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Do You Have Enough Faith?

I believe this ice is finally ready for skating. I can hardly wait to feel that cold wind lash my face!

Jim was skilled at observing the signs indicating whether the ice on his lake was thick enough to support his weight, and he was anxious to begin the skating season. He finished tying the laces on his skates and glided out onto the ice.

Without warning, the ice gave way. He crashed through and sank beneath the surface. The weight of his wet clothing and skates proved too much for him, and he drowned.

Did Jim lose his life because of his lack of faith? No, he applied his faith all right. He believed in his ability to judge the thickness of the ice, and he believed in the ice’s ability to support his weight. The problem wasn’t a lack of faith, but in the fallibility of the objects of his faith, his ability as a judge, and the ice’s ability to support him. He placed his faith in two things which were unworthy of his faith.

Some years back a university professor was teaching a class the art of rappelling. This sport involves securing a stout rope on top of a cliff and lowering down to the cliff’s base. The instructor took her class to the roof of a campus building, secured the rope to a large steel grid, grasped the rope, stood on the edge of the roof, and leaned over the lip. To the class’s horror, the grid popped out of the roof and the professor plunged to her death. This is a tragic, but true, story of a woman who had faith in the strength of the rope, in her ability to rappel, and in the grid’s ability to support her descent. The problem did not lie in her lack of faith, but in the fallibility of one of the objects of her faith. The anchor to which she entrusted her life was faulty.

Neither the professor nor Jim needed more faith, but rather more knowledge of the objects of their faith; with more knowledge of the grid and the ice, they would never have plunged to their deaths.

In the 19th century, Sam and his wife Bessie lived on the west bank of a wide river and one winter Sam learned this lesson of faith. Across the half-mile breadth of the river was a small trading post. As there were no bridges, they crossed the river by rowboat; in winter, they traversed on the ice. They had recently shared their cabin with a traveler who, unknowingly, had shared something with them, a highly contagious disease. Bessie now lay dying.

Sam recognized the symptoms and knew his wife had only days to live. The antidote which would kill the bacteria was available at the trading post. He cursed his stupidity for not keeping a bottle of it on hand, but times were hard.

It was early winter and the nights were cold. Although the river lay frozen, Sam was confident that the ice was neither thick enough to support his weight nor thin enough for his boat. As he loved Bessie dearly, he determined he’d rather die trying to cross the ice than live without her. He kissed her fevered brow (fully believing he’d not see her again in this life) and went down to the river. He pushed a large plank before him as he stretched his body prone on the ice, hoping that distributing his weight might keep him from breaking through. But in his heart he believed that the ice wouldn’t support him.

Slowly he inched his way out onto the ice, praying as he slid the board before him. Things went well for the first twenty or thirty feet, but then the ice began to groan. Slowly he scooted, with more groaning and more prayers. A hundred yards, a hundred and fifty, creaking, groaning. A crashing roar! The ice was breaking up! Sam clamped his eyes shut, bracing for the icy waters to engulf him. The roaring increased, but he was still dry! What’s happening? Sam turned and looked behind him. A man was racing a team and wagon across the ice! It roared right by him across the river, pulled up the bank and stopped at the store where the driver dashed inside.

Sam leaped to his feet, threw his arms in the air and shouted, "Hallelujah!" (He was a Pentecostal.) He raced across the ice to the store, got the medicine, hitched a ride back on the wagon, gave Bessie the medicine, and they lived happily ever after.

Now John and Nancy also had a cabin on a high bluff overlooking this river. John had been watching with considerable interest as Sam crawled across the ice. Although it was too far for John to hear, he saw everything clearly through his binoculars. Nancy called him away for a few moments, and he missed seeing the wagon race by. When he returned to the window, he saw Sam leaping for joy. What went through his mind as he saw this creeper become a leaper? Somehow God had given Sam more faith, right? Wrong. Sam had acquired more knowledge of the object of his faith. He had learned that the ice would not only hold him up, but would even support a team and wagon! Getting to better know the object of his faith changed Sam’s behavior. When he started, Sam had "mustard seed" faith as he crept onto the ice.* He had had almost no hope that it was going to support him. His circumstances had been so dire that he had chosen the river over the alternative. Is it possible that God uses techniques such as this with us at times? What kind of a God would allow the circumstances of life to so crush us that our only hope is Christ? Would He be a hostile God or an agape God if that’s what it took to bring a man to the end of himself? Agape. That’s how our loving Father works at times. You and I do not need more faith; we need an even greater knowledge of the Object of our faith; Jesus. Paul says, "For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly" (Phil. 3:10 Amp). This was the primary goal of Paul’s life, and God wants it to become ours as well.

God is dedicated to our everlasting welfare (Jer. 29:11). Christ on the cross is the only statement He need ever make to prove this. At times, He agapes us through situations where we have little choice but to creep out onto Jesus Christ. But, when we do, we find that He is more than sufficient to meet the need. We come to know Him by putting our weight down on Him.

This is how we are changed from creepers to leapers.

*In addition to the "measure of faith" which we all have (Rom. 12:3), there is the spiritual gift of faith (1 Cor. 12:7-9). It is for the purpose of edifying the church. Some Christians, apparently not realizing that they have the gift of faith, mistakenly believe God wants every Christian to have faith like theirs. They have a ministry that teaches that if you have enough faith, you have a right to guaranteed health and wealth. I call it "lust and trust." When it doesn’t work, the implication is that you lack the faith to make it happen. This is often detrimental instead of edifying to the body of Christ.

About the Author

Bill founded Lifetime Guarantee Ministries to encourage people to experience the reality of Christ as life. His transparent, humorous, down-to-earth style and sense of humor made him one of the most effective teachers of his time. He communicated with great clarity the full extent of what God accomplished in Christ and what that means for the Christian identity. Although Bill passed away in June 2011, his messages are timeless and will continue to impact generations to come.