Unfeigned Faith (Part 7)

    Exercising Faith
   by Rayola Kelley 

     As many of you are aware, we have moved to Northern Idaho. One might ask if this was a sudden move on our part. The truth is this move was not sudden, but the door of opportunity to actually relocate proved to be quick. Four years ago, we made some necessary moves to relocate as far as our housing situation. Three years ago we became aware that God was not simply impressing us to move from our present home to another in the Treasure Valley area, but to actually pull up what roots we had and move north.

      As a ministry, we began to see that God was changing direction in what we were doing for His kingdom. He confirmed it by phasing out the various ministries we were involved with and fine tuned our thinking in other ways.

    We began to seek the Lord as to how far north we were too move. We were given a general locality, and as we considered the different towns in northern Idaho, we could see where Coeur d’Alene, Blanchard, and Clark could possibly be in the general vicinity in which we were to relocate. However, after we received a bit of enlightenment about change in ministry, we were met with silence that lasted for three long years.

      During that time period, people who knew about the instruction we had received to move north began to ask us if we really heard correctly. Clearly, we have the examples of Joseph, Moses, and David who had to faithfully endure many years of waiting before they saw a matter through to completion. And, given our humanness, we want a matter completed yesterday. In our weak, fleshly condition it is natural to occasionally venture back to the drawing board and ask the Lord if we had heard right. However, each time He confirmed the calling and brought us to a place of rest.

      At times we would feel overwhelmed about the obstacles that stood in front of us in relocating. Clearly, our moving hinged on the selling of our house, but as we all know, the housing market took a big nose dive. Krista also needed to have a job, and the economic prospects looked bleak in the areas we considered. We also had to have certain needs met to function as a ministry, such as high speed internet. In many of the areas of northern Idaho it is too remote for such luxuries. It was clear from all appearances that if God wanted us to be in Northern Idaho, He had to work some miracles.

        It was during the three years of waiting that we could sense that our faith was being put into the fiery ovens of testing. This testing became more so obvious when we occasionally found ourselves focused on the obstacles before us. This is when we would have to battle the black, dark whirlpools of unbelief. Many times it looked impossible for our present status to change. It was during those times that some would find occasion to mock us for believing that after so many months or years that God had indeed called us north.

     As you now know, God did finally open the door. A young couple serious about buying our house began the negotiation process. This started everything in motion. The Lord also opened up a job for Krista that had His signature all over it. Miraculously we located a house the weekend after Krista’s job was secured, and literally had to pack up everything in two weeks. Waiting may be a long-drawn out process, but once the current of God breaks through the door, everything from that point on will become a big blur. At such times you cannot keep up with the current; thus, you must simply submit to its fast moving pace.

      Usually, I do not mention the stout-hearted people who help us along the way, but due to the enormity of the task, I feel it is only proper to mention the names of these people with great appreciation. Our friend Carrie Seaney actually flew in from the state of Washington to help us to pack up, as well as ensured that we got settled in our new home. Thanks to other friends, Don, Jared, and Katie McCollough and Larry and Maureen Human, we managed to get all of our stuff packed up, and at 9 p.m. on February 23rd, our caravan set off from Nampa to a new location in Priest River, Idaho which is located not far from Blanchard, Idaho. Our plans were to travel as far as Grangeville, Idaho, the first night. Our many Christian friends across America who were aware of our plans to leave on February 23rd, were also aware of the extreme weather conditions that awaited us. They were faithful to pray because every weather report pointed to treacherous conditions. We also owe a debt of gratitude to faithful supporters.

      In the past the Lord has gotten us through many challenges created by the weather. His incredible intervention met us that night as well. We bucked snow a foot deep between Council and New Meadows, Idaho. Our windshields and wipers iced up, but the lower areas, such as Riggins, allowed us time to thaw out enough to face more challenging conditions such as the total whiteout on the infamous White Bird Hill. We arrived in Grangeville at 4 a.m., exhausted and thankful.

      Even though we were planning to make the last trek of our trip on the 24th, the Lord gave us a day off. Due to snow, ice and semi-truck slide offs and roll-overs, there were various road closures along the way. The Lord knew we needed the day to rest before we met the unpredictable road conditions the rest of the way. We not only took advantage of the day by resting, but we also enjoyed fellowship with our dear friends, Howard and Nona Donaldson.

      We arrived at our destination at 5 p.m. on February 25th when the temperature was a “balmy” ten below zero, breaking a record. Thanks to Krista’s father, Tony, and two strong, young Christian men by the names of Patrick and Kyle Mulligan, we managed to get all of our stuff in by Saturday afternoon. Granted, some things were so cold they broke and food items and plants, along with my spackling compound froze, but the strenuous activity of moving kept people from experiencing the full effect of the freezing temperatures.

      Tony and his talented partner, Peggy Beckmeyer, along with Carrie helped us to make the house livable. We not only had to deep clean everything, including the carpets, and paint the house, but the electrical situation had to be fixed along with a host of other things. Then we also had to contend with a flooded garage, where our books, paintings and other stuff was stacked, as the weather warmed.

