John Bradshaw - The Leap of Faith
This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me. Now, I never did see the television program, but I was told about it. A race of some kind, I think, around the world, people in pairs, so two people at a time, combining to progress through various stages. Now, at this stage in the TV program, the pairs were in the Bahamas at a resort, and what they had to do there was slide down a waterslide, one of those steep ones, the ones sort of thrill-seekers like.
Now, you know, they're over in a moment. It doesn't take long. It's not all that steep. You get butterflies in your stomach. But people do it all day long. No one ever comes to harm. Except...the guy and his girlfriend were at the top of the waterslide, and she wouldn't slide. Even though it meant that they would not be in the running to win a million dollars, she wouldn't slide. He pleaded with her. He cajoled her. He coaxed her. But she just wouldn't do it. If she slid down the slide, they'd still be in the running for a million dollars. If she didn't, they'd be out of the race. They were out of the race, on their way home, no longer contending for the million dollars.
Now, I know there are times you come up against your fears, whatever they may be. But there are times when, in order to get something done, you need to take a leap of faith, and that's what I'm going to do today. No, I'm not going to go down a waterslide. In fact, I've ridden that same waterslide I told you about a moment ago. I've yet to meet a waterslide that I wouldn't ride. This? Tougher. I mean, much tougher. This is going to require me to make a leap of faith. An actual leap of faith.
When you come to the Bible, you see example after example of faith. In fact, the Bible says that salvation comes "by grace... through faith". So faith is a prerequisite for everlasting life. The book of Hebrews says that "without faith it is impossible to please [God]". Hebrews 11, verse 6. So faith is utterly essential. So we're going to find out what faith is, and maybe what it isn't. Forty-five minutes from the It Is Written ministry headquarters, just outside Chattanooga, Tennessee, there's a place called the Lookout Mountain Flight Park. Now, first, let's consider some of the great stories of faith before we take a leap of faith.
If you wanted to read about faith, you'd go to Hebrews 11, where we read about the heroes of faith. Hebrews 11 is like the Hall of Fame for people of faith. We could call it "the Hall of Faith". The chapter starts with these words: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen". Which tells us something. Faith is what allows you to have something you might currently only hope for. It's what provides evidence for you of things that you cannot see. Let me say that again. Faith allows you to say, "I'm only hoping for it, but I believe I have it," and, "I don't see it, but I believe I have it". In Hebrews 11, verse 2, we read that by faith "the elders obtained a good testimony". The men of old were attested to by faith.
I'll give you an example of that. You can have great faith, saving faith, strong faith. It's easier than you might think. Remember the story of Moses sending the 12 spies to see what the Promised Land was like? They were told to bring back a report of what they saw, which they did, and didn't. Moses said to them, "See what the land is like: [see] whether the people... are strong or weak, [whether they are] few or many; [see if] the land... is good or bad..." and so on. And he told them to bring back "some of the fruit of the land". Numbers 13:27 says, "Then they told him, and said: 'We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is [the] fruit.'" Now, that was, so far, faith. "Go and look," Moses said, "and come back and tell me what you saw".
Up until this point, that's what they had done. But then, then they say, "Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan". In other words, we've gone from informing you of what we saw to interpreting what we saw. They already had God's promise that He would drive the inhabitants of the land out of there. They didn't need to worry themselves with what seemed possible or what seemed impossible from a human viewpoint. They just needed to tell the facts. Faith would have said, "This is what we saw, and God is going to work it out," for the simple fact that God had promised to work it out for them.
Now Numbers 13, verse 30 and on: "Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, 'Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.' But the men who had gone up with him said, 'We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.' And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out". And so continued the downward spiral that ultimately saw the children of Israel spend 40 years in the wilderness, a year for every day the spies were gone.
So where do we see faith in this story? Joshua and Caleb believed God against the odds, against all appearances. Contrary to how things seemed, they simply believed God. They believed that God could deliver the Promised Land into their hands. Here they were on the borders of Canaan, and Joshua and Caleb simply believed that God could do what He said He would do, and that was faith, believing that God would do what He said He would do, simply because He said it. In other words, taking God at His word and expecting God to do what He says. Faith. That's faith. Now, I said I was going to take a leap of faith today. And this is no joke. It's not something I ever thought I would do, but I'm going to do it. Wish me well. I'll be back in just a moment.
Thanks for joining me today on It Is Written. So, faith is taking God at His word, expecting God to do what He says He can do, simply because He said it. And I want to give you an idea of what faith looks like. When I wore a younger man's clothes, I promised myself that I would do a parachute jump. I never did, and I don't know if I ever would. But one thing I never promised myself I would do was to hang glide.
