“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV). We may not see them naturally but by our spiritual eyes we perceive them.
Years ago, we moved to Kansas so that my husband might take a job. Up to this point, we lived east of Atlanta on a few heavily wooded acres. Our babies were born and brought home to our cedar-sided cabin with its broad front porch. This place was a little “piece of heaven” for us – a small acreage surrounded by neighbors, some in subdivisions, others on their own few acres. Many afternoons, I hiked across the pasture of the neighboring land to see my best friend, Barbara, and her boys. With this move to Kansas, we longed to capture the same lifestyle – a country home with plenty of neighbors, yet a spacious place to raise children. We set out to explore land north of the metro area.
I remember how my heart sank as we drove up and down county roads. This was not the dense greenery of Atlanta. Field after broad, flat, farm field stretched before my eyes, houses only here and there. I thought, “If we choose this, what will life be like? Where will I find friends, playmates OUT HERE?” My husband would have a long commute into the city and most days would be spent without his company or help. Yet, he seemed so set on intensifying our country experience. I tried hard to remain enthused.
We did choose this area and moved temporarily into a home in a subdivision near a small town. My husband was not yet satisfied. He still wanted to be “out farther.” He perused want ads looking for land until he finally found a wonderful deal, the size acreage that he yearned for at a fair price. Now, I love the country too. I just feared isolation and loneliness.
I remember the first time we drove by to look at this great find. “What a mess!” was my first thought. There was a “basement house” – some form of primitive earth contact house, only it looked like a concrete bomb bunker. There was a falling down barn. I could only imagine how many brown recluse spiders were holding a convention in it! Piles of trash, broken fences, and barb wire entangled in hedge rows were everywhere.
My husband saw something beyond the present however. As the old barn was pushed down into a pond site, the basement house buried, the fences cleared, we poured a foundation. The day finally came when we sat in white wicker rockers on the front porch, the flower beds filled with bridal wreath spirea, iris, and much more. We had a beautiful home and little children from town and church and even from down the road became new friends.
I have often thought of my first response and my husband’s response to the land as symbolic for how we react to many of life’s experiences. How differently we see our circumstances depending on “the eyes” we are using. When we see things in the natural, we may see nothing, obstacles, or more sorrow and think, “Nothing good can come from this. Nothing will change. There is no hope. It can’t get better.” When we look with “natural” eyes, our hearts can be so heavy. But what happens when we look at the same picture with “spiritual” eyes, the eyes of faith? I so often think of the book of Hebrews and its writer’s wonderful description of Abraham:
“By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” (Hebrews 11:11-12 NIV)
“As good as dead!” Can’t you see old Abraham looking down at age-spotted hands and over at Sarah, seeing more of the same, scratching his head, yet proclaiming, with all his heart, “The One who made this promise is FAITHFUL. I choose to believe!!”
Today, if you are discouraged, seeing your circumstances as if they are an “old house and a broken down barn,” may the Lord help you see what can rise up out of what looks only like ruins. Choose to believe His promise that He has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)