By A. Trevor Sutton
(Be prepared to show a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge to your group. Bookmark 2 Timothy 2:1, 7, 11, and 13 in your Bible so you can find them quickly.)
San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge opened on May 27, 1937. Over the course of that day, roughly 200,000 people crossed the bridge on foot, on roller skates, and even on stilts. According to news reports from that day, a young runner named Donald Bryant was the first man across the newly opened bridge.
Out in front of all the others, Bryant was living by faith with every step he took. Would the bridge hold? Would the rough currents of the Golden Gate Strait cause the new bridge to crumble into the Pacific Ocean? Since nobody had ever crossed this bridge before, this intrepid runner could not rely on the past to inform his next step. Being the very first person to cross that bridge meant living by faith.
Faith is one of those biblical words that we often use but may not fully understand. We talk about having faith in Jesus. We talk about how the Holy Spirit creates faith. We talk about keeping the faith. But, do we really know what we mean when using the word faith? While no single definition will do it justice, here is a way that we can understand faith:
Belief + Trust = Faith.
Perhaps you are thinking: aren’t belief and trust the same thing? After all, we often use the words interchangeably. We say things like, “I believe that this bridge will hold me” or “I trust that this bridge will hold me.” You could say, “I believe your word” or “I trust your word.” Though we often use these words interchangeably, there is a difference between them. And the difference between belief and trust can help us understand faith.
- Belief or believing has to do with the past or what has occurred. You may believe that a bridge will hold you up because civil engineers have mathematically proven it, millions of cars have gone over it, and it has held up heavier people before you.
- Trust or trusting has to do with the future or what will occur. You trust that a bridge will hold you up when you walk over it this time. You trust that it will not unexpectedly collapse right now.
Believing and trusting come together when we live by faith and follow Jesus. As we hear in God’s Word, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith is the nexus of believing and trusting, the past and the future, the head and the heart.
We can look to the past to give us ample reasons to believe that God has got our back. Look at all the men of God in Scripture who had their lives wonderfully transformed by Jesus: Andrew found an uncommon strength in Jesus. Peter turned to Jesus and found eternal life and purpose in him. John experienced the gritty-yet-wonderful love of God in Jesus. Nathanael came to know a Savior who knew him inside and out. The Bible gives us many, many reasons to believe that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
Bolstered with this belief, you can trust God will not fail you now. Although you do not know what the future holds or what your next step in life will bring, you can press on into the future, trusting that God’s got you. Like a runner crossing a bridge for the first time, each step into tomorrow is uncharted territory. You do not know what will come with the next step. Nevertheless, even though you do not know what the future holds, you can trust that God holds your future.
Sometimes people run for fun (like running across a new bridge). And sometimes people run for their lives. The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote about the latter in his poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” This poem is about the hundreds of soldiers who died in the battle of the Balaclava in 1854. About these soldiers, Tennyson wrote these words: “Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.” Many people have adopted this as their own outlook for life: “Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die.” The followers of Jesus do not accept this outlook on life. Rather, we say, “Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to trust God will supply.”
- Faith trusts that God will supply us with life through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. (Read 2 Timothy 2:11 out loud.)
- Faith trusts that God will bolster us with his faithfulness. (Read 2 Timothy 2:13 out loud.)
- Faith trusts that God will supply us with strength. (Read 2 Timothy 2:1 out loud.)
- Faith trusts that God will supply us with understanding. (Read 2 Timothy 2:7 out loud.)
When you don’t know what your next step will bring, walk by faith and not by sight. Trust that God will supply you with what you need just as he has done for many men of God before you.
God has called you to live by faith today. That means stepping into the uncharted territory of tomorrow not knowing what that day will bring. Yet, you can look to God’s faithfulness in the past to inspire trust in God going forward in the future. Be reminded that God supplies you with all that you need to be a bold and courageous follower of Jesus.
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Editor’s note: Today’s entry is slightly adapted from the Ministry Message for the Living by Faith line of products for encouraging the men in your ministry.