind what may be a carefully crafted veneer, there may be pain, anguish, rage, insecurity. People sometimes tell us what they think we want or need to hear all the while hiding reality. And years ago, Andre Agassi told us in a commercial that image is everything. The world puts a great deal of stock in what we can see. The world tells us that we need the right clothes, the right vehicle, the right address, the right look. Masks have changed some of that no doubt. But the things of the world are neither important nor lasting. Paul reminds us, ”For the things that are seen are transient, but the things unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18.
Walking by faith and not by sight is a call to trust God even when we cannot see Him at work. In every business, every family, even every church, there are people working behind the scenes to make things happen. Most of us do not see these people working but still, things happen, they move forward. It is the same with God. Just because we do not see Him doesn't mean He is not busy. Just because we do not hear Him does not mean He has quit listening. This is all part of our journey of faith. God made Abraham and Sarah a promise that they would have a child. They waited 25 years for Isaac. God did not promise, and then walk away for those 25 years. He was preparing them for what was to come, even though they could not see it. In the Book of Esther, we do not find God's name once. But we find that God's handprints are all over everything that happens in this story. God's handprints are all over our lives as well. If we take the time to look backwards at our lives, we will see them, many times when we could not see, hear or feel God's presence. We walk by faith and not by sight.
When we walk by faith and not by sight it requires us to go to a place we are not familiar with. It means giving up control and trusting that God will lead and guide us and keep us from harm. It means we will be challenged and stretched as we trust. It means we will grow in our trust in God and in our faith. Many will not understand our journey of trust. Think about Noah, who at 600 years old was told to build an ark. It is quite possible that people in that day had never seen rain. And here is Noah building a boat as long as a football field in his front yard...because it was going to rain and flood the earth. Moses stood in front of the Israelites and told them there would be so much meat to eat it would come out of their noses, but he had no idea where the meat would come from, only that God said it would happen. Imagine the widow of Nain in the time between when Jesus stopped her only son's funeral procession and when Jesus commanded the son to sit up.
I don't know why we close our eyes at certain moments other than to savor them. But what I do know is if we trust the Lord enough to walk by faith and not by sight, He will take us up on that offer. Our lives will be such that God will build faith in us, faith that moves both mountains Gods hands. I know that if we walk by faith God will teach us to live life with abandonment and we will have the freedom to walk in His fulIness. I know our lives will never be the same. And I know that God will prepare us to be used mightily in this life for His glory.
This prayer comes from the evening prayer service. Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us strength to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W