Now, it looks like a ton of fun. You've seen people way up there soaring like a bird, flying high above the countryside. The view has to be spectacular. Well, just outside Chattanooga is Lookout Mountain, and up on Lookout Mountain you'll find Lookout Mountain Flight Park, where people hang glide. And someone suggested to me, "Maybe you'd like to go hang gliding". And I said, "No". And they said, "Why not"? And I said, "Because... no". But then I thought about it. People do it all the time. It's relatively safe. It'd have to be incredible. Now, it's hard to ignore the danger aspect, that's true. But think about this with me. In the United States about 40 people die every year skiing. About 100 people die every year in hunting accidents. And then, think about cycling and swimming, very significant fatalities every year, and yet people do them all the time.
Now, I'm not doing this because I think it's dangerous. I'm doing it because it'll be awesome, it'll be exhilarating, and because I genuinely believe I'm going to be okay. And why do I believe I'm going to be okay? So, how long have you been doing this?
Adrian Sanchez: Been flying for 11 years.
John Bradshaw: How many times have you flown? I mean, guess for me. How many, how many flights does that equate to?
Adrian Sanchez: Been doing three to five hundred times per year.
John Bradshaw: That's thousands of times. So, to a greater or lesser extent, you're going to teach me to hang glide?
Adrian Sanchez: Absolutely. Yes.
John Bradshaw: Okay. I'm not going to die?
Adrian Sanchez: No, you're not going to die.
John Bradshaw: Why should I, why should I believe you?
Adrian Sanchez: Because I want to keep my reputation clean.
John Bradshaw: All right, that's good. That's a good reason, yeah.
Adrian Sanchez: So, I want to make sure I always say, "You will be safe".
John Bradshaw: So, what is it that's going to ensure that I'm safe?
Adrian Sanchez: I'm not going to let you go unless I know it's safe for you to, to go. And I explained to you the basics of the flight.
John Bradshaw: So, if I do what you tell me, listen to you, follow instructions...
Adrian Sanchez: Follow instructions, yes.
John Bradshaw: ...I should be okay?
Adrian Sanchez: You should be fine. Absolutely. Yes.
John Bradshaw: Which sounds a whole lot like faith. When it comes to faith, we listen to what God says and trust that He'll do what He says He can do. Now, I'm fully aware that my friends at Lookout Mountain Flight Park aren't God, but the principle remains the same. I'm going to do what they say, and trust. Trust that it's all going to be okay. So, is this blind faith? No, because there's this track record they have of proven success. This is what they do. This works. They do this all the time.
There are lots and lots of people who can say, "I did it. I followed the instructions. I followed the procedures and the protocols. I did all those things, and it worked out". Well, that was cool. You know something, it's interesting how little you actually think when you're up there, uh, and maybe from another perspective, how much you think. Um, it's easy to get into the air and then forget some of the most important things that you were told. And what I discovered is this: The more I remember what I was told and think about that and do just what I was told, the better things work out. It's a little bit like faith. And we'll talk about that a little more. What a great experience. You're up there in the air soaring and think to yourself, "Wow, I'm actually flying". Not that I was flying flying. It's when you get up there that you're flying, but, get up off the ground, a little wind beneath the wing, and it was great. Listen to the teacher; things go really well. Kind of think you know how to do it yourself and do your own thing? Not so well.
Megan Friesen: Man, the first time running off the hillside to hang glide, it was far more frightening than I actually thought it was going to be, and I didn't put my trust in the equipment, and clung just way too tight, and so it wasn't a successful takeoff, but it was because I was, yeah, I got nervous, and I didn't trust my equipment or myself. I think it says that, uh, it's important to put your trust, you know, where your trust needs to be, and, and to believe in what's carrying you forward.
John Bradshaw: Or is this a reckless faith? No, it isn't that, but it's important to remember that there are plenty of people in the Bible who stepped out in faith and walked right into the eye of a storm. So I'm going hang gliding. Back to Hebrews, chapter 11: "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain". That's verse 4. Abel had faith. And we know how that turned out. Verse 7 mentions Noah. Faith in God led Noah to go on the ride of his life. There had to have been moments when Noah wondered if he would get off that ark alive, moments when his family came to him and said, "What were you thinking"?
You see, faith can be a messy business. Don't make the mistake of thinking that because faith in God led you into some difficult situations that faith was the wrong option. Faith doesn't equal Easy Street. Hebrews 11 talks about Abraham who, "when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance," and "he went out not knowing where he was going". Hebrews 11, verse 8. Which wasn't pleasant and wasn't easy. Later, Abraham was asked to sacrifice his own son. "By faith Moses" chose "to suffer affliction with the people of God [rather] than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin".
Faith led him to suffer affliction. You get the picture. Faith can be challenging. Faith doesn't take away the heat. It doesn't remove the stress. Faith doesn't cancel uncertainty. What it does, though, is it states that you're trusting God to be true to His word, regardless of the circumstances. And what is faith? Trusting that the Word of God will do what it says it will do because it says so. Now, about that leap of faith, I'm ready to go. You don't want to miss this. I'll be right back.
