Great Faith, Part 7
In the previous post we started to dig into the mechanics of the faith seed-to-manifestation process by establishing the first of 5 soil conditioners necessary for production - SETTLE IT. We are extracting these 5 keys from Hebrews 11:13-ff so let’s take another look and see if we can identify the second soil conditioner: All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth [Heb 11:13 NLT]. Did you find it?
In keeping with the simple two word motif, the remaining 4 points will all be a two word phrase and begin with the letter S. The middle of the verse states that they (those who died in faith), saw it from a distance and welcomed it. We will call our second conditioner, SEE IT. What was it that they were seeing and welcoming? This is where an understanding of how and what faith sees is vital to bearing fruit. To help make this point clear, we are going to look at this from the perspective of the seed that has just made the decision to be settled (planted) into the ground. So, engage your imagination with me.
The seed is in the hand of the Sower and it has just sat through an amazing sermon about the powerful potential that lies within it. This potential can only be realized if the seed will surrender to the process of bearing fruit by first being buried in the soil. The Sower has shared, in full disclosure, that surrendering to the soil really means that it must first die if this potential is ever to be manifested. The seed makes the decision to trust the Sower’s promise and is then cast out onto the soil and plowed under the dirt. Imagine what must be going through the mind of the seed…
There it sits, awaiting whatever dying looks like and feels like. Imagine having to battle the bombardment of thoughts of wanting to climb out of the soil and reconsider all this SETTLE IT stuff. Imagine the anticipation, and perhaps anxiety, of just waiting in pitch blackness, not knowing what is going on and how long this is going to take. In order to keep the resolve to SETTLE IT alive, the seed decides to focus its attention on something, anything other than the great unknown that it finds itself surrounded by. So, with eyes wide open, straining to see what is around it, there is only darkness. Gone are the days of the comfortable conversations with its seed companions as they huddled in the seed package wondering if what the picture looked like on the front was really what they, someday, would look like. All the hope of those days was now being tested by a choice to believe in the Sower.
The seed can see nothing in its new environment that is familiar. This darkness forces the seed to engage something that the Sower mentioned in His sermon, “in the darkness you will find yourself in, you will have to make the decision to see by faith, not by natural sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). “You will have to still believe in my words even if you can’t see how they will ever come true.” Then, in a moment of divine clarity, the seed closes its physical eyes and the spiritual eyes of faith pop wide open. There, as if on a movie screen, scenes and vignettes of Spirit-inspired possibilities begin to flash like a rapid fire trailer about an upcoming action movie. The eyes of faith are born! The scenes are a bit blurry and disjointed, but the seed is beginning to see by faith. What does it look like to see by faith?
The ability and discipline to see by, or through faith, is the determining factor in whether or not the seed will grow on to maturity and eventually manifestation. Faith is designed to function in darkness. The world that the seed lived in prior to being planted represented a reality that could only produce hope. Hearing inspiring words about what seeds can become and seeing day-dream producing pictures of what other seeds have become, produces a possibility that it could happen again. It is only when the seed fully acts on a belief that the Sower is not lying and places its life and destiny in the Sower’s hand, that hope is transformed into faith. Faith is the active form of belief. Remember from a previous post, the word belief means “a state of being loved.” This gives new meaning to the popular saying “love is blind.” When the seed is fully convinced that this whole planting process is actually the greatest expression of the Sower’s love for it, the seed will become blinded by love to the conflicting reports of the natural senses and rest in the confidence that love never fails. The eyes of faith are focused on LOVE.
God has given a companion gift to faith that we have come to call our imagination. Over the centuries, the imagination of humanity has gotten a bad rap. Especially in more recent times with pseudo-spiritual practitioners popping up all over the landscape touting secrets of harnessing the imagination to produce success and all manor of personal gain. But, lest we toss the baby out with the bathwater, the imagination represents part of the image of God that we were created in. We were first created in God’s imagination before we became a physical manifestation. I believe that God built this capacity into humanity - to imagine something before we see the manifestation. This is our native homeland. We are from God’s image-nation.
If you read a little further in our text from Hebrews, you will see that the people who are living by faith are looking for a nation (country) that is not of the earthly realm. In their pursuit of God’s will and call, they are engaging through their imagination what this nation looks like and functions like. People of faith are from the image-nation, and therefore must engage their imagination to see it from a distance. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, uses this imagery of imagination when he talks about seeing through the eyes of the heart all the wonderful promises God has prepared for His children. Paul also adds a prayer for the Church of Jesus at the end of chapter 3 where he states God is wanting to do more in and through us than we can think or imagine! A Spirit-controlled imagination is faith fertilizer. Seeing by faith is seeing through your imagination.
This process sounds so easy but in reality the seed is finding it very difficult to stay focused. One moment, with eyes shut, it is seeing flashes of greatness. In the next moment, with eyes open, it still sees blank screens of darkness. Which is the real, real? Love may be blind (to doubt and fear), but faith is designed to have perfect vision if it is focused on the right object. What is the object of faith? The eyes of faith function like a camera: whatever is focused on will be developed. To help train our vision, we need to go back to the definition of faith from Hebrews 11:1- “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen.”
In a court of law, a case is founded on and prosecuted through the presentation of evidence. Here is a good working definition for evidence: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid. What is the available body of facts that faith is resting its case on? It must be none other than the testimony of the ultimate expert witness, God, Himself! (God CANNOT lie, Titus 1:2). God has given His testimony through His written Word, His spoken Word, His wondrous acts of creation, and miraculous manifestations of His power. God has presented all the evidence that needs to be presented for the case to be decided. The evidence is exhibited for all to see. When the eyes of faith are trained to focus solely on this evidence, 20/20 spiritual eyesight will see things that cannot be seen with the naked eye. God created all that we see from substance that we cannot see. Seeing by faith is a gift that God has given to us to see what He sees. This is what SEE IT is all about!
Back to the verse in Hebrews 11... but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. The writer of this verse is using an analogy that people of his culture would have fully understood. Here, a person is on a journey and recognizes a friend or important dignitary far off in the distance. They immediately make up their mind that they will alter their journey to greet and spend some time with this person even though they are still a long way off. The entire focus of the journey is now shifted to welcoming/greeting the object of what they have recognized.
This is how faith vision works. Faith is constantly scanning the horizon for where God is and what He is doing. Once recognized, faith points us in the right direction and dictates our actions. Faith is like a laser guided missile. Once it is locked onto the target it will follow it until it reaches it. In the case of the people mentioned in Hebrews 11:13, they saw the “promise” of God a long way off in the distance, locked on to the target, and set the course of their life to pursue God, even if it meant pursuing and never reaching the target in their lifetime. SEE IT is our decision to lock onto the target of God’s will and purpose for our lives.
If you are like me, it is so easy to get distracted by what is around us. I love to take in the sights when I am driving in my car, and at times I find myself (actually, my wife finds me) looking out the window and not watching the road. This can be dangerous! It is the same with using your eyes of faith on the journey of life. There are so many sense-oriented distractions along the road that if focused on for too long can have disastrous results.
God, in His amazing wisdom, has given SEE IT a powerful partner to help keep our eyes on the road. Keep reading in Hebrews 11 and see if you can find the next two word phrase that begins with the letter S!
So for now, stay tuned and tune in...
by Pastor Jim Anan