The Space In-between: When Faith Looks Like Foolishness

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”

-Hillsongs “Oceans”

Faith looks like foolishness in the space in-between the word God speaks and its reality. Noah looked like a fool building a giant boat for a supposed flood and planning to somehow get two of every animal on board to live peacefully together for months. Until the rains started coming. And coming. And water bubbled up from the ground and began to accumulate. One inch, six inches, two feet, 7 feet and on and on until the waters covered the earth. It was only then that the strength of his faith was evident.

In preparation for a major battle, Gideon pared his army of 32,000 down to 300 in obedience to God. Then they took torches to the edge of the enemy’s camp, blew trumpets and broke jars causing the enemy to fight against each other and flee. A foolish move led to victory because of Gideon’s faith in God’s word. Joshua put his trust in God when he told him to march his army around the walls of Jericho for seven days and blow trumpets. As they stood before crumbling walls his soldiers were able to see the miraculous hand of God at work.

A young shepherd boy named David killed a giant with no armor and no real weapons—only a slingshot and a rock. The soldiers must have cringed at the thought of how badly Goliath would soon slaughter David, or maybe even laughed at the lunacy of such a small boy fighting a battle-hardened soldier. But the risk paid off and the soldiers’ laughter was silenced as Goliath’s massive body crashed to the ground.

Let’s talk about Mary the mother of Jesus for a moment. “Joseph, I’m pregnant and the father is the Holy Spirit.” Really? Really. Why did God choose her? Maybe it was because he knew her heart and that he could trust her to carry his promise with faithfulness and integrity. He knew that she wouldn’t cover up what God had told her in order to save face and protect her dignity. She faced serious consequences in her day to be unmarried and pregnant. She had no guarantee that Joseph wouldn’t simply call off the engagement and abandon her to an unfortunate fate. In the end her foolishness was revealed instead as faith, but she had to be willing to lay down her pride in the process.

The list of biblical accounts similar to these goes on and on. When God finds a person who fully trusts him, he can then trust them with the secrets of his heart. If it always made sense to us, if it worked according to human wisdom and the laws of nature, it would be so much easier. But it wouldn’t be faith. Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we don’t see.” Faith always requires a risk. This is why we take a “leap of faith.” There are no step by step instructions. There is no map. There is no checklist. We simply hear God speak and then leap into the unknown, trusting that God’s prepared the way ahead of us.

Peter looked pretty foolish stepping out on the water at Jesus’ invitation. Surely expecting him to sink below the waves, the other disciples must have watched in wonder as Peter began to walk on the surface. It’s in the space in-between the word God speaks and its reality that faith appears as foolishness to those around us.

Why doesn’t God just function within our framework? Why not ask us to do things that make a little more sense? Why make us risk failing or looking like fools? Because then the extraordinary would be reduced to the ordinary. Then the miraculous could be boiled down to science. And God would be lessened to a god that fits in all of our boxes.

If we are willing to risk looking foolish in the space in-between, God can show up in a big way. These are the moments when the atheist can no longer deny the existence of his creator. These are the moments when the unloved can see that their Father will go to any length to make them aware that the creator of the universe knows and loves them. If we desire to be greatly used by God, and we should, we have to be willing to be foolish in the eyes of the world. 1 Corinthians 1:25 says that the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom. Even the greatest wisdom of earth is merely foolishness compared to God’s wisdom.

As Christ-followers we have a choice. We can relegate God to a status slightly above our own, believing that Jesus was just a teacher here to show us how to be good people. We can put God into our box of what we understand with our finite minds, claiming that anything outside of that is foolishness. We can choose to worship a God that exists to answer small prayers and provide a support crutch in our tough times. We can essentially choose to worship a god of our own creation, who follows our rules, formulas and equations.

Or, we can take God at his word, believe he is the God of the impossible, and step into what he’s calling us to do even if we appear completely foolish in the process. We can choose to worship a God who is actually worthy of worship because he’s not simply a greater version of “us.”

He is altogether higher, greater, wiser, more loving, more powerful, more merciful and gracious than we as humans will ever be on our own.

And as we live out the space in-between the foolishness and the revealing of our faith he continues to reveal his character to us. As we put our faith and trust in who he is he will provide the strength we need to persevere and will shape and mold us to be more like him. When we reach the other side of our test of faith we will see the hopeless find hope, the unloved find love, the broken and depressed find healing and joy, and the dead come to life in Christ.

We’re not simply here to exist on earth and live a cozy life full of comfort and convenience. We were given an assignment to share with the world a God who loves so deeply and desperately that there is literally nothing he wouldn’t do to ensure they receive that love. He knows the hairs on their heads, the tears they’ve cried and the needs of each life. But he won’t do it without us. We are the tangible, visible expressions of God’s love and if we are going to be that love manifested on earth we will have to step out of our comfort zones and onto the waters of foolishness.

To the rest of the world, it is the picture of foolishness as our foot slowly travels through the air, over the edge of the boat and finally reaches the waves. Only as they see the surface of the water unbroken and our feet resting soundly on top will the reality of our faith become evident to those around us. And only then will we truly change the world around us.

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“You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail. And there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep my faith will stand.”

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