I was recently listening to a sermon by Britt Merrick called “Getting Through the Impossible”. Britt’s a great guy and an old friend of the family (he’s not old, but our family’s friendship is old), and I always enjoy hearing his passionate exposition of Old Testament stories and how they have prophetic impact on our walk with God today.
The main trust of the sermon, as it built upon the story of Joshua and the people of Israel getting ready to cross the River Jordan into the Promised Land, was that sometimes God gives you a piece of information that is woefully incomplete. You feel like saying “Yes, Lord, that’s great. And…? A-A-N-N-D???” How on earth can you move forward when you don’t yet have the game plan down pat? How can you accomplish the purpose you have in life when you don’t have a clue what comes next?
There are two elements of vital importance to our relationship with God: faith and obedience. Faith without works (i.e., the results of action) is dead, according to James, and it’s only reasonable to expect that God requires obedience as evidence of the faith we hold. It’s not enough to say “Lord, I believe” and then sit by and watch things happen from afar. It’s not enough to say “Lord, I believe you’re going to lead us into this land” and then not start wading into the raging, impassable river. It’s not enough to say “Lord, I believe you will protect me” and then recoil at the thought of traveling to a dangerous country to preach the Gospel. It’s not enough to say “Lord, I believe it’s Your Will for people to be set free from demonic oppression” and then refrain from laying hands on oppressed people and casting out the tormenting demons. It’s not enough to say “Lord, I believe you are in control” and then when trouble comes, you retreat into your little corner blinded by fear and panic.
I am as guilty of this as anyone. I had a very difficult day today and for some reason was demonically attacked during the afternoon. For quite a while, I didn’t feel at all like worshiping and praising God, believing in His promises, moving forward in my divinely-appointed work. I felt more like crawling into a hole and wallowing in bleak depression and self-pity — a rare state for me, since I’m normally quite the optimist.
But you know what? After dinner, when I was still being attacked and fed a string of lies in my mind, I finally realized this simple truth: if I have faith in the authority Jesus gave to me to cast out demons because of his shed blood on the cross, then I’d better start acting like I believe it. So I did exactly that and asked my brother to pray over me. Several minutes later, I was dancing around the room worshiping and praising God — a complete change of behavior, mindset, and attitude from only a short while prior.
To make a long story short, God doesn’t always give us the big picture. He doesn’t always grant us understanding for the journey that lies ahead. We aren’t always given the blow-by-blow account ahead of time. But He always, always tells us what we need to know in order to have faith in Him and obey Him. So when that raging river is staring me in the face and there’s no boat or bridge at hand to cross safely, I’ll still walk forward and get my feet wet because God has told me that the Promised Land awaits me on the other side. He will always provide the way when I simply trust and obey.