“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go.” Hebrews 11:8
I ran across a familiar phrase this past week: blind faith, as in “some things you just have to accept on blind faith.” I don’t buy it. I really don’t believe in blind faith. We never have to accept a situation or direction on blind faith.
The closest example we have in the Bible of someone having to act on blind faith is probably Abraham. When God called him to leave Haran, he did not tell him where he was going. We cannot be sure Abram, as he was known at the time, was even a worshiper of Yahweh when God first called him. He appeared rather out of the blue in the last few verses of Genesis 11. As chapter 12 opens, God called him to leave everything familiar and go to an unknown place. His willingness to trust God makes him a fit candidate for the roll call of the faithful in Hebrews 11.
But did he really act on blind faith, without not even a hint of support or prior understanding? We can’t be sure because the Bible is silent on this issue. But I doubt it. I think Abraham had some notion of God, or perhaps he paid attention to a lingering ring of grace God always sounds. Someone has asked “why did God choose call Abraham?” The answer is “perhaps because he was the only one listening.” God never forces Himself on people. He only calls everyone, but the ones who respond have made an effort to listen. Abraham must have been listening, so his faith was not blind at all, but expectant. He knew Someone was there.
Some people today may say they have faced situations that have been far beyond anything they’ve ever encountered, and had to have faith to step out or to endure a completelynew situation. Isn’t that blind faith? Not at all. We perhaps often have “marched off the map,” of our previous experience, but all the ways God has blessed and guided us in the past prove to be prelude to this new territory we must explore and embrace. That is not blind faith, it is simply our next step in faith.
You may be facing new and extraordinarily challenging circumstance, but God has used your life to this point to prepare you for this latest expression of His calling. Rather than asking you to act on blind faith, He is simply calling you to act on the evidence and experience at hand. You need to take the next step, but that step is not into total darkness. The light shines behind you enough to give you some notion of where you need to go.
I would not suggest for a moment that the Christian journey comes without any doubt or uncertainty. Belief is not easy. Faith takes muscle. And God certainly doesn’t seem ready to show up in the sky. But this reverent uncertainty does not mean that we are left without powerful spiritual and intellectual support! We have evidence, and that evidence comes in several familiar and valuable forms.
Scripture. The Bible is uniquely sacramental in nature, for God communicates to us through it. Its guidance, wisdom, challenge, and comfort are unique and a sure mark of its inspiration. All of the Bible is at least nearly 2000 years old, and parts of it go back another full millennium. The fact that literature so ancient, coming to us through different languages and cultures, addresses so clearly the most important aspects of our lives is singularly remarkable. Genuine spirituality and truth is timeless, and the Bible has proved itself to be a trsutworthy guide.
Think about it. We have many different kinds of ancient texts, but no one, that I know of, claims that the Enuma Elish inspires and guides them for life. Homer was brilliant, but neither the Iliad nor the Odyssey changes lives. The Bible does these things. The scripture has a ring of truth that inspires and encourages so that we never face any situation with blind faith.
God’s presence. One of the clearest teachings in the scripture is that God is with you. You cannot ignore or even diminish the vital importance of this truth. Christ abides in you and you in Christ. The Father is with you and will never fail or forsake you. The Holy Spirit whispers comfort to your soul.
We tend to be “practical” today, relying on evidence which can be felt and seen, tested and proved. The problem with the practical approach is that faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. God works quietly, often subtly, not to be evasive, but to drive us to deeper faith in Him. Trusting in God’s presence, exploring and cultivating it, therefore, is actually more practical than simply relying on what we can see and touch. The true and deep wonders of God are far beyond what eye can see or ear hear (1 Cor. 2:9).
The fellowship of the faithful. The trials you face are “common to all,” and in sharing your struggle with others you open up yourself to help from your brothers and sisters in Christ. You have not walked before the difficult path lying before you, but someone you know has, and God has a marvelous way of bringing those people to you.
Frankly, we never lack of direction from God. God is neither silent nor reluctant. In fact, in addition to not believing in blind faith, I also do not believe in unanswered prayers. God is not fickle. He listens and responds because He loves you. His answer may come in the form of an acquaintance who can guide and encourage you. Instead of accusing God of being silent we may need to confess that we are merely obtuse! Someone around you, of a more experienced faith, knows what you are facing and can help you through a hard time. They become God’s voice for you.
Without question we see through a glass darkly. Yes, we know in part, but that part means that we need never act with blind faith. God always provides enough light for you to take a step forward. Trust Him. Take the next step.
Dr. Terry Ellis
October 30, 2016