I know faith has been used, at times, like a club that beats someone up further who hasn't been healed or seen a prayer answered and heard the words, "You don't have enough faith." That is sad. Faith is a beautiful word when used in the context of our confidence and trust in God, His Word, His character, His goodness, His promises. And, yes, faith does, often, play a role in God moving—the Bible is filled with stories of people whose faith caused something to happen—and it also records God moving in other times when it seems no faith was involved.
I have been teaching recently on the amazing, divine invitation we have from God as Christians to surrender our will and "kingdom" to His will and "kingdom" and to let His will be done where we have a realm of influence. It is amazing and awe inspiring and exciting that God invites us to colabor with Him and to be a part of His will and work—that He dwells in us, leads us, and offers Himself to us to partner in plans eternal, and to be a part of His kingdom driving back darkness. How could we ever buy the lie that we can somehow, on our own, make decisions for our life that will give us more happiness, meaning, purpose, joy, security, etc. then partnering with our Creator in the very plans and works He created us for?! Yet, how often each day we decide we can better secure our happiness or security or meaning than He can. It is so foolish . . . and yet, a lie we fall for far too often.
These last few Sundays I've been talking about some of the reasons we don't surrender to His will. Sometimes we don't want to give up control—our lives are already so regulated and to give up even more control of them seems to diminish us. Or, maybe we don't trust God—I know we'd never admit that, but it is true at some level for most of us. Maybe we don't trust Him to make us happy, or to speak to us, or to take care of us. Maybe we are afraid that what we think we need isn't what He thinks we need when He promises to take care of our needs. Maybe we are offended or angry at God because of something that happened to us once, or a prayer that wasn't answered, and it makes it hard for us to trust Him. There are so many reasons we might resist His will and choose our own in any given moment of our life.
One of the most powerful and revealing verses in the Bible to me is Hebrews 11:11. It says, "By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised." Sarah, who mocked and didn't believe, had a promise from God for a child. At some point, after her mocking, it seems she stopped and took her unbelief captive to something and that gave her faith. Her faith brought out the life and power that was dormant in God's promise, waiting, and it came to pass. So, what did she take her unbelief captive to? To God Himself. To His character. Somewhere in there she stopped, recognized the lie and the error of her thinking, and realized just who it was that promised her. It was God! The God who created the Heavens! And, by taking her doubts and, maybe, fears, captive to the person of God Himself they melted away and were replaced by a faith that brought life to God's promise and she received the power to conceive. Her faith brought power, and life.
When we look at ourselves, we find, I believe, one of two things. If we are arrogant and proud we find a false confidence built on frail and temporal bodies and minds. If we are self-critical and even honest with ourselves we find little confidence because we realize how limited we are and how fragile we are. But, when we look at God we find something else, altogether! We find an all powerful God who loves us beyond measure and who never leaves us or forsakes us. We find a God who invites us to colabor with Him and to partake in the Kingdom's resources to bring His will and plans together. We find a Creator who created us for special works and leads us in fulfilling them, hence fulfilling the very purpose we were created for. We find a God who breathes out stars and yet says to us, "I want to spend eternity with you!" Suddenly, when we consider Him and not ourselves, His capability and not ours, His wisdom and not ours, His power and not ours, our faith is increased and the impossible becomes possible when it is Him leading us.
Sarah was bound by the world and her experience and her limitation. If formed the basis of her expectation, and in those boundaries she had no expectation of a child. But then she considered Him, and who He is, and His character and nature and power, and she realized that, while she is frail, He is faithful, and He has promised, and she was filled with faith and believed. And the power to conceive came upon her.
What has God invited you to colabor in? Are you considering yourself, or Him, in your assessing of it. When our own capability and resources form the outer boundary of our expectations the boundaries are small . . . but when He leads and we surrender and His capability and resources form the outer boundaries of our expectations, we find there are, in fact, no boundaries that exceed His capacity. He is faithful, even when we are not. Let us consider Him . . .