We have to admit that before the wilderness we did not know what a crisis of faith was What we thought was a crisis of faith was actually a crisis of belief. A crisis of belief is when a person questions their belief in God. This may happen to a believer when satan challenges their belief system. A crisis of faith is completely different. A disciple will experience a crisis of faith when their trust in ‘self’ collides with their trust in God.
Where is our trust?
In scripture, God is very clear that trusting in man’s strength and support is an unwise venture. Psalm 20:7, Isaiah 31:1 and Hosea 10:13 each give us God’s perspective on this point. The Father is clear that trusting in the strength of man is foolishness yet we are taught to trust in man from the moment we are born. From an early age they teach us to depend on mankind’s structures like school, religion, government and business to provide for our every need.
There is little room for trust in God in mankind’s systems.
God, however, wants His children to rely on Him as their sole provider. He desires that we place our complete trust in Him alone. However, far too many believers do not transition from trusting in ‘self’ to trusting in God. They never experience a crisis of faith that will catapult them into trusting God for their daily existence but they may experience a crisis of belief. A crisis of faith, however, is what we need if we wish to grow into intimacy with Jesus.
Sleeping on a snowbank
On a cold day in February 2012, our family left the motel where we had lived for a month. We did not have the funds to pay for another month so we left. Wandering about Summerside, Prince Edward Island, we looked for a way to leave our island prison but there was none. That night we spread out our blankets on a snowbank in a park and, in vain, tried to sleep. The bitter cold cut through our clothing and threatened us with hypothermia.
I silently prayed for the end to come.
The next morning found us hungry and chilled but alive. The temperature overnight had been -9° C. The 24 hours outside in the cold was more than our bodies could bear. Adding to our misery, our blankets were now frozen sheets after our body heat had melted the snow and refroze; useless for warmth. With our spirits in deep despair we used our last remaining money to get a motel room for one night.
A Super 8 motel, just outside of town, took us in as a blizzard approached. After hot baths and drinks we warmed enough to take stock of our situation. The outlook was very grim. Our family was about to face a major crisis of faith.
The crisis of faith
By following God into homelessness we had already endured many months of hardship, hunger, misery, lack and unkindness. At each step, hard as it was, we trusted Jesus to guide, protect and provide. At this point, however, Wanda and I questioned His lead. Wanda wanted to give up and return to the west, trusting in man’s help. I didn’t want to see my family suffer and could not disagree with her position. Ida and Fanny, our two daughters, were not of the same mind. They were determined to continue the journey of faith trusting in God even if we quit. They were willing to face homelessness alone.
For many hours tears, pleading, anger and pain over the agony of what we had endured poured out. Neither side would give way. The crisis of faith split our family in two.
This was the closest we ever came to abandoning our faith walk.
Long into the night our daughters were able to reason Wanda and I back to a place of faith. Their stalwart insistence to see our journey through to the end was a humbling experience. The crisis could have destroyed our family, but it did not. Instead this crisis left us fiercely determined to continue the journey of uncompromising faith as a united team.
With our blankets now wet and ruined, and loaded down with too much to carry, we left much of what we owned in the room. The next day we struck out along the highway determined to leave the island even if it meant we would die. Though the wind and snow whipped our faces and the -25° C temperatures chilled our bodies to the core, we were resolute to finish the race set before us.
God honored our uncompromising faith in a surprising way that day but that is another story.
The lesson of faith
Through this example we see that ours was not a crisis of belief, it was a crisis of faith. Not one of us doubted God’s existence. What Wanda and I struggled with is who did we rely on for provision. Our ‘self’ nature was screaming at us to give up, seek comfort and stop the journey. Our spirit, echoed by Ida and Fanny, was telling us to trust in God for His provision. This is the essence of a crisis of faith.
Faith is important to the life of every believer but life changing for the disciple.
The uncompromising faith God is looking for is one of complete dependence on Him. “But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him,” Hebrews 11:6
Our story is but one example of a crisis of faith. We encountered others as we walked through the wilderness. In these moments of life and death decisions, whether we will trust in man or trust in God hangs in the balance. These decisions are neither light nor trivial but have tremendous implications for our spiritual growth. If we become a disciple God will lead us into the wilderness. Here He tests our heart to see in whom we will trust. Though we may trumpet our faith in Him, only in the valley of the shadow of death will we know what the real answer will be. The crisis of faith awaits.
Homer and Wanda