November 02, 2012

Is Faith a Verb?

Mark 9:14-29

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
—Mark 9:24


We can easily misunderstand faith. Sometimes we make it all about us, as if it were something that we have to do.

Imagine if you had an exercise bike hooked up to a generator to keep the lights on in your home. The system would work fine as long as you continued to pedal. But as you got tired, the lights would gradually dim and then shut off, leaving you stuck in the dark.

Many people look at faith in much the same way. Some­where they got the idea that our faith is like an exercise we have to keep up in order to get the lights of heaven to shine on us. They worry that if we were to grow tired and slow down, the lights of heaven would begin to dim on us. However, if we can somehow keep “faith-ing” hard enough, God will still provide what we need from him.

That kind of faith can be a lot of work. Just talk to the woman who has learned to lower her hopes for God’s blessings because she knows she doesn’t real­ly deserve his care. Or talk to the man who has come to see himself as a second-class be­liever because of some mistakes he’s made over the years. Both of these people mistakenly ­assume that if they don’t exercise their faith hard enough, God will not keep on blessing them. And they grow afraid, knowing they can’t.

Fortunately, that’s not how the Bible presents faith.

Lord God, I can so easily make my faith all about me. Please turn my struggling eyes toward you. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Ron Vanderwell

Ron Vanderwell recently became the senior pastor of New Life Church in New Lenox, Illinois. He has been a pastor for 22 years, serving as a church planter for the previous 12 years at The Gathering in Sacramento, California, and before that as a pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ron and his wife, Deb, have three sons: John, Adam, and Jake. Ron shares more of his reflections on “squinting” for God in his blog at

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