Few leaps in life seem farther and more dangerous than the terrifying divide that spans the distance between a two-year-old and her father standing in waist-deep pool water.
“Jump to me.”
In the mind of a toddler, this is the emotional equivalent of leaping out of a plane. Her smiling dad, waiting with arms outstretched, assures her that everything will be fine—that he’s right there to catch her. She knows him. She trusts her father—but still, she hesitates. Fear of the unknown has taken hold, and like many who have come before her, it will wreak havoc on her young mind. Her dad, patiently waiting, encourages her, and with one last reassuring glance, she musters up her courage and wholeheartedly launches herself into his arms. What a breathtaking picture of the simple faith that we so often overcomplicate as adults. Hebrews 11 tells us that faith is the confidence that what we hope will actually happen; it gives us assurance about the things we cannot see. This two-year-old little girl had no prior experience to assure her of the result of leaping into her father’s arms. What she did have was the knowledge of what it feels like to have your head slip under the water, and she knew she didn’t like that! So what gave her the confidence to risk the jump? Was it blind faith? I would suggest that more than blind faith, it was the fact that she knew and loved the arms that she was leaping toward. She would almost certainly not make that leap into the arms of a stranger. She trusted the relationship with her dad, and her belief that he would catch her outweighed her fear of the water.
Four times, in four separate books of the Bible we are given the directive, “the righteous will live by faith.”
Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17
Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Galatians 3:11
“But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38 ESV
One idea, four times, in four separate books is significant. The idea of living by faith is one of the primary threads running throughout the whole of Scripture. From the garden to the end of time, God reinforces the importance of living by faith in His Word. It is one of the central concepts of the Gospel. We have seen already that there is no way for us to remedy our own situation. Where does that leave us? Should we work blindly to impress a perfect God with tainted offerings? Should we throw all we have into the hope that he might defy His own holy and spotless nature, somehow overlook our faults, and accept our fouled gifts? No. He wants us to trust Him and His plan, using reason and the evidence that He has provided us, even when that plan isn’t entirely clear yet. No one understood what it meant to live by faith more clearly than Abraham.
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God. (Hebrews 11:8–10) Abraham stood on the edge, looking out over the pool of the unknown, with God calling to him, “Jump!” Doubt and fear swirled in his mind. He was comfortable where he was. Why did God want him to move? Why now? Patiently God reassured him with promises. “I will make you a great nation, a great blessing, and give you a great name.” Abraham gathered up his courage and leapt into the life of faith that God had called him to.
What’s holding you back?