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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Unicorns, Rainbows and Jesus

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

–Steve Jobs

I think I’ve always been an idealist. But the world tries desperately to beat idealism out of you at a young age.

To teach you to conform to the status quo.

To be a realist.

Don’t get your hopes up because you might be disappointed, they say.


The idealists, the dreamers, are laughed at or in the very least, not taken seriously. Idealism is equated with ignorance and blind optimism. Idealists are perceived by realists as the ones with their heads in the clouds, who view life through rose-colored glasses, live in a fairytale and chase butterflies, rainbows and unicorns. Ok that last bit may be a slight exaggeration, but the word “idealist” seems to have taken on a negative connotation. Idealism is something you are supposed to grow out of, like that awkward middle school stage. Or acne.

However, those that hold onto their idealism into adulthood are the ones who change the world because they refuse to live in a world where things are not as good as they should be.

Jesus was an idealist.

An idealist is “a person who represents things as they might or should be rather than as they are.” Now, lets be honest, most of us wouldn’t mind be likened to Jesus. So as a self-proclaimed idealist of course I’m going to attempt to find similarities between Jesus and myself. But honestly, when you look at his words and his life you can’t deny it: Jesus was an idealist. He was never content with the way things were. He was relentless in uprooting belief systems and doctrines that weren’t in line with the way the world was intended to exist. As he walked this earth in human form, his eyes saw the world around him not through rose-colored glasses but through the lens of his father’s original will and design. Where there was shame and condemnation he could see grace and acceptance. Where there was hatred he could see love. Where there was injustice he could see justice. Where there was bondage he could see freedom. Where there was violence he could see peace. Where there was sickness he could see health. Where there was death he could see life. Where there was impossibility he could see possibility.

If you ask me, following Jesus is our invitation to live as idealists. Because as much as the world around us can look grim, as much as it seems impossible for one life to make a difference, and as much as it seems that global change in any area is impossible, we serve the God of the impossible. Following Jesus’ example means moving towards an idealism that sees beyond what is in front of our physical eyes and into a beautiful world not yet existing.  Not naively or impulsively, but having counted the cost of a life lived for Christ and putting our entire faith in him we take a calculated risk to believe he is who he says he is.

And if he is who he says he is, then we can sail boldly into uncharted territory trusting that he knows the waters. We can take the first step without knowing every subsequent step because we trust that he is marking the path before us. We can dare to dream a crazy big dream because he knows the deepest longings buried in the human heart and holds the keys to every locked door we may encounter. We can attempt to do what we are utterly unqualified for because the only qualifier needed is faith in who he is, not who we are.

So often we disqualify ourselves the minute God whispers a world-changing dream to our hearts. We instantly hear another voice accusing us of arrogance. How dare you think you could be capable of something that great? Who do you think you are?

You’re not good enough,

smart enough,

talented enough,

holy enough,

pretty enough,

cool enough

educated enough

or equipped enough.

You’ve failed too many times before,

God’s grace has run out,

you’re too old,

you’ve already missed your moment.

The minute we listen to those lies we’ve disqualified ourselves. When our focus is on what we can do with what have on our own we will never measure up. When we choose to ignore those lies and instead look at who God is, he sees our hearts and says, “that is someone I can use.” He qualifies the unqualified.

Ignoring all of those internal accusations takes courage though. People may laugh at you. You may look foolish attempting to do something outrageous. People will scoff at your optimism. They may accuse you of being naïve, of having your head in the clouds, of being nothing more than a dreamer. An idealist.

Idealism is the path less travelled. Yet for as often as we’ve heard that speech throughout our lives, most of us, instead, take the path of least resistance. We do what everyone else has done before, living small lives that don’t have much of an impact on today much less eternity.

My hope is not that we feel hopeless or ashamed of the lives we’re currently living, but that we could come to a place where our fear of mediocrity and the status quo outweighs our fear of failure.

Jon Foreman put it this way,

“Far better to fail at building a magnificent world than succeed at monochromatic survival.”

Really, what have we got to lose?I would rather attempt to rid the world of the ugly and evil at the risk of failing than to get to the end of my life and know things might have been different if only I had had the courage to live audaciously .

We absolutely will encounter failures along the way. Every inventor knows that those failures aren’t as much of a setback as they are a stepping-stone on the path towards success. The realist in all of us screams “give up now before the disappointment settles in, don’t get your hopes up.” But the ultimate reality, the past, proves to us that idealists are the ones who truly change the world. Story after story of pivotal inventions throughout history illustrate this. Despite the naysayers and opposition, the rejections, the failures and the uphill battles people like the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison, and yes, Steve Jobs have succeeded in changing the world because they were crazy enough to think they could. These examples and countless others have essentially recreated the world we live in and how we live in it. And they all have something in common. The ability to see things not as they are, but as they should be; perhaps even as they will be one day. The possibility of the world they saw in their mind becoming the world we all see was enough for them to continue on despite the risk of epic failure.

Now if these men can find the courage to swim against the current and dream boldly of a better world, how much more should we who humbly follow in the footsteps the boldest, most world changing idealist to ever walk the earth?

So get your head in the clouds, your feet off the ground and start dreaming bigger dreams.

In the words of idealist Steve Jobs:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

The question is, how crazy are you?