John Bradshaw: Thanks for joining me today on It Is Written. So, here I am getting ready to go hang gliding. And it seems to me that this exercise would be a very good object lesson of what faith is. In life, a believer learns to listen to the voice of God and follow what God says, because God is God. God knows best. God is full of wisdom. God has your best interests in mind. Faith is hearing the word of God and following that, rather than following doubt or fear or the crowd. I'll give you a for-instance, a simple one and an obvious one. The Bible says that "in the beginning God created". The prophets referenced Creation. Jesus talked about Creation. The book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible, like the first book in the Bible, talks about Creation. According to the Bible it's a done deal: God created the world. But some people say humans evolved and that the world came into existence as the result of the Big Bang.
And then you'll have people who ask the very logical question, "How could God create the world out of nothing"? Now, is my faith in the Creation account of the Bible just blind faith? No, it's not. Because the Bible demonstrates to me again and again that I can trust it. Prophecy suggests I can. The biblical record suggests I can, as do history and archaeology. They all make it clear that my faith in the Bible is well-founded. For me to believe something that isn't in the Bible, now, that would be a lack of faith, because in order to do that, I would have to reject what God says and believe something that is outside the Bible over that which is in the Bible. And that's not faith. So you can believe evolution. You can believe the Flood never happened, you can believe there was no virgin birth, you can believe Jesus did not die on the cross, but you cannot then claim to have faith. Faith is believing the Word of God and acting on it.
Now, before you say, "Well, he, he's not hang gliding. He's going with somebody else. I thought he was going to fly on his own". Now, hold on a minute. Here's what I'm doing. I'm connecting myself to someone else and I'm trusting someone else to get me through this in one piece and get me down safely. And that is what faith is. It's connecting yourself to Somebody else and trusting that Somebody else to get you through. That's how it works.
Adrian Sanchez: How do you feel?
John Bradshaw: Okay.
Adrian Sanchez: Are you ready?
John Bradshaw: Yeah, I'm ready.
Adrian Sanchez: Okay. We're going to count one, two, three and lift off, okay?
John Bradshaw: Yep.
Adrian Sanchez: All right, uh, let's see. Check. One, two, three! Go, go, go, go, go, go! Woo-hoo!
John Bradshaw: Wow! Wow! Oh yeah, man! And off we went. It was exhilarating. There was this moment of, man, are we actually going to stay up here? And then you realize that, yes, you're actually going to stay up here. And you settle in and enjoy the scenery. Oh, man. Awesome. And that's what faith is like. I heard someone once say that faith grows by conflict with doubt. Doubt would suggest you pull back. But faith sees that doubt, recognizes that doubt, and forges on because there's something greater than doubt. That's the Word of God.
So what are you wrestling with? Where is God asking you to take a leap of faith? Now, it might be that God is calling you to, let's say, serve as a missionary in some far-flung country, and you think about that, you say, "I'd kind of love to, except that, I don't know where my support is coming from. How could I bear to be away from home so long? There are so many details that I don't know how to figure out". But, then you remember that it's God who is calling you, and you realize that if God is calling you, then He's able to work it out for you.
Now, not too many people are being called to be missionaries in a foreign country, but it makes my point. So maybe it's different for you. Maybe God is speaking to you about your finances. Maybe God is asking you to tithe, and you're saying, "I don't know if I can afford to do that". But you read in the Bible where God says that if you're faithful to Him with your finances, He will "open up the windows of heaven and pour out [so much] blessing that you won't have room enough to receive it [all]". Faith says, "I don't see it, but I'll trust God". And you'll see that God is true to His word. "Faith is...the evidence of things not seen". Or, it might be that God is asking you to give Him your heart. And you're wondering what your family or friends will say or what life will look like if you give your life over to God.
And then you read the Bible, and you see that God promises to bless you and guide you and uphold you and fill your life with His presence. And faith says, faith says, "I'll trust God. I'll follow His leading. I'll stand on His Word". And that's faith. And your life changes, and you won't ever be the same again. You'll be redeemed, saved, transformed, on a new path, living a new life, a life with an eternal future. God offers you so much. He offers you forgiveness of your sins. He offers you the righteousness of Jesus, adoption into heaven's family. God offers you so much, and you can have it. You can have it all by faith. Take that leap of faith. It's the most reasonable thing that you could ever do.
Let me pray for you now:
Our Father in heaven, we are thankful today for the gift of faith. I pray You'll grow our faith. And right now there's someone who needs to make a leap of faith. Perhaps they're wrestling with relocating, something to do with health or finance or service, a career change, a relationship. Whatever it is, dear Lord, I'm encouraging You to place within us that faithfulness to follow You and trust in You. Someone right now is teetering on the brink of trusting You. Or there's someone teetering on the brink of walking away from You because they're wondering how they can be a person of faith right now. Father in heaven, direct us to You. Remind us again that faith is trusting You and believing that You will do what only You can do, even for me. Thank You for faith, and thank You, Lord, for being so faithful. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.