Throughout scripture, we read various accounts of individuals encountering God, or in the midst of a trial of their faith in God. In each account, one thing becomes noticeable. The act of stepping out in faith to see what God will do. This thought occurred as I started re-reading Jim Cymbala’s book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. Pastor Cymbala recounts the beginning of his pastoral ministry in New York:
By early 1971 he [Carol’s father, Reverend Clair Hutchins] was seriously suggesting that perhaps God wanted us in full-time Christian service.
“There’s a Church in Newark that needs a pastor,” he commented one day. “They’re precious people. Why don’t you think about quitting your job and stepping out in faith to see what God will do?”
In the Book of Mormon, we read the following account where Lehi receives instructions from the Lord to go back to the Land and obtain the Brass Plates. In response, Nephi says:
…I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the things which he commandeth them. (See 1 Nephi 3:1-7)
The confidence of assurance that the way is prepared for us to accomplish is something that ought to motivate us. We may not know how, understand in what manner, or have any idea of where to begin is a none issue. What is important is knowing that God will provide for us as we step out in faith. And this is a very difficult task for us to do. Fear and trepidation of the unknown. We tend to shrink back with excuses. For Pastor Cymbala, his excuses were I am not qualified, I have no idea how to be a pastor. We murmur and complain the way Laman and Lemuel complained that going back to retrieve the plates from Laban is a hard thing … required of them.
In speaking with the multitude, the Savior shared how he is the Bread of Life, utilizing how YHWH provided for the Ancient Israelites Manna during their sojourn in the wilderness. When he had finished his discourse, they responded to what Christ taught as being a hard saying (See John 6:22-69).
Today, we are faced with enormous sets of challenges. People are broken, destitute, lost, confused, angry and carrying resentment, discouraged and in some way defeated. We either turn to God in humility because of our weakness, or we turn away from God because of our pride and resentment toward him. Those who turn to God in this moment realize a simple truth. Pastor Cymbala realized it as well:
I discovered an astonishing truth: God is attracted to weakness. he can’t resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need him. Our weakness, in fact, makes room for his power.
In order to ignite a fresh and vital faith in God, we do well to step out in faith by being faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord (See 1 Nephi 3:16). How does one ignite this fresh wind and fire of faith in our lives? Pastor Cymbala recounts a fishing trip in Florida where he prayed and heard from God:
We had to have a visitation of the Holy Spirit, or bust. “Lord, I have no idea how to be a successful pastor,” I prayed softly out there on the water. “I haven’t been trained. All I know is that Carol and I are working in the middle of New York City, with people dying everyday on every side, overdosing from heroin, consumed by materialism, and all the rest. If the gospel is so powerful…”
I couldn’t finish the sentence. … Then quietly but forcefully, in words heard not with my ear but deep within my spirit, I sensed God speaking:
If you and your wife will lead my people to pray and call upon my name, you will never lack for something fresh to preach.
Pastor Cymbala, upon returning back to New York to pastor his Church, presented this new insight into how the church will move forward:
From this day on, the prayer meeting will be the barometer of our church. What happens on Tuesday night will be the gauge by which we will judge success or failure because that will be the measure by which God blesses us. If we call upon the Lord, he has promised in his Word to answer … to pour out his Spirit among us.
Prayer, therefore is the greatest tool one has in their arsenal to step out in faith. The very act of praying is a step of faith in believing God will answer. It is the foundation of truth to an authentic Christian Lifestyle. Without prayer, our sense of Christian identity, values and principles may falter and leave us devastated – to the point of one abandoning God.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14, we read:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
In Doctrine and Covenants, we find this truth: And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life.
What is the take away from this?
Stepping out in faith begins with praying and patience in knowing God will not only answer, he will provide
Stepping out in faith requires confidence and assurance in knowing there is provisions for us to accomplish those things we are called to accomplish by God.