As people in ministry, faith seems like something we would automatically understand. But often times this is the thing we just assume we have a grasp on and sweep over. If you just hop on the internet for a scripture search for faith, one of the top responses you’ll get is Hebrews 11:1, which says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
I memorized that passage as a kid in church but I didn’t begin understanding it until about my second year in college. I had this dream for a full, healthy, meaningful life living for the Lord with this fulfilling job and a supportive husband and these beautiful, wonderfully-behaved kids, but I was failing out of college and spending all my money on clothes and fun and myself. I was doing nothing to give back to my community or to even develop myself as a person, much less as the wife or mother or Godly leader that I said I wanted to be.
Oxford Dictionary says faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”. So look at that definition and our definition in Hebrews, and then compare it to my life in that college season. What I hoped and dreamed for in my life and the way I was living just didn’t add up. I wasn’t living a life of faith because what I was doing day-to-day was not evident of what I was hoping for. There was very little substance indicative of what I wanted for the future of my life. I was saying with my mouth that I wanted to be a great mom and a really confident wife and person with strong work ethics… but then I was a bum just hanging out until 4 in the morning and sleeping till noon. I had ZERO fruit of the spirit, ZERO substance of the things I hoped that would be developed in my life. I had no real confidence that I could actually have those beautiful healthy things.
Let’s not just look at the season and dismiss it, though. So often as ministry leaders, we have great ideas and goals but when it comes to putting our complete trust in God, we miss the mark. Sometimes it’s a pride issue, sometimes it’s an unwillingness to release control out of fear of failure. Any way you cut it, it can be difficult to really move that dream into a plan of action.
There are two of my favorite people in scripture that really got faith right in Luke chapter 2: 25-32, and 36-38.
“In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God:
God, you can now release your servant;
release me in peace as you promised.
With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation;
it’s now out in the open for everyone to see:
A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations,
and of glory for your people Israel.”
“Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fasting and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.”
Simeon and Anna both had such deep faith, such deep substance of things hoped for, buried in their hearts that it moved them to change their behavior. Faith and behavior were so intertwined in Simeon’s life. He literally lived the bulk of his life with every decision wrapped around specific promises from God about his life. Because of this, he was given such a beautiful reward of holding, physically holding, the Messiah, our Jesus. Can you imagine the fulfillment in that moment? I’m holding the promise you made me Lord…right here…in my actual hands.
What if, during every season we begin living like Simeon and Anna by waiting expectantly and actively living like God was on the brink of doing the great thing he said he was going to do? With all our knowledge of religion and organization, we have to put priority on listening for God’s promises to us, and about us, and then living so convinced of the unseen – so full of faith – that we are ACTIVELY different in our every day choices.