      It is easy to talk about faith, but to exercise it is a different story altogether. Faith is not exercised when the things of life are going well; rather, it is tested and put into practice when everything around you seems to be going wrong. People have a tendency to think that if they are being obedient to God, all will go well for them. The reality is obedience to God serves as an opportunity for Satan to test our real level of faith. Faith cannot be enlarged or refined unless the fires of adversity are properly applied.

      The truth is we have been in this place at different times during the 20 years we have been involved in ministry. Even though we have seen God move some incredible obstacles out of the way, and regardless of its length the waiting is never easy. In the past we have waited months for the door to open and in the last case three years, but the reality is we have waited for many years to see some matters come to fruition. The truth is only genuine faith towards the abiding eternal faithfulness of God can sustain people during such waiting. Even though God may give you insight about a matter, you will often be met with complete silence. It is during such times you must exercise faith by choosing to believe that God means what He says and will bring it about in due time.

      It is during the silent times of waiting that faith is truly enlarged to embrace the impossible. Hence enters the promise of Isaiah 40:31: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”  We often limit God, not because we do not believe He can do the impossible, but because we have our ideas as to how He will bring it about. In such a state, God becomes an entertainer who is simply into sensationalism and not in the business of bringing to fruition eternal matters.

      Faith can only be experienced when it is being exercised. However, there are two ways in which faith is exercised. It has to do with believing and trusting. Believing involves discipline, while trusting requires action. Believing enables you to abide in faith while waiting for God to open the door, while trusting God enables you to go forward once the door is opened. Believing also allows you to operate in persuasion that a matter is so regardless of whether it has come to fruition, while trusting causes you to walk in confidence towards a matter, knowing that it will come to fruition. It is for this reason trust is always in conjunction with obedience.

      Most people think that exercising faith involves taking steps forward, but initially exercising faith begins with disciplining your walk. It is much like the children of Israel. When the cloud moved, they moved, but when it abided, they would abide. The disciplined ways of faith are necessary to teach a person how to properly discern if it is time to move or not.

      A time of waiting is also a time of preparation. God will not require His people to walk before they are prepared to take on the challenge of the terrain. After all, genuine faith is always met with great adversity. It must experience the purging heat of the wilderness, the extreme cold of lifeless environments, and the insurmountable challenges presented by worldly obstacles.

      The natural tendency of the flesh is to impulsively walk according to a foolish zeal. When the flesh responds to the matters of God, it throws all caution and discernment to the wind and foolishly and ultimately ends up putting God to a test. Keep in mind real faith shows wise restraint until it discerns that a matter is according to God’s perfect timing and plan.

      In Hebrews 11:8 we are told that Abraham was called to a place where he would receive an inheritance. He obeyed, but he did not know where he was really going or where he would eventually end up. We do not know the exact time between when he left Ur and when he stepped into the Promised Land. We know that his initial claim to the land was during a sorrowful time. He bought a burial plot for his beloved wife, Sarah. As you study Abraham’s life, he had to leave the old behind in order to embrace the new. He had to initially believe what God had revealed to him, and learn to trust and follow the leading of His direction to his final destination. We also know he took a detour to Egypt during a famine.

      It is important to point out that Abraham’s initial test of faith was to simply go in the direction ordained by God. However, each point of obedience enlarged him in his faith. When it came time to offer his precious son as a sacrifice, he was prepared to do so in confidence. He had thoroughly been prepared to pass one of the greatest tests of faith recorded in the Bible.

      The other aspect about faith is that the test and lessons that must be learned or reinforced are always the same. Will you believe His Word even though nothing makes sense? Will you trust His character and ways even though nothing is going right? Will you maintain your footing on His eternal promises when wrong seems to be triumphing over righteousness? Or, will you succumb to the overwhelming circumstances that challenge your claims and commitment towards God, allowing unbelief to pull you down into the endless abyss of hopelessness and despair?

      Like all faith experiences, we have clearly been tested. As in the past, we have chosen to remember that God never makes a mistake in the route He leads us. He is able to turn what has been intended for evil into good. We also believe and know that God does all things well. He never has, nor will He ever, make a mistake. He will never leave His people without recourse or a way out. His faithfulness towards us is abiding and sure.

      And, where does faith lead His followers? It is clear they lead to God’s promises coming to fruition. Abraham, along with his descendants, were led to the Promised Land. According to 1 Peter 1:9, faith will lead the Christian pilgrim to his or her full inheritance of salvation. Where did it lead us? We now reside with beautiful mountains and trees before us and the beauty of the Pend Oreille River behind us. However, we are aware that God did not bring us here to simply enjoy the beauty of the countryside, but to be prepared to do His bidding in whatever way He opens the door of ministry for us. Once again, we are faced with the test of faith. We cannot see what He has in mind for us, but we can trust that He will bring it to completion. The key for us is to continue to believe enough that we remain faithful, and trusting enough that we remain open and available to carry out His marching orders.

      Faith has taught us that it will lead us into the place of God. It reminds us that we are simply strangers in this world and pilgrims in our journey. We may stop along the way to do His bidding, but the ultimate goal of genuine faith is to lead us into the fullness of God’s eternal glory. It is in His glory that the promise of our faith will be fully realized: “For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 10:11).