Ever prayed a prayer like this?
"God, if you'll just change my heart towards ______, I'll forgive ______."
"God, if you don't want me to take this step [consisting of some unethical action], show me another way this could work out."
"God, if you really want me to follow you with my whole life, give me some clue how this one aspect of my life will work out."
If you're like me, you've prayed all of these prayers at one time or another. The problem is that each of these prayers is built on a flawed conception of faith. Somehow we've convinced ourselves that the biblical heroes obeyed God because all their fears disappeared, and they felt nothing but tremendous courage. So we pray for a moment like that. No fearful feelings, just raw courage.
However, the Bible never describes faith as the absence of fear. Faith is the ability and courage to take an obedient step while fear remains.
Gideon is a prime example. He is listed in God's "Hall of Faith" chapter (Hebrews 11), but read this account the night before his big battle:
Judges 7:10-11 [God said] "If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah. Listen to what the Midianites are saying, and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack." So Gideon took Purah and went down to the edge of the enemy camp.
Did you catch it? God told Gideon, "Tomorrow's the big day; it's time to attack. By the way if you're scared, here's something extra you can do." Next verse: Gideon is doing the extra thing, because he's scared.
I love the Bible's realism. It gives me hope. It also tells me that most often, my fearful feelings will not go away. However, I can still have faith. I can still obey even WHILE I am afraid.
Ok, here goes my "fraidy faith"!
--Matt Gregory (Lead Pastor @ Soul Purpose Community Church)