A friend of ours has given us a number of audio files with lessons that have been preached by Paul Earnhart. As I walk in the morning, I love to listen to those lessons—his words not only get my brain thinking but help open my heart first thing in the morning; for those of you who know me well, you know that is no easy task for me at that time of day! This morning, I was listening to a lesson about what it means to believe in Jesus. Brother Earnhardt makes a distinction within the lesson between subjective faith (one that is based on my own experience and feeling) and objective faith (one that looks beyond my own experience and to God’s instruction). As an illustration of this, he discusses the attitude of Peter and the others when they have fished all night with no success, and Jesus comes and tells them to go out again and cast their nets. Subjective faith would say: “What does he know? After all, I am a fisherman, and I know these waters—there’s nothing there to catch this day! I mean, He’s a carpenter! What does he know about fishing?” Objective faith would say, “I may be a fisherman, but He is the Lord. I will go.” That kind of heart of faith is so inspiring to see in the pages of Scripture, but why is it so difficult to cultivate day to day?
The one example of such faith that Brother Earnhart mentions has always struck me as well—the example of Abraham’s utter willingness to sacrifice Isaac—the son whom he loved, the son God has promised him. Would I, as Abraham did, be able to say, “Yes, Lord, I will do as you say”? My heart breaks for Abraham each time I read that account. Brother Earnhart points out that if you had encountered Abraham that day and questioned how in the world sacrificing the son that God had given him would ever lead to the completion of the other promises God had made, Abraham would have most likely said, “I don’t know. But God does.” Isn’t that the very basic heart of faith? I certainly don’t know, but God does. No wonder it is asserted that Abraham believed the LORD, and his faith was accounted to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3).
God has so graciously and clearly taught me His path in His Word, and in so many ways what He wants of me is so clear, but I struggle with daily application. I am struck by how often in my life I have “kicked against the goads” of the circumstances that have been put before me in life, knowing in my head the truth that God works all things to His glory. Knowing in my head that any challenge, any suffering will bring me closer to Him if I will allow His molding to take place, yet I battle. I want to know why I am the one who has to deal with these things, why life can’t work out the way I want it to, why there isn’t a less painful way of handling a situation, and on and on. But a heart of faith simply says, “Yes, Lord. You see the path I do not, so will follow your lead.” A heart of faith simply does what God asks, and leaves the rest to Him, knowing He is able to handle the rest. I am reminded of the plea the father makes to Jesus in Mark 9:24, “Lord, I believe, please help my unbelief!” I DO believe He can handle it all, but oh, how I long for the answers and the vision to see how it will all work out in the end. But that isn’t my portion. It is God’s to know, and mine to follow. His path is always right, even if doesn’t make perfect sense to me. My dear friend Dixie Goolsby once told me that before she goes to bed at night, she likes to read Psalm 23—that this is not a psalm of death, but a psalm of life, and how right she is. It teaches me the gentle heart of a trusting faith:
The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not want;
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me by still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil.
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
They comfort me.
You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies,
You anoint my head with oil,
My cup overflows
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD, forever.
May we all grow to rest and trust in the love of the Good Shepherd in full, obedient, faith.