Faith – step by step

I am often overwhelmed – as well as inspired – by the faith stories of famous Christians.

They live through terrible trials with their faith intact and strong; they are channels of God’s grace through amazing miracles; they sacrifice the comforts of life to live among the poor and needy for many decades.

I have faith in God and he has taken me through troubles.  But where are the sacrifices, the dramatic tests, the obstacles that these Christians overcame through their faith?

As I think about this, two thoughts come to mind:

  • These people obeyed God’s promptings, his call to them; and
  • Most of the time, they grew in faith, step by step.

As I look back, I can see that I had opportunities, too, to sacrifice something of my own desires and comforts to serve God.  Obedience to God is vital to growing faith.

And, usually, the great men and women of faith started small before taking on grander projects in serving the Lord.

I like the example of Gideon in the Bible.  An angel begins by approaching Gideon in Judges, chapter 6, asking him to throw the Midianite oppressors out of Israel.  Gideon is an ordinary man and is appalled by this commission.

But God is patient with Gideon.  He takes this fearful man through several levels, beginning with tearing down the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole, symbols of Midianite power.

Gideon is terrified through every one of the increasingly tough tasks.  But the Lord gives him just enough strength and power to carry out each one.  The message God wants Gideon to understand is that, though Gideon is weak, God is strong.

There are several things I like about this:

  • The victory over the Midianites was God’s, not Gideon’s.  That is encouraging for me, because I feel weak and yet responsible for accomplishing things on my own strength.  That is not the message of this story – it is God who brings about great things.
  • But Gideon obeyed.  He protested and he tested the Lord.  Yet he obeyed.
  • Gideon grew in faith as he went from smaller tasks to bigger ones.  He saw that God was worth trusting and that he did what he said he would do.

God has given me tasks, too.  Sometimes I get discouraged.  But then I remember that Gideon and men and women like him through the ages have persevered.  And God has honoured their faithful obedience.

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