Friday, January 27, 2017

Substance and Evidence

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  
 (Hebrews 11:1)

This is one of the first verses I memorized as a child.  It has been a source of inspiration and hope all my life.  I have to admit, though, looking back on my ‘relationship’ with this verse, it’s almost like I omitted the words ‘substance’ and ‘evidence.’  The verse came to me more like “Faith is…things hoped for, …things not seen.”  That’s where my focus was; on the things hoped for and the things not seen.

As a result, my approach to faith was actually misguided and stunted.  I saw faith as something wholly intangible.  I suppose, in the context of the material world it is invisible, emotional, esoteric, ethereal – and in our modern scientific milieu it is therefore less worthy of prolonged consideration.  Not sure why this is true, when I think about it, because there are invisible gases that can kill you; and microscopic bacteria that can kill you.  Important parts of our daily lives, such as electricity and radio waves, are invisible. Nevertheless, in general, and I do not think I am alone in this, anything one cannot perceive directly with the commonly accepted “five senses” is relegated to the realm of superstition and pixie dust.  We don’t have reliable “hand-held” means to measure, capture, study, or deconstruct faith.

Still, faith is clearly a mandatory component of life for all who profess belief in the Creator; i.e., YHVH Elohim, who spoke the world into existence.  Yeshua valued faith, and even considered it something measurable.  How many times did he say to his disciples, “O, ye of little faith.”  He declared that one who has faith the size of a mustard seed will be able to accomplish miraculous deeds.

“…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)

“If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.”  (Luke 17:6)

Most of us have conceived of faith as being about knowing (in the sense of abstract knowledge, not empirical experience or fact-based affirmation), or giving mental assent to something.  We have equated it with belief.  A sweet and precious gift, but really hard to grasp, to explain, to understand, to share, or to act upon.  We have been taking faith on faith.  Hoping that our faith was real, but usually wondering if it was enough.

Recently, I read a meditation by Jonathan Cahn, in his “Book of Mysteries,”** that has caused me to see Hebrews 11:1 (and many other verses about faith) in a whole new light.  Jonathan Cahn explains how faith – emunah in Hebrew – carries the meaning of “steadfast, established, stable, and steady.”  This turned my thinking about faith almost entirely on its head.  With great clarity, I realized I had been keeping my understanding about faith inside a crude homemade box that prevented it from being seen, appreciated, and used rightly.

Mainly, I suddenly realized that Hebrews 11:1 actually states that “Faith is substance, and evidence.”  I wish there was a stunning visual way (other than ridiculous emojis) to express my wide-eyed, visceral response to the sudden flip that happened in my mind.  Faith instantaneously went from being “hoped for” and “unseen” to being “substance” and “evidence.”  What?

It is right there as plain as day!  I cannot tell you how many of these types of events have happened to me in the past ten years or so.  Passages I had read dozens, if not hundreds, of times – or, as in this case, actually memorized – were suddenly opened up to me in stark ways that were undeniable.

Now, I confess, this new look at faith is such a recent and startling discovery that I am still reeling a bit, and processing.  But I am excited!  How will this new understanding affect my walk with YHVH?

Over the years of my life, I have seen faith in action many, many times; including what I would call “my” faith; meaning I had faith something was going to happen, and it did.  As a side note, it is OK to take ownership of your faith.  Scripture declares it is a gift, it was given to you; it is now yours to steward and to exercise. See Ephesians 2:8 and 1 Corinthians 12:9.  Furthermore, according to Romans 11:29, it is permanent!  “…for God’s free gifts and his calling are irrevocable.”

YHVH does not give gifts in the manner to which we have become accustomed.  Our gift-giving society has come to view gifts usually as disposable, exchangeable, and more or less temporary.  When you receive something from YHVH it is to be kept, guarded, and cherished, and usually it is to be put to use, to share with others, and to demonstrate his magnificent glory.  He does not enclose a “gift receipt” with his gifts.  Yet another example of the diabolical nature of our English language and our western culture.

The fact that you have given yourself to him, to be his child and to walk with him, means you now possess faith.  It was part of his welcome package to you.  But it is your choice what you do with your faith.  His Word indicates it can be increased.  

Do you want the substance and evidence of your faith to be enlarged?

** IMPORTANT NOTE: I included this link because it relevant excerpts from Jonathan Cahn’s meditation “The Power of Emunah.”  This does NOT necessarily mean I agree with everything on that particular website!


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