I was discussing one such project with a friend, and he was telling me his ideas. He’s the type of person who thinks big and long-term—he’s definitely not scared off by the prospects of hard work or risks. In fact, for him, the bigger and crazier, the better. As he was laying out his plan, I automatically started feeling overwhelmed. When my eyes glazed over, he noticed.
“Well …” I stammered, trying to look supportive, “it’s a good plan, but it seems a bit big, a bit overwhelming to me.”
“You know, everything seems to overwhelm you right now. Maybe you just need a bit more faith.”
That rang true, though I didn’t want to admit it.
When I talked to the Lord about it later, He confirmed that I was a bit of a wimp faith-wise. Then He gave me the following three-step faith-building plan:
1. Feed my faith. Just like my body can’t survive on a diet of junk food or an occasional good meal, my faith won’t survive, much less thrive, unless I’m faithful to take in good spiritual food.1 When my heart is full of God’s promises, my faith won’t be easily shaken.
2. Strengthen my faith. Faith doesn’t grow when everything is comfortable, when all my needs are supplied, when I can handle the work on my own, or when I know what’s ahead. I do fine under those circumstances; it’s when things get difficult, when I can’t carry the load myself, when I have to hand things over to God and trust Him to do what I can’t, that’s when my faith is strengthened. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”2 As I depend on God and put my trust in His promises, my faith will become stronger.
3. Stretch my faith. Once my faith has been strengthened, it’s time to step out to do some things that seem overwhelming. In other words, get out of my comfort zone. Once again, faith doesn’t have the chance to grow when everything is flowing along as usual. Sometimes difficulties and challenges come along on their own, but if I really want my faith to grow, I need to choose to try new things; I need to choose to be challenged; I need to choose to be stretched.
In the Bible, some people were put in difficult situations where they were forced to stretch their faith, but others took the initiative because they expected bigger things from God, and He came through for them. Some of the most incredible stuff took place when people stepped out by faith and did something that seemed crazy to everyone else.
For example, one time Jesus’ disciples were in a boat several miles from shore, when Jesus went to them, walking on the water. That was a great miracle, and it strengthened the disciples’ faith. But then Peter took a literal step of faith, out of the boat onto the water, going to Jesus. Peter didn’t haveto do that, but I’m sure it was a massive boost to his faith when he also walked on the water, if only for a moment.3
So, what’s the point of stronger faith? Jesus said that faith the size of a tiny mustard seed could do great things. Sometimes that’s all we can muster—faith the size of a mustard seed—but at those times He’ll use what we’ve got. I think, though, that He doesn’t want our faith to stay that tiny. I think He expects our faith to grow as we see Him come through for us time after time.
God’s got big plans for each of us, and He brings situations our way to prepare us for those plans. However, it takes faith to step out, to take action, to start building on what God wants for us. If we hold back until everything seems safe, we may miss out.
One definition of faith is “confidence or trust in another’s ability.” Faith is knowing that we ourselves are incapable, but still doing what God asks of us because we trust in His ability to work through us. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.”4 “[Jesus] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’”5
1. See Romans 10:17.
2. Proverbs 3:5–6 NLT
3. See Matthew 14:22–32.
4. 2 Corinthians 3:5
5. 2 Corinthians 12:9