Living By Faint

“If I could just hang on and get through this…”

We whiteknuckle our way through one crisis after another, hoping for peacetime once more, when no further patience or prayer is needed, no special trust in God, no faith.

But the times we barely survive are red-letter quality.  They’re the most precious moments of our private histories, when we’re actually learning to “walk by faith, and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).

After being saved, the lessons of faith continue for us, fulfilling God’s desire that “the righteous shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17).  We’ve been grafted as branches into the olive tree of Romans 11.  Now the nutritional riches of faith in the root of the tree naturally flow to you (Rom. 11:18).

The implications are enormous.  The root of the olive tree represents the most primary principle of God’s work, and a template for every one of His people.  You are linked to it now.  Guaranteed, it will end up being the story of your life.

Abraham was the first of God’s called people. Just as he was commanded to leave Ur of the Chaldees for the strange new land of Canaan, you were called out of your old life and into the fellowship of Christ.

Subsequently, the hallmark of Abraham’s experience was to go out “without knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8), to stay in that new land while dwelling in a tent, and to wait for God’s glorious future—“a city that has foundations” (Heb. 11:9).

Similarly, the principles of going, staying, and waiting, according to the invisible presence of God, will be fundamental to your spiritual development.

Abraham believed God’s promises even when they were beyond the scope of human sight, and when human logic forbade it—including resurrection (Rom. 4:17-20, Heb. 11:17-20).  Likewise, we believe God offered His Son Jesus Christ for our sins, and then raised Him from the dead—a truth we continue in daily.

When God made you a branch in His olive tree, He intended you to soak up and learn the lessons of faith He established with Abraham.  We’re supposed to “walk in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had” (Rom. 4:12), and repeat the exhilarating, sometimes scary reality of it.

We all must learn, as Abraham, to walk in the presence of God related to the anxiety of financial shortfalls (Gen. 12:10), moral compromises (Gen. 12:11-13), impatience with God (Gen. 16:1-4), relational friction (Gen. 13:5-7), struggles (Gen.  14),  sacrifice (Gen.  22:1-19), desperate prayer (Gen. 13:13-33), sorrow (Gen. 23:1-2), and yes, the sweet nectar of obtaining God’s promises (Gen. 21:1-7).

This is life in the olive tree.

It has a learning curve because it doesn’t lie within the range of our five senses.  And so we seem to barely make it, living by “faint” rather than faith.

The placid days feel so much better—when life is like a hammock rather than a crisis.  Yet not many of those idyllic times are worth recording in journals.  As they blur together into one generic lump, you forget them.

But you’ll always remember the olive tree days.

They comprise the kind of life God would record in a book called Genesis and treasure forever.


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