Radical Faith

Have you ever noticed that when you are in tune with God, He shows you things you never would have thought about on your own? I am noticing it more and more as time goes on.

As I have been praying about what I need to be doing in life, to bring glory to God, He has brought something and someone amazing to mind. Let me talk to you about a person who truly has radical faith. First though I need to share two stories with you that God brought to me while I was praying for this person and how He showed me this man’s radical faith.

Have you ever heard the story of Abraham and Isaac? It is told in Genesis 22:1-19

Abraham Tested
22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

So there are some things that really stand out to me when this was brought to me while in prayer: one thing is Abraham had one son, Isaac. Abraham was told to take Isaac and to make him a burnt offering to God. Abraham didn’t beg and plead with God. Abraham didn’t question what God’s motives were for this. He just knew that God was telling him that Isaac had to be a sacrifice and Abraham was going to follow through.

Another thing that stuck out to me was that Isaac didn’t question what Abraham was doing. Yes, he mentions that there was no lamb but when Abraham responds with God will provide it, he just kept on trusting Abraham and God.

That last thing that really stuck out to me was once Abraham and Isaac were up on the mountain, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood. Abraham then bound Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. He was about to kill his son when Abraham was stopped by the angel. Even as I write this I am struck by the fact that Abraham just kept on moving forward. He was going to kill his only child, his only son. Not only that but Isaac allowed his father to bound him, place him on top of the altar and wood knowing what his father was about to do. Isaac didn’t try to run away. Isaac didn’t try to talk Abraham out of it. Isaac just knew and had faith in both his father and God. He trusted that whatever was to come, was what needed to be done.

Have you ever heard the story of Jesus calling his first disciples? It is told in Matthew 4:18-22

Jesus Calls His First Disciples

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Fishermen were not poor, ignorant men during Jesus’ time. I had no idea until a few years ago that fishermen were not poor. I am not sure why I thought this all these years, but I did. It was a few years ago that my pastor explained how wealth they actually were. That they were truly smart, knew multiple languages and were truly not just fishermen, they were businessmen.

(We have a surprisingly good picture of the scale of Simon Peter and Andrew’s fishing operation. They worked in partnership (Lk.5:7) with James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Lk.5:10), who had employees (Mk.1:20). They were free to start (Jn.21:1-3) and stop work (Lk.5:11) when it suited them. The impression that they were men of substance who controlled their own lives is confirmed by the quality of their house at Capernaum. Known as the House of Peter since the fourth century, it is larger than most of the other houses excavated in Capernaum. But that is not all. Although no evangelist was interested in providing his readers with a detailed picture of the families of Jesus’ disciples or of their business practices, we can read between the lines. Given the average size of families at the time, it seems very likely that more of the family must have been involved in the fishing business on the Sea of Galilee than just Simon Peter and Andrew, and the family income would have been proportionally greater than that of two men working alone. Against this background of a relatively well-off family, it becomes possible to understand how Simon Peter and Andrew were financially able to drop their work and become, first, disciples of John the Baptist (Jn.1:40-42) and then disciples of Jesus.)

Now let me tell you about this person, Daran. You see Jack and I met almost eleven years ago now. We met in a bar and we met because of Daran. I had been going out with friends to this place and singing karaoke on Friday and Saturdays when I did not have the boys. I had been doing this every other weekend for about three months. Then near the end of December, Daran and Jack showed up.

Let’s fast forward a little bit. I got back to God. I got back to going to church. I got back to Bible study. I got back to feeling peace and knowing that everything was going to be okay. That led me to a place though that meant I was not having out with Jack and his friends on a regular basis.

There was nothing against any of them. I prayed for them and loved them where they were at, but I knew I could easily fall back into drinking and making bad choices if I was around them often. So I did what I did best, avoided them. I did not prevent Jack from being around them and doing things with them, I just often made the choice not to be involved.

Now fast forward even further and Daran made some serious changes in his lift last year. He gave up the partying, the drinking and he truly sought Jesus and having a relationship with him. I knew somethings were changing in his life, but I didn’t really know what was going on. Jack never really shared what was going on, just that his marriage fell apart, and he was changing.

Jack would go check on him to make sure he was okay. Jack would hang out with him but I still didn’t know what was going on in Daran’s life. That is until July of this year. Daran was celebrating one year of sobriety and we went to support him as a family. The kids swam in the pool. There was some cornhole played. There was a cookout. It was a good day.

Now fast forward again to current times. Daran is working on putting together a non-profit organization to help people. Those people currently are middle to high schoolers. He has been coming on Friday nights and helping with my kids and Brit’s kids. He has been bringing kids to Friday nights. We have been spending more time together in the last few months than in the past eleven years of me knowing him.

I have been praying for him and for his mission. I have said a few times to Jack that he has more courage than I do. You see a long time ago (when I actually figured it out, it has been about 22 years since I started to have this thought) a local business went out of business. Knowing the problems I had created for myself as a teen, I knew there was a lot of room on the NE end of town for a place for teens to go after school. A place for them to be able to hang out, a place for them to be mentored, a place for them to do school work and get help, a place for them to find themselves and to see where their life could go if they made right choices. (At that time, I was not so Focus on God being in it, over the years He has come into that vision).

It isn’t really courage though. He has radical faith. He is Abraham. He is Isaac. He is Peter, James and John.

I was praying for Daran and these are the images, the stories that God brought to my mind. Daran has this blind faith. He is doing what God is asking him to do and he isn’t questioning it. He gave up a six figure (I’m guessing) income to make pennies compared to before. He is putting his home up for sale knowing that if he is offered this number he is selling it and if he doesn’t get an offer with a specific number he will hold onto it until later.

He is moving forward not truly knowing where God is taking him. He is praying. He is listening. He has made Jesus his best friend and he is doing what is asked of him. He doesn’t question. He has no clue what is going to come next. He doesn’t know if his house is going to sell. He doesn’t know anything and yet he has this radical faith that God is going to be right there with him because God asked him to do these things for Him!

I have never in my life known anyone who is like this. I have never know a person who is so in love, so on fire, so trusting, so radical in their relationship with Christ.

Have you really ever known anyone who was asked to give it all up like Abraham, Isaac, Peter, James and John? Have you really ever known anyone who was not only asked to give it all up but then proceeded to do exactly what was requested of them? I can say I have not, until now.

You may be thinking currently if radical faith requires you to give up your job, sell your house, and form a non-profit you have no desire to have radical faith. That is really what it means though. Having radical faith is about having a relationship with God and being the unique you He created you to be. It is about your relationship and doing what is asked of you.

For you to have radical faith, it may mean God asking you to smile at the grumpy lady in the grocery store. It may mean mowing your neighbors lawn even when you don’t want to. It may mean turning the television off and spending 30 minutes with Christ, alone! It may mean picking up the phone for the call you really don’t want to take because it means you are going to be asked to do something you don’t want to do.

For you to have radical faith, it means that you have to have a relationship with Christ so you know when He is asking you to do something and then doing it. Radical faith isn’t about giving it all up, it is about a relationship with God, trusting in what He is asking you to do in the moment and actually following through and doing it.

I have been asked many things by God and there have been many things I haven’t done. I can’t say I follow through on my radical faith all the time, but I can say I am praying for someone who currently is!

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