Let us consider the well known phrase: It’s not how you start but how you finish.
Hebrews 11 is a record of some of the old patriarchs and their walk of great faith. In this chapter their lives are compressed into a few verses declaring great exploits, but not their failures. Consider the lives of Abraham and Sarah. If we read their full history in Genesis, we find the peaks and troughs they worked through were endless, as their faith was being tried and proved. Their unbelief birthed Ishmael before Isaac, the proper child, the child of promise, was birthed of God. Abraham lied to King Abimelech in fear, (Genesis 20), declaring Sarah, his wife, was his sister. Genesis 18 records Sarah laughing in unbelief at the prophetic word that she would bare Abraham a son in her old age. She then went on to deny the fact that she had laughed. These are just some of their failures they had to work through and learn from…..but….”It’s not how they started, it’s how they finished”, and so it is for us.
If we only read Hebrews 11 and think we can swing into the position of great faith without it being tried, we are naive. The peaks and troughs of life are part of our journey. Sometimes I need a reality check under the Holy Spirit’s spotlight, to find where I really am in God. The true test of where I really am in my walk with the Lord, and the test of my faith, is to review where I am at my lowest moment, (not my highest). Have I arrived at the place where at my lowest moment, I encourage myself in God? Or do I become distressed at my circumstances, listen to my complaining heart that wants to over rule what God has said, and make Him a liar? This is the treason of an unruly heart. When my heart is overwhelmed, I need to learn to flee to the ” Rock that is higher than I”, Psalm 61.
When we read scripture’s record of King David’s life, we see great numbers of peaks and troughs in his circumstances. Through them he learned to cry out to the Lord in his distress and prove God – the trial of his faith. (1 Samuel 30 is a great demonstration of this, when David’s distressed company of men wanted to stone him, at Ziklag.) It is a great position to be in when we have other members of the Body to encourage and support us when we are low, but there will be times when the Lord will permit me to be completely alone, shut in with Him. Here I must encourage myself in God – a more difficult test, but one that has the sweetest rewards as I discover the sweetness of His presence in my dire circumstance. At the appointed time, God will release me from that passage when the work has been done in my heart, when I have unconditionally surrendered and the life of Jesus manifests in my life. I have proved Him to be who He says He is. Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man, that he should repent: Has he said and shall he not do it? or has he spoken , and shall he not make it good?”
Hebrews 11:6 reminds us: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him”.
Peter brings further revelation expounding that our faith has to be tried in the fire of life’s circumstances: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ”. The trial of our faith is a very precious thing in God’s sight. We need to remember how God views it when we are struggling. Let us embrace the struggle instead of resisting it. My perspective must be surrendered and exchanged for His. This is where the gold for the glory of God is produced. I lose my identity in Him, I am no longer seen, but Christ lives in me! The trial of our faith is a glorious passage when I learn to surrender.
Have I even seen the much more of God with spiritual eyes? “..Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for those that love him”. 1 Corinthians 2:9
Let us encourage ourselves in the faithfulness of God. He has promised never to leave nor forsake us as we journey with Him through the peaks and troughs of life. The work He began in us, He will finish: “Being CONFIDENT of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”. Philippians 1:6
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish!