Jesus makes it clear that faith is a power that exceeds anything known to us in the natural realm. Focused faith sees God suspend His laws of physics and reshape reality to His will. Faith saves, it heals, it delivers, and it provides. In Hebrews 12:2 we read that Jesus plants that kind of faith in us, and He promises to perfect it.
“… let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;” (Hebrews 12:1-2 KJV).
How do we walk out such a remarkable calling? It’s certainly not a matter of the amount of our faith. Jesus teaches that having faith the size of a mustard seed makes anything possible. In Matthew, we read,
“…for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” (Matthew 17:20 NASB).
Even so, where is the “start button” on this vehicle called faith? How do we make it “go”?
Don’t Stare at the Problem
Often we’re called to exercise faith to overcome a problem. We look at “impossible” family circumstances, financial troubles, or sicknesses. God gave us eyes for the purpose of navigating the physical world, but sight poses a challenge to our faith. When we pray for someone with cancer, we naturally grieve and sympathize. However, meditating on the sickness only weakens our faith.
After Jesus had fed the five thousand, He sent His disciples across the Sea of Galilee, by boat. When they are some distance from shore, a fierce storm arises. Fearing for their lives, the men see Jesus walking toward them on the water.
“Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ And He said, ‘Come!’ And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” (Matthew 14:28 NASB).
Peter’s faith in Christ allows him to step out on the waves in defiance of the laws of physics! After a moment, Peter sees his surroundings and can no longer believe. “But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ “ (Matthew 14:30 NASB). Seeing the “reality” of his situation causes Peter’s faith to fail. Focused faith looks beyond what the eyes see.
Don’t Stare at the Solution Either
Today, many voices encourage “visualization.” Visualization is the exercise of imagining things as you desire them to be rather than as they are. According to Hebrews 11:1, this is a valid expression of faith.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 NASB).
Unfortunately, many who visualize, imagine worldly goods such as money, nice cars, or houses. Is this God’s kind of faith? I don’t believe so. James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches,
“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33 NASB).
Visualizing the solution is an improvement, but focused faith looks elsewhere.
The Secret of Focused Faith
King David was in between some of the significant events of his life. Samuel had anointed him as king, though Saul still occupied the throne. David had killed Goliath. He lived in Saul’s household, but Saul’s jealousy drove David out. David fled to a city called, “Ziklag,” along with six hundred men who had joined him from Israel.
Ziklag lay between Israel and the Philistines. David and his men periodically raided enemy territory for provision. One day, David and his men returned to Ziklag and found the Amalekites had destroyed the city.
“When David and his men came to the city, behold, it was burned with fire, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep.” (I Samuel 30:3-4 NASB).
In fact, the men spoke of stoning David. Though David grieved, as well, he made a decision to direct his thoughts elsewhere.
“But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (I Samuel 30:6 NASB).
David called for a prayer garment and sought God. Notice that he didn’t tell God his troubles; God already knew them. Likewise, he didn’t even make a request as to what God should do. In verse eight, David asks, “Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?” God answered and moved on His behalf. David and his men rescued all the people of Ziklag.
The faith that moves mountains does not trifle with present conditions. The faith that shapes reality does not limit itself to human needs, wants, or aspirations. God calls us to a faith that looks past reality and extends beyond human possibility. Faith releases its utmost power when we make both our needs and our requests a secondary concern. Focused faith makes a conscious decision to center our thoughts on the person of God, who bends time and space for those who trust in Him.