Living By Faith, Not By Sight
Hebrews 11:27 says, “By faith [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” Oftentimes when we read these Bible verses, we skip over them so fast, never really understanding the struggles these people went through. Moses endured. Do you realize what he endured? They were not easy things. Moses first had to deal with the fact that what he had known as his “family” indeed was not. Then he forsook everything that was given to him—the robes, the title, the honor, the food and the riches—to become numbered among his own people, the slaves of the day. Moses then had to flee into the desert and become a lowly shepherd for years. The only reason he persevered for 40 years, in that hot, dry place that wasn’t his home was because he saw “Him who is invisible.”
And Moses continued to endure all his life. Chosen by God, Moses was sent to challenge the greatest empire and leader in his world at the time. He came against Pharaoh—the guy he grew up with, whom he once knew as his brother—not just once, but numerous times. Pharaoh wasn’t exactly happy about his authority being challenged. Yet Moses continued to endure until He saw the promises of God.
Only faith can enable us to live like that and to see those things done that others consider impossible. Moses’ faith gave him sight and set his hope on what God promised. Faith let him see beyond the realm of the natural into the realm of the supernatural, where God dwells and operates.
When we face struggles, problems and needs, it is easy to get discouraged. We want to give up the battle because the natural man tells us the problem is too big. I know this because it happens to me. But we cannot endure in this life without faith. We cannot endure unless we choose to see the invisible. My precious brothers and sisters, please fix your eyes on Him who is invisible. Be certain of what you do not see, “hold fast the confession of [your] hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
Can It Be Done?
One afternoon, 10 or 15 years ago, an incredible thing happened. My wife, Gisela, and I, along with some staff members, were sitting in McDonalds reminiscing on our days with Operation Mobilization when we’d travel all over the place in vans, preaching the Gospel and seeing hundreds come to Christ.
All of a sudden, in the midst of our conversation, it was as though there was a burst of energy and hope. Remembering those “good old days” and the ministry we were able to do by traveling in vans got me thinking. In the midst of all the reminiscing and dreaming, I said out loud, “Why can’t we believe God for 100 vehicles to go forth and preach the Gospel and win millions to Jesus Christ?” If you had known our financial budget at the time, you’d understand how absolutely crazy and ridiculous this idea was! There was just no way we could make that happen. We’re talking 100 vehicles, at $12,000 to $15,000 per vehicle!
I remember that day so clearly. Right there at the table, I pulled out my wallet and opened it up. I only had about four one-dollar bills in my wallet. I took them out and, with my red felt pen that was in my pocket, I wrote on those dollar bills “the first down payment, by faith, toward buying 100 vehicles,” believing the Lord that these vehicles would be fully equipped with everything needed to preach the Gospel. Right there in McDonalds, we laid our hands on the dollar bills and prayed, saying, “Lord, we are just helpless people, but we want to believe You, the great God who owns the whole world. You can do it. And this is our first down payment as a commitment to believe You for these 100 vehicles.”
When we got back to the office, I gave Margaret, the woman who handles our finances, those four dollar bills. I told her, “Please don’t spend this money yet, but put it in an envelope and keep it.” Until this day, the money is still sitting in that envelope, marked with my handwriting the date and the time when we first committed those four dollar bills to the miracle of God.
Do you know what soon happened? Before we even had time to tell this to anyone, money began to come in for vehicles! Today we now have well over 100 vehicles, plus enough money for more. How did that happen? From the days of my old reasoning, I would have said, “This is absolutely insane!” But God has chosen the “foolish” things and His ways above the smart, wise and logical things of our world. Anything is possible with our God!
His Promises Are True
When my children, Danny and Sarah, were growing up, I used to struggle with what would happen to them in the American culture. I was afraid they would get sidetracked from the faith. I would tell Gisela, “We must relocate to India. I don’t want to live in America. Our children are going to be lost here. This country will ruin them.” I even remember thinking that it was better not to have children in America than to have children and see them drift away.
Some people see me as a man of faith. But in this issue, all the faith was up in my head where it wasn’t doing any good. I was focusing only on what I could see, not walking by faith. I had a bunch of knowledge in my head, but it was not alive or active. James 2:20 talks about this kind of faith. “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” I lived with a lot of agony because I wouldn’t step out on faith and let God fulfill His promises in Danny’s and Sarah’s lives.
It was in those times that Gisela would remind me of how she grew up, saying, “But I was born in Germany. I was raised in a culture like this, and God protected me and preserved me. I believe my children will not be lost. I believe God will watch over them. I believe His promises are true for them.” But it was so hard for me to believe that for them. “Okay, you believe,” I would say, “but it won’t work!”
As time went by, her believing in God began to change me. Gradually I began to confess His promises for our children also. God protected Daniel and his friends when they were teenagers alone in Babylon. Samuel grew up in the religious deadness of Eli’s house, and God preserved him. It doesn’t matter where our children are or what they are doing. God is bigger than culture, confusion and tragedies. He is still able to preserve our children and protect them. Yes, we have a responsibility to live a righteous life before them and be an example. But that alone is not going to be the answer. Ultimately, we have to live by faith, not by sight. The best thing in the world we can do for our children is to confess God’s promises for their lives and believe the Lord for them. And according to our faith it shall be.
I want to encourage you to understand this. It is so important and so crucial that day by day, in every situation, in every way, we choose to walk by faith. I can say from years and years of experience in this journey, those who are willing to take God’s Word at face value and act in belief are the ones who experience His promises. But for those who try to explain it, figure it out or work out the promises on their own, there is only defeat.
© 2003 by KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.