“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, NKJV)
It is by faith that God’s purposes are realized (made real) in our lives. If you look at the ‘Hall of Faith’ (Hebrews 11), from Abel to the prophets, you see that it’s faith that creates the next link in the chain of God’s redemptive history. It’s faith that enables the next step in the ladder. It’s faith that paves the way for those to follow. These all were following the Lord, looking forward to the hope, yet not fully understanding exactly what God was going to do. Abraham “went out, not knowing where he was going” (v. 8), “for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (v. 10).
And so faith is closely linked with God’s sovereign plans. God’s sovereignty is what Hebrews 11 looks like from eternity’s perspective (it’s not really mentioned in the chapter, but you can see God’s hand at work throughout). Faith is what it looks like to us, while we’re still walking, because we don’t know the end from the beginning. We can read Hebrews 11 and see how it all makes sense now. But Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, et al., didn’t know exactly how their lives would fit into God’s redemptive plan. They were walking by faith.
Faith for us in the present means looking to the future, while standing on the solid foundation of the evidence we have of God’s past faithfulness. Each of those guys in Hebrews 11 had to go through the same thing, trusting God, that he was faithful in the past, so he will be faithful in the future.
Henry Ford said, “History is bunk.” Napoleon said, “History is a fable.” But we know better. History is what faith looks like after the fact. History is God’s story, written before the foundations of the world.
Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus is the author of our faith. And so faith is like reading a book. The moment we call ‘Now’ is where the bookmark is (or the sentence we’re currently on). History is everything we already read. It makes sense to a certain extent, but the story’s not finished yet and there are some loose ends that need to be tied up. The future is everything we haven’t read yet. And faith is the act of reading, pressing on to the next sentence, turning the page, knowing that the Author is good and that when you reach the end, you will not be disappointed.
Time is a continuous link of consecutive ‘presents’. The moment that I wrote this sentence is now past, but once it was present. The moment you first read this sentence is now present, but now it is past. The future is the same way, just in the opposite order. Walk by faith in God’s promises–what He said, He will do. It’s already been written. You just haven’t read it yet. 🙂
His purposes will ripen fast,
unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
but sweet will be the flower.
– William Cowper, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”