While on a mission trip to Siberia in 1991, I slipped on wet cobblestone and tore a ligament in my ankle. The pastors leading the group noticed it and grounded me at the hotel for a few days. I was miserable. I felt homesick and wondered why God allowed me to travel across the world to sit on a small bed and look out the window.
The following day a teenager knocked at my door and introduced his father as a doctor. He told me that the pastor had called him to look at my foot. I agreed and allowed them into the room. The doctor informed me that he needed an X-ray to check for broken bones.
I admit I was scared. Traveling outside of the hotel room with two people I never met and a few Russian words under my belt was a scary thought. But I also knew that sitting in my room would burden my team and render me useless.
So, I went forward in faith and followed the men to the hospital. Later, I would look at the situation as a foolish act or a progression in faith. Either way, I knew God had a hand in this situation.
At the hospital, I noticed a line of people sitting shoulder to shoulder against a wall. Hovering over them were men dressed in white, with chef hats propped on their heads. I thought for sure we had entered into the kitchen staff entrance.
The young man ushered me to a small office. Posted on the wall was a gigantic poster of Farah Fawcett wearing a bikini. A pang of nervousness came to me as a chef examined my ankle. After speaking with the doctor and his son, they informed me that I had a torn ligament. They would wrap my ankle so I could walk and give me a shot for the pain.
My heart rate quickened. Why does a chef know if I need a shot? How sanitary were these facilities? I finally got a hold of the teenager and waited for him to stop giggling to tell me that the man who examined me was a doctor and not a cook. “All the doctors wear those hats.” He was equally surprised when I told him that the cooks in our restaurants wore the same attire.
I remember my first aid training and talking to nurses about the importance of sterile needles. Now, receiving a shot in my bottom from a man who brought his Farah poster to work didn’t sit well with me. But again, I chose to trust that God had a hand in this situation.
In his sermon entitled, “Faith!” Charles Haddon Spurgeon says, “Fear says to God, ‘I don’t know you.’ But true faith gives us courage for all circumstances.”
Many people will say that faith is a matter of trust, which is true. We trust the food we eat, which is grown on farms by people we’ve never met. We take the prescriptions that the Pharmacists give us, hoping they provided us with the right pills. We also trust that when we apply the brakes in our cars, the vehicle will stop on cue.
But faith is more than trust. It’s an act of will, or shall I say, a behavior change. Hebrews 11 says that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
We are never assured of anything until we are familiar with the object or subject of that faith. In other words, if I drive my car for five years without disruption, I have faith it will turn on because I am acquainted with the vehicle. But if it doesn’t start or the wheels fall off while I’m driving, my behavior changes, and I start treating it with suspicion.
But that isn’t so with God because He is immutable, unchanging. James 1:17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (emphasis mine) In Malachi 3:6, God says, “For I, the Lord, do not change.”
Somedays, it is impossible to understand God’s character of immutability. Our society changes its morality with every president elected. Those who are the most outspoken now dictate societal norms and attempt to change our behavior. But we know God, and the Bible tells us that He is steadfast, constant, trustworthy, and whole-heartily ready to pour out His grace for every situation.
Continuing in his sermon on Faith, Spurgeon says, “We thought the water very cold when we first ventured in. But having tried it to the ankle, we have found it good and pleasant. Let us advance until we are breast-deep—yes, and even deeper. Blessed is the man who gets his feet off the bottom and swims in the stream where he has no hope but His God. And has no help or a helper, except the invisible one who sustains all things. Faith cries out, ‘Trust me. Take more initiative, be more daring.’ Trust me and go with prudence to the darkest haunts and vice. The air says to the eagle, ‘Trust me. Spread your broad wings, and I will lift you to the sun.’”
It’s time to take the initiative in a situation and step forward in faith. There is nothing that God cannot see you through and help you learn to trust Him more.