God Never Failed Me Yet
Sometimes we have to look backwards in our faith in order to walk forward by faith. Life gets difficult at times and we feel as if we are being overwhelmed. When fear leads us to question God’s plan for us and we don’t understand what is happening, it is helpful to stop and look at how we got where we are. If we truly see all God has done for us, despite us, it becomes unthinkable that He will not come through again. A trip down memory lane with God in the hardests of times leads to faith to go forward relying on God. We know God has been faithful so we can trust He will be.
He Did it Before, He Will Do it Again
At the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, Mary travels from her home in Nazareth to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. It seems to be a somewhat oddly timed visit considering the circumstances. Mary just learned she is pregnant. Elizabeth is also pregnant with John the Baptist but their situations are very different. There are huge storm clouds on the horizon for Mary. She is young, unmarried and pregnant with the Son of God. There is a lot for her to process without adding a long road trip.
This journey results in the amazing scene where baby John leaps in his mother’s womb at the arrival of the Messiah. It also produces Mary’s wonderful song of praise we now call the Magnificat. It is a wonderful encounter, but this does not in itself provide the reason for the trip itself. Why did God not have Elizabeth come to Mary, for example? The answer may lie in the trip itself. Much like in our lives, the biggest lessons are often learned on the journey itself which then prepare us for the destination.
A Journey of Faith
Mary was in the northern portion of Israel in Nazareth. Elizabeth lived in the hill country of Judea. This is the hills south of Jerusalem. To get to Elizabeth, Mary would travel almost the length of Israel. What an inconvenience, right? Yes, unless she is walking by faith.
Mary just learned that she is pregnant before marriage. This was obviously a huge shock to a young girl looking forward to her wedding. She also experienced an entirely unprecedented visit from an angel. This alone could have thrown her from a loss. Then there is his message. Can we imagine being told we would be the mother (or father) to the Son of the Most High…as a teenager? The news was wonderful. It was also extremely challenging.
How would she tell Joseph? What would people say? Would she be stoned, an outcast or welcomed? What would life be like with such a responsibility? Would God see her through this? Mary’s response is wonderful, but she also was human. A million questions likely raced through her mind.
So God takes her on a trip overflowing with meaning. Mary’s journey led through the heart of God’s land, the Promise Land, Israel. God took her on a road that encountered many of the places we read about on the Old Testament today. At the outset, she saw Mt. Carmel where Elijah took on the prophets of Baal and Mt. Tabor where Barak and Deborah defeated Sisera’s fierce army. She passed Jericho, where God destroyed the walls of the Canaanite city on behalf of His people. She saw Bethel where Jacob saw his ladder and Dothan, where Joseph was sold into slavery before being redeemed by God. Her journey led her past where Boaz redeemed Ruth in an Old Testament picture of the baby in her belly. She saw the Temple of God shining for miles around as a picture of the glory of God’s blessing on Israel. In a time likely filled with apprehension, God took her on a tour of the many monuments to His faithfulness.
If God spent 2000 years showing His power on behalf of His people, why would He stop now? Yes, the future looks scary to Mary, but it was equally terrifying for Joshua, Moses, Elijah and all of the men and women God delivered in the past. Taste and see God’s past goodness and trust.
Walk by Faith Knowing God Delivers
We never want to live in the faith of yesterday alone. That is, look back on the past and live off what God did for us back then. We don’t want to rest in the works of God in the early church or the 60’s hippie revival as if they were enough. But a grand tour of God’s faithfulness to us and our families is just as effective to encourage us for tomorrow as it was in Mary’s time. “Are we scared of the future?”, remember the past. Whether it be destroying an enemy army or the addictions in our lives, God did it once and He will do it again. He stands powerfully for His people today just as He did yesterday and 4000 years ago.
So if you are struggling today, perhaps a journey through your monuments of God’s power and faithfulness is in order. God has not let down the millions of faithful believers who came before us.
Why would he start now?