Believing Is Seeing, Pt. 1

James Shupp discusses faith.

Seeing It Before You See It

I love this kid. He believes he will fly. Most likely, he will see what he believes to come true one day. That's the power of believing.

Do we see to believe or believe to see? Let's suppose it's pitch black all around you, and you can't see a thing. You still believe something exists even though you can't see it. You are aware, even without the sense of sight, that space is occupied by matter. In the spiritual realm the same principle applies. Even when it seems that life has grown dark all around you, and you can't see your way through the misery, there is still room to believe.

Let's talk about dark days. Everyone has had a few, and I'm glad the Bible doesn't gloss over this reality. Job put it this way. Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness, Job 30:26 (NIV).

When things aren’t going your way it’s easy to get discouraged. But don’t resign yourself into a state of hopelessness. There are some things you can do when everything turns gloomy. As your spiritual eyes adjust in the midst of the darkness, you might be surprised to discover what you really can see. I believe you will grow stronger as you apply these following principles to your life.

First, stop and talk to God. If you are a Christian, God will never lose sight of you, no matter how dark it is. God has never lost one child in the history of being God. He knows where you are, what you face and the size of your fears. You can call out to Him, and He will answer you. He’s promised you this much. I love talking to God whenever I’m having a hard time seeing my way through a dark maze. It helps to know that I don’t need to figure everything out and that He’s in control. He guides every step.

I remember encountering many dark days when I was a spiritual infant. I valued activity over waiting. I wanted to find my own way out of the darkness. Then I discovered that all my frenzied activity carried me nowhere, and very slowly.

Also, I was an expert at trying to talk my way out of the darkness. I was neither skilled nor disciplined in listening to God. All my words were a monotone clatter ringing in my ears—something like sounding brass—all bravado and no wisdom. While in the darkness I looked for speedy solutions. I didn't have time for an opaque mystery. So I fired my silver bullet, problem solving pride at every murky problem. And most of the time, the rounds were like duds that got stuck in the barrel. On most occasions, I missed the mark and fell short of the target.

What was the end result? Over time, I’ve learned some things about waiting, listening, and mysteries. I’d like to pass these principles on to you:

1. Waiting

God is never in a hurry. He is never too late. He never arrives too soon. His timing is perfect. Everything in the universe is being coordinated to fit into His plan. Your life and your circumstances are part of the grand design of His sovereign will. Sometimes God wants you to wait so you will keep pace with His timetable. Run ahead of God and you will run out of gas. Lag too far behind God and you will lose sight of what He’s doing. Walk with Him, side-by-side, moment-by-moment, and you will never stumble.

2 Pet. 1:10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.

Consider that you don’t go anywhere important, if you don’t go with God. That’s why He wants you to wait on Him. I would never dream of taking a family vacation without my family. Many people set out to live their whole life for God, but then leave Him behind. The Christ life must be lived with Christ. You are helpless when you go off by yourself. Without God success is improbably if not impossible. Stop trying. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Listening

You haven’t heard anything important if you haven’t listened to God’s voice in the darkness. We forget that God is the original expert at speaking in the darkness. In the beginning the world was dark, but then God said, “Let there be light.” He’s been shining a light in very dark places since the first day of creation.

Reading the Bible is an exercise in listening to God. He tells us that His “word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path,” Ps. 119:105. If you are reading this, you probably haven’t spent much time driving at night without your headlights on. If you did, you’d be a statistic. The Bible is your headlight in dark times. It illuminates your path. It keeps you on the road moving forward. It alerts you to turns in the road. It keeps you from bumping into things that will cause great damage. As you begin reading, you begin seeing.

God’s word is the best roadmap ever. You’ll need it close at hand on the day when you turn the corner and discover that the light has vanished. He promises to guide us with His word. Amazingly, He even guaranteed to lead us through “the valley of the shadow of death.” Nothing is darker than death. And yet, no light is brighter than what you will see on the other side of death, for you will see Jesus, the Light of the world. In fact, the Bible says that in heaven there will be no sun or moon. Jesus will illuminate God’s celestial city. All light in heaven will emanate from Him.

3. Mysteries

You will never discover the best solution to a dark dilemma by following your emotions, gut instincts or self-preserving nature. God’s will is other worldly, often beyond reason and frequently mysterious. Why is this so? He wants you to join in the journey and the process of discovering it. God is all about relationship.

How bland parenting would be if your children were born having seen everything, learned everything, and tasted everything. I enjoyed putting my boys on their first roller coaster. It was a blast to see their little faces light up with a brand new expression after eating their very first spoonful of ice cream. I even enjoyed teaching them about Big Bird, and why he will never fly.

Mysteries intrigue. Your purpose is to invite God into the darkness where He becomes the Instructor. As we learn from Him we learn to love Him. It takes time to figure out a mystery. Never forget this: Time with God is time well spent.

Have you ever noticed that great mysteries are solved whenever a revelation is received? I loved reading the mystery novels of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I often tried to guess who the murder was or who committed the crime before the ending. Most of the time I was wrong. I would have sent the wrong person to the gallows. But Hercule Perot and Sherlock Holmes had one thing in common. They always solved the mystery in the end. And in the end, they each revealed the truth.

God does this. Why? He is a revealing God. It’s His foremost and greatest attribute. We wouldn’t know anything about God if He had not chosen to reveal Himself to us. You couldn’t talk about God being a God of holiness, love, mercy, or justice, if He had not first chosen to reveal these things about Himself. God is the great Revelator. On account of this we can learn many other things about Him, such as, why things are so confusing at times.

God loves to pull back the curtains on the darkness. When you have a hard time seeing, remember that God is moving behind the scenes. You are the actor—visible. He is the Director—invisible. He knows how things are going to end. One day He’ll let you see everything from His perspective. At that time you will understand that there was a purpose for you to be in the darkness.

As you look around you, is it dark? Don’t despair. God is not surprised by the darkness. He knew it was coming. In fact, He has been preparing you for this journey all along. You probably didn’t know that the truths He’s been teaching you over the last few months were in preparation for where you are right now. Reflect on the last few things you’ve learned about Him, and apply them to your current situation. And don’t forget to come back and read "Believing is Seeing," Part 2.

Job 12:22 He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light. (NIV)

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