I used to love the movie “Young Guns”. In high school, my friends and I would quote the TV version often. There’s a scene where Billy the Kid (Emilio Esteves) is leading his band of men back to .Lincoln, Nebraska to finish off their enemy, but the odds are against them 100 to 5. Doc Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland) figures it out and turns the team away from Billy with the idea of going to Mexico. Billy said, “You’re all scared, and you’re going to fail the test. You have to test yourself everyday, gentlemen. Once you stop testing yourself, you get slow.”
That scene has stuck with me through the years. What was said in those lines is relevant to us spiritually. You have to test your faith every day. Once you stop testing it, you start coasting. Coasting leads to doing nothing. Doing nothing leads to stagnation. Paul was afraid that we would become stagnant in our faith because it’s human nature to sit back, relax, and take it easy. He warned us against it and told us to test our faith.
Paul wrote II Corinthians 13:5, “Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it” (AMPC). How do you do that? Well look at the people of faith in the Bible who tested their faith. David walked onto a battlefield with a giant carrying nothing more than a sling. Peter got out of a boat in a storm to walk on water. Abraham tied his only son to an altar and raised a knife. Each of them were willing to put their faith to the test in impossible situations.
Whatever your battlefield looks like today, don’t be afraid to step out onto it. No matter how loud your storm is, be willing to get out of the boat. Whatever sacrifice God is asking you to make, be willing to climb the mountain without seeing the ram in the thicket. You can’t show the proper fruits of your faith until you do something with your faith. It’s ok to be scared. I’m sure each of those men had some fear, but they pushed passed it and passed the test. What will your story tell about your faith?
How many times does God ask us to do something and then we see if it’s feasible before trying to do it? We try to get all our ducks in a row before “stepping out in faith.” It’s not really faith if we set everything up ahead of time to ensure our success. We trust in the things we see and know versus the unseen. We end up doing it in our own strength instead of His strength. We then wonder where our reward is for such an act of faith. The truth is we have our reward because we did it in on our own instead of trusting in Him.
In the last chapter of II Samuel, God was upset with Israel. David sent his army commanders out to do a census so he would know how many warriors he had. His officer replied, “May your God multiply people by the hundreds right before the eyes of my master the king, but why on earth would you do a thing like this?” He resisted David because he knew what David was doing and it wasn’t right. After years of serving God, walking with Him and talking with Him, David was still tempted to walk by sight.
David reiterated his command and sent the men out. In verse 10, it says, “But when it was all done, David was overwhelmed with guilt because he had counted the people, replacing trust with statistics.” The man, who once was indignant because an entire army was afraid of a giant defying his God, was now in the shoes of the army. He forgot that holy fire that he once had that wasn’t afraid of anything that came against God’s people. As he got older, he trusted God less and relied on what he knew instead. He forgot that God won his battles, not his numbers.
I think of my child who is willing to jump off of anything when I’m around. He trusts that I’ll catch him. As he gets older, he’ll try to push me away while he jumps off of things. He’ll get bumps and bruises and finally he’ll quit taking those leaps. His fear of gravity will overtake his trust in me. We do the same thing to God. We take leaps of faith early on in our walk with Him. We’re amazed when He catches us. Then we start trying to act independently of Him. We try to do acts of faith without Him. We fail and our pride gets bruised. We ask God where He was and why He didn’t catch us when we were doing things for Him. We then quit acting in faith all together. We end up only doing things for God where we are guaranteed success.
God asks us to trust Him completely. He asks us to trust a Him blindly. When we take those leaps, there is a time when we are free falling. Our stomach is in our throat. Our adrenalin is rushing. We are wondering if God will catch us because our destiny is not in our hands. That’s where God wants us to live. That’s where He wants our faith. He doesn’t want us to trust in statistics, numbers, things we can see or our own strength. He wants us to trust in Him alone. If He calls you to do something, don’t trust in what you see or try to make things work. Take the step of faith and have that child like trust that your Father will catch you.
One of my favorite things I used to do was to go float the Frio river. There’s something about lazily floating down the river in an inner tube with no worries. Eventually, as you’d float along, you’d come to a bend in the river that had created a cliff. At that cliff, there would be people who would climb up and jump off into the water. It looked like a blast. I paddled over to the shore, climbed up the side of the cliff and walked to the edge. That’s when it hit me: that’s a long way down.
Immediately fear crept in. I know knew why so many in front of me walked up to the edge and turned around. As I stood there contemplating whether or not to jump, my mind begin to think of every negative outcome. What if I hit a rock and was paralyzed the rest of my life? What if I messed up and belly flopped in front of everyone? What if I turned around and got back in my inner tube and kept floating? What if everyone behind me laughs? I could feel my heart beating in my throat as I stood there looking over.
Since that time, I’ve been to Acapulco and watched the famous cliff divers there. They were amazing. They had no fear. They climbed even higher than I had at the Frio. Their cliff was more treacherous. They stood up as crowds watch and video and took the leap. Some were doing inverted flips and then spreading their arms like wings to gracefully fly towards the water. I wish I could say that’s what my jump looked like. Mine looked more like a pencil being dropped into a glass of water vertically.
I’ve found that in my life right now I’ve been called out of a life of floating along. I’ve been called to take that leap off faith. I’m standing on the cliff right now looking down. Those thoughts of doubt creep in and make me fearful of taking that leap. There is uncertainty of what the future will look like after I leave the ledge. I have a choice. I can turn around and get back in my inner tube and float along or I can jump. My heart beats with anticipation. There’s excitement and fear at the same time.
Where are you today? Are you floating along safely in your inner tube? Are you looking at others who are jumping off their cliff and wishing you had the guts to do that? Maybe your climbing up the rocky cliff now and wondering how much longer you have to climb. You could be standing in line watching other turn away in fear and starting to doubt getting out of the inner tube. Are you standing on the edge of that cliff, looking over and thinking, “What if I fail?” Wherever you are, I pray today that you have the courage to keep going until you jump off that ledge.