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Jan 21 2010

What Does Faith Look Like?

Scripture commands us to have faith.  In fact, without faith, there is no salvation.  We place our faith in Christ to save us from our sin.  But it does not stop there.  Today I read a post “faith in” that caused me to stop and think.  I know what faith is.  We exercise faith all the time and we do not need to be a Christian to exercise faith.  We do it without thinking.  We could not get through life without faith.  So what does faith look like?

I would like to share a couple of stories that I thought about as I spent time thinking about it after reading someone else’s post on this subject.  I have a macaw who comes from a rather abused background.  His background is really very sad and he developed a mistrust of human beings.  People scared him and he had reason to be scared of people.  Not any more.  When he is scared, he comes to me for his protection.  He has expectations that I will protect him.  He has learned that I will not hurt him and not only that, but I will protect him.  I can lay him on his back in my hand and tell him to let go of my other hand.  He has faith that I will not drop him.  That’s a very scary position for a bird to be in.

He has a little leg band that was placed on his leg when he hatched.  One day it caught on a hook and he was stuck.  He screamed and was very, very frightened.  If you know birds, that’s a very bad position to be in.  It means certain death in the wild for there is no way to escape a predator.   I looked at him and knew what I had to do.  I had to grab hold of his leg and unhook the band from the hook he was stuck to and I had to do it quickly for birds are known to die of heart failure due to fright.  I was dealing with one very scared bird.  I also knew that I was going to receive a massive bite from that macaw beak.  There was no time to go looking for a pair of gloves.  I took a deep breath to ready myself for a horrible bite and grabbed hold of his leg and started maneuvering his leg around until he was free.  To my utter surprise, I was not bitten.  He had placed his faith in me and once I started working on freeing him, he quieted down and held still so I could do what I needed to do to free him.  But that’s what faith looks like.  He trusted me to free him and once I started working on freeing him, he stopped being scared, calmed down and let me do what I needed to do.  I expected nurse my bloody hand after he finished with me.  It never happened because he trusted me to free him.

How does this translate to our faith in Christ?  Sure, Christians place their faith in Christ when they come to salvation.  But do we always place complete faith afterwards?  Do we try and do things ourselves, try to work it out our way?  Another post I read on God’s timing talks about waiting on God.  Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands.  Instead of having faith that God would do what He said He would do, Abraham had a child with Hagar.  Are we really any different?

The faith my macaw places in me is undeserved for I am prone to failure and mistakes.  But when I look at him, I see what faith should look like.  He trusts me.  To exercise faith, one must have trust.  Abraham and Sarah did not have implicit trust.  If they did, they would not have taken matters into their own hands.  If they really trusted, their faith in God would not have allowed them to question how Sarah would conceive.  Nothing is too hard for God and nothing is impossible for God.

God will do what He says He will do.  We have to understand what it is we are asking.  We cannot have faith that we will be living in wealth or that all our physical ailments will be healed.   God did not promise us that.  We can have faith that He will take care of our needs.  We can have faith that He will do exactly what He said He will do.

  • But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:27-31 (ESV)

Peter started to sink because he doubted.  The bible is full of examples of God’s people doubting.  Peter was able to walk on water at Jesus’ command until he doubted.

My bird did not doubt I would be able to free him.  That’s why he did not bite me and why he kept still while I set his leg free from the hook.  He does not know that I can fail and cannot be trusted to always come through.  But we know that God cannot fail and will ALWAYS come through.

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  1. Margaret


    I have a similar story of faith. …. On our ranch we had a Commador sheep dog who guarded our sheep….. He stayed with them day and night and chased away the coyotes, who were always hungry for sheep…. One night he went on a determined chase of a coyote, evidently through barbed wire fences and other hazards…. He was back in the morning, all bloody and cut up with deep gashes….. I knew I had to apply antiseptics and bandage him up before infection set in….. Gromiko, was full grown (possibly 170 pounds) and we had had him for only about a year, so I did not know how he would react to the application of stinging antiseptic….. But, he just lay there, completely relaxed, and turned to lick my hand….. I was really impressed with his trust and faith in me.

    In all of our troubles, we need to have faith in our Creator and Savior because His love is true and the experiences He allows us to go through are for our eternal benefit.


    1. Tishrei

      Hi Margaret,

      First — AWWWWWWWW — that’s so sweet. What a good and trusting doggy. That would have melted my heart.

      I brought up my macaw as an example what I imagine complete trust looks like. Little children and animals seems to just have faith but we adults take matters into our own hands. I’m sure my macaw did not understand the mechanics of how I was going to untangle him from that hook but as soon as started working on it, he got quiet and calmed down and let me do what he was unable to do for himself. He did not try and fight me and ‘help’ me out. That’s how I imagine that our faith in God should look like. Complete trust without our “helping” things along.

  2. pttyann

    Good post Tishrei how good it is to trust in God and I want to trust in him completely so that during times of trials I will not be afraid,knowing that he will come through for me in time as always.

    1. Tishrei

      Amen Pat!! May we all be able to come to Him like a little child trusting implicitly. I just read a quote that I would like to share that really was cute but said a lot. A little kid was asked why he believes in God. This is what he had to say:

      “If you don’t believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can’t go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He’s around you when you’re scared in the dark or when you can’t swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids.

      But…you shouldn’t just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and He can take me back anytime He pleases.

      And…that’s why I believe in God.”

  3. Liz

    like this post. and am glad that you were not bitten.
    also thanks for the return…

    I do not really have any stories from an animal view but more of a childs view.

    Lindsay one of the girls I nanny got hurt while I was watching her. This is kind of an opposite reaction, where she could have had a little more faith. But being 7 and all girly girl. Afriad of any pain, she sadly did not.

    We had to look at her foot where she got hurt but how she howled and cried and would not let anyone touch her, she is kind of a drama queen but I love her. I tried my best to reasure her but nothing helped.

    I think sometimes at leaste for me that is my first reaction to God when it should be the other way, of trust. But even as we frail about He loves us and gently lets us know He can be trusted all the time.

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Liz,

      Lindsay sounds like a really sweet little girl. Like you, when it comes to tuff stuff, I tend to be more like Lindsay. But God is so awesome — even when we’re struggling against the grain, He doesn’t let up.

  4. Loren

    What a beautiful post!

    Your and Margaret’s stories are very touching and demonstrate the kind of faith that I would sure like to have. But alas, I fear that I am often guilty of being more like “Lindsay” from Liz’s story than your macaw or Gromiko, Margaret’s dog.

    So often we “bite” the Lord’s hand as He seeks to free our own legs from the hooks that ensnare them. But you know, He does it anyway. We often think of “child-like” faith as being born out of ignorance: a faith that is strong only because it lacks the knowledge to be otherwise. But I think that it is a faith that is strong because it is pure and untainted by the cynicism and skepticism that comes with the experience of growing older.

    Little children, macaws, and sheep dogs know that there are dangers to be feared, they are not unaware of the harms that may befall them. Yet they can unreservedly place a faith and trust in frail and imperfect human beings who have shown that they have their best interests at heart. Is not our Lord infinitely more deserving of our own trust?

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Loren,

      Like you, I am more like “Lindsay” than my bird or Gromiko. You’re probably right, little kids and animals are not tainted like we are as adults. But then my bird should have been tainted — he was pretty abused at the hands of humans for the first 15 years of his life before he came to live with me (that’s why he has no feathers).

      Isn’t it weird I can learn something about faith and trust from a silly little bird? God sure has His ways of showing me things.

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