Today’s Devotional: Waiting and Doing in Faith

There’s a sense sometimes in modern Christianity that true faith means always waiting patiently for God to act. Phrases like “Let go and let God” and “God will provide” are offered as mantras to chant when times are tough… but are there situations when acting in faith means taking a bold step forward?

Blaine Smith of Nehemiah Notes writes that the Bible presents two modes of faith to follow, depending on the situation. When we’re facing a situation that’s completely outside of our control, we should exercise what he calls “Level One” faith—waiting patiently for God to move. But when a situation presents an open door or an appropriate opportunity to act, then we should exercise Level Two faith—taking bold initiative:

Scripture teaches… that we are called to exercise two different levels of faith at various times as Christians. At one level we are to be inactive and wait patiently for the Lord to move. Here faith involves believing that Christ will bring about a solution apart from any effort on our end. It is shown in so many situations in Scripture where people were either told to be still or forced to be still and wait for the Lord to act. Examples include Joseph in prison, the Israelites at the edge of the impassable Jordan River, and Jesus’ disciples just before his ascension when they were instructed, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised” (Acts 1:4).

Yet Scripture just as frequently affirms the faith involved in taking personal responsibility. We find so many impressive pictures in the Bible of individuals who, without any divine revelation or special prompting, took bold steps to reach a personal goal: Naomi and Ruth moving from Moab to Bethlehem, Nehemiah courageously organizing the Israelites to rebuild Jerusalem, Paul knocking on many doors to find opportunities to preach–in his own words, “making it my ambition to preach the gospel” (Rom 15:20 RSV).

In reality, there can be just as much faith involved in taking personal initiative as there is in waiting passively for the Lord to provide. While Ruth would have been commended for staying in Moab and waiting for God to heal the heartbreak of her husband’s death, she probably showed greater faith in going to Bethlehem. By moving forward she placed herself in a vulnerable position where she had to trust the Lord to protect her, to open doors and to make her venture successful. Interestingly, it was this very move that opened her to the relationship with Boaz, who became her husband.

It is right, then, to speak of a second level of faith that we are to demonstrate as Christians. At this level we are active and assertive. We take initiative to find the answer to a need. And by moving forward we force ourselves to a dependence on the Lord that wouldn’t be possible if we merely sat still.

Read the rest of the devotional at Nehemiah Notes.

Is there a situation in your life where you should be exercising “Level Two” faith? Or are you facing circumstances that require waiting patiently on God rather than stepping out on your own initiative?

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