Cultivating "Celestial Faith" Under Crisis
Extreme times require extreme faith. I know this is a time of extremity for many of you. It certainly is for us. We have people out of long term work, people out of homes or on the edge of being evicted, people out of provisions or on the edge of the end of provision, people with utterly incapacitating illnesses and some on the edge of death (and we have not even begun to face "resistance unto blood...")
When faith becomes tested to these degrees, it changes our perspective on faith itself. We move from believing God over specific circumstances to proving how and in what way we believe in Him at all. Once we pass into the circumstantial stratosphere where the oxygen of expectation is fully depleted, of what then is our faith composed? Faith is the "substance" of "things hoped for." But what happens once "things hoped for" become "past all possible expectation?" Of what then is faith's substance?
It's in this "hang on for dear life" phase of faith that we come to grips with giants of an entirely different realm. These are no longer the earth-bound giants of mere opposing circumstance, but the celestial giants of blasphemy and accusation which make charges 24/7 before the throne of God--bidding us to join their ranks, "curse God and die." These are the giants the people of the "manchild" have been ordained to face and cast down (Rev. 12:10)--"loving not their lives, even to death." This is the faith of Abraham.
Can we handle this kind of faith? Can we endure the rigor of celestial faith? Or will we fall away en route to perfected salvation?
The Approaching Rebirth of Western Celestial Faith
We are approaching a time where for those of us in the "blessed west" celestial-class faith is going to be required to endure to the end. This is not a "new" faith. It is in fact the "original" faith. But it is not a class of faith our relatively culturally-comfortable level of faith has had to reckon with. Most modern western faith has been lived out only at an inconsequential circumstantial level. We pray and believe for circumstances which, if they are answered according to our expectations, bless us, and, if they are not, will not significantly threaten or alter our lives.
Those before us however, the pioneers who lived on the edge of wilderness survival, totally understood celestial class faith--as still do our people in the east who have never had a comfortably blessed existence. The pioneers understood the basics of celestial faith--a faith that justifies God at all times and past all rationality in the face of life's most threatening issues, the overall patent "unfairness" of life's experiences and in the face of God's own ways--regardless of what happened to them or their loved ones.
How then do we too cultivate celestial faith?
"Whatever the Old Man Does Is Right"
One of my favorite childhood stories from Hans Christian Andersen, and one that I feel has such great spiritual importance, is called What the Old Man Does Is Always Right. You probably heard it too when you were young. (If not, or you have forgotten it, you can read it here.) But it's the story about a peasant who goes to market starting out with a horse to trade.
On the way to the market though, he makes a series of trades, each one for something "worse off" than what he started with--from a horse, to a cow, to a sheep, to a goose, to a hen, to finally a sack of rotten apples at an inn. Here at the inn, never even getting to the market, he is scoffed at by some men for his lack of business sense and is bet against that when he returns home, his wife will beat him for his idiocy. He bets that she will not, but will bless him rather. The men bet a bushel of gold, and he bets the bushel of apples and himself and his wife to boot.
On arriving home with the men to witness, the peasant tells to his wife the story of his "trade downs" and his explanations for each. At every explanation, she blesses him and agrees, and comes up with an equal justification for his decisions. Underneath it all, her attitude is unflinchingly one of justifying "Father's" decisions. At this, the astonished men fork over their bushel of gold to the peasant, and so in the end he comes off far better than he ever could have at the market for his horse!
The story ends with this spiritually apt statement:
"Yes, it always pays when the wife believes and admits that her husband is the wisest man in the world and that whatever he does is right."
The Bride of Christ Always Agrees with Her Husband
We are preparing to become the "Bride of Christ." This is a heavenly role that involves overcoming celestial giants of accusation and blasphemy against God. This is where Andersen's story is pertinent to us. For it pictures the attitude we must develop and defend to occupy that role. Like the wife in this story, we must come to so love beyond feelings and trust beyond reason our heavenly Husband-to-be and our Heavenly Father that we subconsciously willfully bless Him in agreement for the "inscrutable" wisdom of His acts at every turn of apparent life-threatening unfaithfulness, unrighteousness, or unfairness on His part toward us.
This is a faith past all rational defensibility which requires utmost submission to the indwelling Holy Spirit to cultivate. In this stratosphere past human expectation, we have only sheer spiritual conviction to rely on for assurance that we have not gone mad in our pursuit of God. Only such conviction is able to overcome and cast down the heavenly powers of blasphemous accusation before the Throne.
What is unknown to us is that, just as with Job, a wager has been made between the Father and these powers of accusation. These giants have bet their entire status before the Throne that we will not have what it takes to implicitly believe God past all reason to reach their realm to overthrow them!
The Father has "bet" otherwise. And there will come a time where, for us who endure unto perfected celestial faith, the devil's lock on the earth's resources--on our bodies--on our loved ones will be utterly broken to where we will come off far better than what we were believing for at our original earthly level.
Facing the Giants
If you haven't seen the Christian movie Facing the Giants, I encourage you to rent a copy. It's about the challenges of circumstantial faith at a really mundane level (a coach of a losing Christian school football team always has stuff breaking down and his wife can't get pregnant), but the point it makes regarding the endurance--the "death crawl"--required to overcome the inner giants of tepid resignation in defeat is still worth the watch.
Today, beneath the thin topsoil of our circumstantial-level western faith, there are huge (and I do mean huge) boulders of secret accusation against God ready to surface under world trial. The celestial giants have been planting them carefully over generations with a timed detonation in mind. They are betting on the church's ultimate siding with them to curse God and die.
Over much time, entire segments of our modern Christian thought and theology have become built on secret appeasements of human rationality and insinuations against an Eternal Wisdom that has allowed for such things as a fallen universe, an endless hell, selective election to salvation, and for a host of rationally indefensible divine behaviors in scripture that violate our natural senses of propriety and fairness. Under the trials to come, this lurking bedrock of unbelief will become exposed in the form of blatant accusation against God and a falling away from the faith.
It is imperative to cultivate celestial faith now, to bless our Husband-to-be throughout every stretching experience beyond circumstantial expectation, and for everything about our Lord we can't otherwise rationally accept about the way He has run the cosmos or has presented Himself in scripture to our liking for easy justification to others. God has not made Himself easy to justify! We must embrace that.
The Father is counting on the fact that there is a People who will indeed endure unto the blind justification of celestial faith, and who will finally defeat His ancient accusers. He is in no doubt about it and is entirely unafraid of the heavenly wager. The only question is,
Are we the people He is counting on, or will it be left to yet others to win?
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
BACK TO TOP
Page created October 25, 2009