Northeast ATM - Week 2 - Faith
When everything seems to be going according to the plans, it is easy to pray and easy to have what we call “faith.” It is easy to believe we can accomplish a number of things in life.
In the movie Evan Almighty, Steve Carrell, plays Evan Baxter who has been elected to the U.S. Congress for his first term. His campaign was built on the promise to "Change The World."Evan is someone who believes in God, but not that God is willing and able to help him. He is self-reliant and self-absorbed. Evan realizes he has promised more than he can deliver and his failure could hurt his image and his chance at re-election.
Evan Baxter seemed to have “faith” while everything was “under control.” For that matter, as long as he didn’t have to believe that something seemingly impossible could happen everything was good. I mean, have you ever heard and/or said, “You must have more faith…” when facing a difficult situation in life? We all feel we don’t have enough faith to overcome a difficult and/or impossible obstacle, don't we?
Evan and his wife have both prayed and asked God for help. Her prayer was for the family to be closer. His prayer was for help as a politician to help the people. As they go about their daily business, neither has any real expectation of God showing up in any way that they can see .
What is Faith? We often struggle because we either forget or don’t understand the basis of the source of our faith. We either forget or don’t understand that there is nothing we can do to earn and/or to deserve faith. Faith is a gift from God. Also, we struggle with faith because we often say we have faith in God (promises) as our own way of saying that we expect to see Him get the job done a certain way. Or, should I say, we expect Him to get the job done our way.
One of the main Biblical definitions of faith comes from the book of Hebrews 11 in which the author tries to explain what, in many ways, is inexplicable.
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen[Now faith is the substance of things hoped for]; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” Hebrew 11:1.
If we are looking for a concrete, logical, and explainable definition of faith, Hebrews 11:1 is disappointing.
Though some translations might say conviction and assurance, some specialists say that a better translation for the initial part of this passage is substance. If that is the case, perhaps, the main objective of the author of Hebrews 11 might be to say that faith is something very fluid and with no specific format, so to speak.
Faith is not in my power to produce but to receive. Being a receiver who does nothing to either deserve or earn faith, my function in this whole process is to make this inexplicable substance called faith available.
By being vague and, to a certain extent, contradictory, the author of Hebrews is trying to say that we can get frustrated when we try to be producers instead of receivers of faith. We can get frustrated whenever we place faith in a box expecting faith to take a specific format.
In Evan Almighty, God knows the dam above the town will break on September 22. Evan's wife has been praying for the family to spend more time together getting closer, Evan's kids have been praying for animals, and Evan has been praying to Change The World. Yet, Evan has done everything possible to hide the fact that God has called him to build an ark. When his carefully groomed appearance changes radically, it is hard to explain his fluid and inexplicable faith to his wife.
Faith is, in many ways, inexplicable. Evan Baxter in this clip of the movie, we must come to the realization that we are to be receivers and make this substance called faith available to the Creator and Giver of faith. Faith is letting go of control when facing the most seemingly impossible circumstances.
Evan Almighty and his family have completed the ark on the day that God prophesied a giant flood would occur. As corrupt politician Long shows up with a court order to destroy the ark, Evan expects God to show Himself and vindicate Evan.
The author of Hebrews gives a number of examples of people received and made faith available without quite seeing positive and concrete results of their faith (Hebrews 11:2 - 12).
One of the stories is the story of Noah. Noah had to deal with all the mocking and ridicule from all the people to save his family and some animals. In a funny way, I kind of picture that Noah might have done what Evan Baxter did in this clip asking God for a little precipitation.
Abraham was called to leave home and go to another land. We know the outcome of Abraham making his faith available. Abraham was leaving the two great centers of civilization in the world. He was leaving a land of culture and good living to live in tents and to go to another place when he wasn’t sure where that would be. More importantly, Abraham quite never saw the end result of the promise that he was going to become the father of many nations.
The common thread that seems to connect all these stories of faith is not necessarily that they all have immediate and successful results. Like in this clip with Evan Almighty, they offered this substance called faith though they didn’t see the impossible immediately happening.
“[they] all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on earth” (v. 13).
The author of Hebrews is implying that our sense of immediate gratification blinds us from truly understanding what faith truly is. He implies that our sense of immediate gratification causes us to fix our eyes on the here and now.
At the end, Evan Baxter ruined his career as a US Congressman when he built a giant ark and became known as "New York Noah." Evan was rewarded with the love and respect of his family. Now, trying to figure out how this incident "Changed The World," Evan gets a chance to ask God.
Faith! To understand and have faith is to trust that God will fulfill His promises beyond what we can see. It is to understand that we are receivers instead of producers. It is to understand that our function is to make it available to the producer. Our function is to be exiles whose eyes are fixed on the producer (author) and giver of faith. Amen!