Thursday, November 05, 2009
Believing is Seeing
How many times have we been in a situation where we have to “believe” before we “see?” The motto we all have grown up with is “seeing is believing.” This pragmatic, scientific, materialistic, skeptical worldview leads us to only trust what we have already verified with our own eyes. In this way of thinking only fools believe before they see. But if I am a follower of Christ this is exactly what I am called to do throughout the journey.
Lately, I have known men who have lost their marriages due to unfaithfulness in the relationship. I have walked with men whose young adult children have chosen to head down the path of self-destruction. And I have felt the frustration of friends who are not able to find the job they need to support their families.
As I have encountered Christ in community with men like these, it has dawned upon me that we are each being “graciously compelled” to learn to believe before we see. This is not a once and awhile kind of a thing but for men of faith it is the norm. Jesus taught that believing is seeing when He said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” (John 7:17) He later told Thomas after His resurrection, “Because you have seen me you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:28)
This is the challenge facing us as men who follow Christ: we live in the land of “seeing is believing” but we follow a Lord who insists, “believing is seeing.” The things that are instantly visually available are often worthless things. But the things that we cannot see yet and are of the greatest value to us – a healed marriage, a restored relationship, or a child who turns back to God – we must wait for and believe God to do and “see” now only through the trusting eyes of faith.
I remember an illustration that Dr. Walt Henrichsen gave to a group of us young disciples several years ago. He said that most of our faith walk is spent where we are like the audience in a theatre and the hand of God is at work behind a closed curtain. God is training us to walk by faith, to grow in our trust in Him without seeing exactly what He is doing. But there are times, to encourage us, and knowing our weakness, He graciously will pull back the curtain and give us a glimpse of what He is doing. Almost immediately He will then close the curtain and gently say to us. “Okay, you’ve had a glimpse of what I am doing. Now continue to walk by faith.”
So this is where we are most of the time – in a dark theatre with the curtain closed. But what encourages me about this is the following:
• He IS at work behind the curtain. I can be sure of that.
• I am not alone in the theatre. He is with me there and he has placed me with others who also must believe before they see.
• Someday the curtain will be pulled back for good and my believing will become sight all the time and that will be forever!
• This time of waiting for believing to turn into seeing is a very short sliver of time in light of eternity.
• This believing before seeing lifestyle is developing in me Christ-like character and spiritual overcoming “muscles.” In other words, it has purpose for me both in this life and the life to come.
• Most importantly, to believe, to trust, to confidently rest in God before I see what I hope for Him to bring about, brings glory and honor to God.
“Believing IS seeing.” I am not alone. God is working. This is temporary. I am growing. He is being glorified. I believe I am beginning to see what He is up to!
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