By Joy Haney
When Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary, first went to China, he travelled on a sailing vessel. At one point of their journey they came near some cannibal is-lands, and the savages were eagerly anticipating a feast as the ship slowly drifted toward an island.
The captain went to Mr. Taylor and asked him to pray for the help of God. “I will,” said Taylor, “provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.”
The captain declined to make himself a laughing-stock by unfurling in a dead calm. Taylor said, “I will not undertake to pray for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails.” So the captain had the crew unfurl the sails.
While engaged in prayer, there was a knock at the door of his stateroom. “Who is there?” asked Mr. Taylor.
The captain’s voice responded, “Are you still praying for wind?”
“Yes,” answered Mr. Taylor.
“Well,” said the captain, “you’d better stop praying for we have more wind than we can manage.”
That is faith! “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith believes it is done before it is done. Faith is not praying, waiting, and then seeing. Faith is seeing before there is anything to see.
George Mueller of Bristol was known as a man of faith. He had over 25,000 answers to prayer during his lifetime. An event that demonstrates his faith in God happened while he was traveling. He was on board a ship that was bound for Quebec. One foggy day the captain of the ship was on the bridge and George Mueller went to him and said, “Captain, I have come to tell you I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.”
The captain told him it would he totally impossible! George Mueller simply told him that if his ship could not take him to Quebec by Saturday, God would provide another way. He proceeded to tell the captain that he had never broken an engagement in 57 years, and that he would go downstairs to the chart room and begin to pray.
The captain looked at that man of God and thought to himself, “What lunatic asylum can that man have come from, for I never heard of such a thing as this!” “Mr. Mueller,” he said, “do you know how dense this fog is?”
“No,” he replied, “my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God who controls every circumstance of my life.”
The captain’s reflections about the incident was this: “Mr. Mueller knelt down and prayed one of the most simple prayers. When he had finished I was going to pray, but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray.”
“He told me, ‘As you do not believe He will answer, and as I believe He has, there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.'”
George Mueller then told the captain to get up, open the door, and he would find the fog gone. The captain did as he was told. Sure enough, the fog had lifted and Mr. Mueller arrived at Quebec on Saturday.
Faith is not believing that God can, but that God will. It is always a war between faith and doubt. Doubt lurks in the corner of your mind making big the circumstances, whereas faith shows God in His majesty and power. Someone handed me the following poem that says it well.
* Doubt sees the obstacles,
* Faith sees the way!
* Doubt see the darkest night,
* Faith sees the day!
* Doubt dreads to take a step,
* Faith soars on high!
* Doubt questions, “Who believes?”
* Faith answers, “I!”
Faith is believing something into existence. It is sub-stance. It is as real as a tree. Jesus said, “… If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20).
That same seed can become a tree. Jesus spoke about the kingdom of heaven being like a grain of mustard seed, which “…is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches there-of’ (Matthew 13:32). The grain-of-mustard-seed faith can grow into a tree and crowd out all doubt. The branches can go into your whole consciousness and push out the enemies of faith: men’s wisdom and doubt. Paul admonished the church to not stand on men’s wisdom. “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:5).
Jesus showed the power of faith in Matthew 21.
And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever, And presently the fig tree withered away, And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive (Matthew 21:19-22).
Faith works if you just believe like a child. In August 1989 we had started building a new house. One day in October I called the building site and the contractor told me that it was raining hard and all the men were talking about leaving. I told him, “Tell them not to leave yet. I’m going to pray.”
I opened the door and looked up at the rain clouds and said loudly, “Rain, go away in the name of Jesus!” Then I prayed and said, “God, you are God and nothing is impossible with you. Let the rain stop so we can get the things done now that need to be done before winter sets in. God help us.” I kept looking at the sky believing, knowing that the sun was going to break through the clouds. In ten minutes my phone rang and the builder told me that the rain had stopped. I went and looked out again and saw that the sun was beginning to shine through the clouds. I just raised my hands and worshipped the Great God of the universe who heard a sincere prayer in Stockton, California and answered it. Matthew 9:29 was made real to me that day: “According to your faith be it unto you.”
When everything is totally opposite of what you are praying for, faith believes anyhow. Faith is not contingent on what is felt, seen, or heard. It is based on the power of God. Jesus said in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God.” Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.
Faith power works wonders! Jesus’ instructions on faith were simple and to the point. He said,
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith, Therefore I say unto you, What things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them (Mark 11:23-24).
Mouth, heart, and mind all have to speak the same language. If you say, “I am healed” with your lips, but say with your heart, “I might not make it,” you probably will not make it. Faith is not something that you grab once in awhile like a life preserver. It is part of you at all times. It is an attitude. It is more than positive thinking or saying positive things. It is a rock-solid belief that what you pray for, is done. Faith has no questions; it simply believes that nothing is impossible with God!
When Jeremiah was put into prison he wrote these words: “Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17). He believed even though circumstances were against him. Faith is not only a substance, but it is the evidence. What is the evidence?
While Jeremiah was in prison the Lord told him he would have opportunity to buy a piece of property from his cousin. When the cousin came to him and made the deal, Jeremiah bought it.
And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it…So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open: And I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch…And I charged Baruch before them saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel… (Jeremiah 32:10-14).
Jeremiah never saw the property; all he had as proof of his purchase was a piece of paper. This is evidence.
Two thousand years ago, Christ came to earth and gave His life for a ransom for lost humanity. His blood sealed His evidence. When He ascended to glory, He put His evidence in earthen vessels and on a piece of paper–a book, if you will. The earthen vessels are each of us, and the book is called the Bible. We cannot see the evidence inside of us, but it is there as sure as the ocean.
Faith is like this. It is the evidence of things not seen.
The Bible is evidence, but whether we choose to believe the evidence is up to us. We cannot see Christ or heaven, but we have a piece of paper that says it is so.
What will it he? Do we have to have something that our hands can touch in order to believe? Or can we believe simply because He says it is so? Faith is the substance, or that which underlies all outward manifestations. It is the essence of an existent thing. It is the most important part in any existence–the main part. It is solid substantial matter, not visionary or shadowy. It is the basis of determinations of realities.
Faith is the evidence, or the state of being evident, clear, plain, apparent. It is conspicuous proof. In ordinary usage, the word evidence commonly implies more direct or immediate grounds for belief than testimony. What is the evidence? God’s word is the evidence. Let us not obscure it or make it shadowy, but approach it innocently as a child. Jesus said, “…FExcept ye become converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
This article “Faith Is” written by Joy Haney is excerpted from her book Great Faith.