Walking in the Dark

Text: 2 Corinthians 5:7 "... we walk by faith, not by sight... "

Theme: We must keep trusting, and keep walking, even when He leaves us in the dark.


Introduction:

Here is a wonderful text - we walk by faith, not by sight...

It is found in an interesting portion of God's Word. Here in 2 Corinthians, Paul reminds the believer of the wonderful hope that awaits at the end of this life, when we will be absent from this body, but present with our glorious Lord (vs. 8).

He reminds us of how confident we can be in this hope (vs. 8).

He also exhorts us to think about the ramifications of this hope. We will soon see Christ. We will stand before Him. We will appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ. (vs. 10)

We must labor (vs. 9) to ensure that we can give a good report at that Judgement Seat of Christ. For some it will be a difficult time ("... knowing therefore the terror of the Lord..." vs. 11).

Before we move into our subject for this evening, which is verse 7, let's remind ourselves of this powerful, awe-inspiring verse which is verse 10 - "WE MUST ALL APPEAR BEFORE THE JUDGEMENT SEAT OF CHRIST!" How this verse should guide our activities... our words... our thoughts... our plans... our goals... our attitudes...

What are you planning to do tomorrow? Wait... THE JUDGEMENT SEAT OF CHRIST!

Where are you planning to go? How are you planning to live? WAIT... THE JUDGEMENT SEAT OF CHRIST! If we allow it to, verse 10 can be a powerful motivational force in the life of the Christian.

Tonight, though, I want to use this verse as a springboard to discuss something that has been much on my mind lately.

Let's think about this truth: We must keep trusting, and keep walking, even when He leaves us in the dark.


I. God wants you to pray.

A. He commands it.

1 Chronicles 16:11 Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.

Matthew 26:41 "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is "willing, but the flesh is weak."

Luke 18:1 "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint"

1 Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing."

B. We, as believers know it, and practice it.

We practice it corporately - as we are doing tonight.

We practice it individually, personally.

We keep prayer journals, writing down our requests and answers

Some of us do it in the morning, when we first away.

Some do it in the evening, before they retire..

Some do while doing other things, like driving to work.

ILLUS - Dr. Jack Hyles has been much on my mind lately. I remember listening to him preach once when he was describing himself as always trying to do more than one thing at once. I remember him giving examples of how he would try to combine various activities of his day so that he was always doing at least two things at once. Perhaps that is why he was able to accomplish so much in his lifetime. However, he mentioned that there was one activity that drove him crazy because he couldn't combine it with anything else - bathing. He said he hated the time spent bathing because you can only bathe when bathing... you can't do anything else at the same time. Well... even when bathing, we can be praying...

Some do it conscienteously - never missing an opportunity to talk to God.

QUOTE (Martin Luther) - "If I should neglect prayer but a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith."

Some struggle with it - never seeming to find adequate time.

Some have learned the joy of continous conversation with God.

ILLUS - When asked how much time he spent in prayer, George Muller's reply was, "Hours every day. But I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk and when I lie down and when I arise. And the answers are always coming."

Regardless of which category you fall into, as believers we know God wants us to pray, and we try to do just that.

II. God promises to answer your prayer.

Isaiah 65:24 "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."

Luke 11:9 "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.:

John 14:14 "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it."

A. We know this from examples in scripture

ILLUS - Gideon - Judges 6

ILLUS - Hannah - 1 Samuel 1

ILLUS - Elijah - 1 Kings 18

ILLUS - The Early Church - Acts 4:31 "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. "

It would be difficult for you to open your Bible to any page without finding an example of how God answers prayer.

B. We know this from our own experience.

(We could go around this church tonight and hear testimony after testimony of God's answers to prayer.)

III. God's answers are not always clear to us, though.

(Sometimes they're downright invisible... seemingly absent...)

Text: 2 Corinthians 5:7 "... we walk by faith, not by sight... "

A. There are times when He seems to ignore our best efforts.

QUESTION - Have you ever worked really hard at something for God, and seemingly received no reward... no recognition... God seemed silent and unappreciative?

ILLUS - David at the garrison of the Philistines - READ 2 Samuel 23:14-17

IMAGINE IT, after all that amazing superhuman effort, David just POURED IT ON THE GROUND.

I heard a preacher talking about this verse once, and he said, "If God wants to take all my best efforts, all my work, all my study, every bit of my strength and dedication, and POUR IT ON THE GROUND, He is God... it's alright with me.

Sometimes you will feel like that... you'll believe God is just pouring your life out on the ground.

ILLUS (from Philip Yancey's, Disappointment With God, Zondervan, pp. 38-40.) - Even back then I was searching for hard evidence of God as an alternative to faith. And one day I found it--on television, of all places. While randomly flipping a dial, I came across a mass healing service being conducted by Kathryn Kuhlman. I watched for a few minutes as she brought various people up on the stage and interviewed them. Each one told an amazing story of supernatural healing. Cancer, heart conditions, paralysis--it was like a medical encyclopedia up there. As I watched Kuhlman's program, my doubts gradually melted away. At last I had found something real and tangible. Kuhlman asked a musician to sing her favorite song, "He Touched Me." That's what I needed, I thought; a touch, a personal touch from God. She held out that promise, and I lunged for it.

Three weeks later when Kathryn Kuhlman came to a neighboring state, I skipped classes and traveled half a day to attend one of her meetings. The atmosphere was unbelievably charged--soft organ music in the background; the murmuring sound of people praying aloud, some in strange tongues; and every few minutes a happy interruption when someone would stand and claim, "I'm healed!" One person especially made an impression, a man from Milwaukee who had been carried into the meeting on a stretcher. When he walked--yes, walked--onstage, we all cheered wildly. He told us he was a physician, and I was even more impressed. He had incurable lung cancer, he said, and was told he had six months to live. But now, tonight, he believed God had healed him. He was walking for the first time in months. He felt great. Praise God! I wrote down the man's name and practically floated out of that meeting. I had never known such certainty of faith before.

My search was over; I had seen proof of a living God in those people on the stage. If he could work tangible miracles in them, then surely he had something wonderful in store for me. I wanted contact with the man of faith I had seen at the meeting, so much so that exactly one week later I phoned Directory Assistance in Milwaukee and got the physician's number. When I dialed it, a woman answered the phone. "May I please speak to Dr. S_____," I said. Long silence. "Who are you?" she said at last. I figured she was just screening calls from patients or something. I gave my name and told her I admired Dr. S_____ and had wanted to talk to him ever since the Kathryn Kuhlman meeting. I had been very moved by his story, I said.

Another long silence. Then she spoke in a flat voice, pronouncing each word slowly. "My...husband...is...dead." Just that one sentence, nothing more, and she hung up.

I can't tell you how that devastated me. I was wasted. I half-staggered into the next room, where my sister was sitting. "Richard, what's wrong?" she asked. "Are you all right?" No, I was not all right. But I couldn't talk about it. I was crying. My mother and sister tried to pry some explanation out of me. But what could I tell them? For me, the certainty I had staked my life on had died with that phone call. A flame had flared bright for one fine, shining week and then gone dark, like a dying star.

B. There are times when we cry out for long periods of time and He seems to ignore us.

ILLUS - The woman of great faith - READ Matthew 15:21-23, esp. vs. 23 "But He answered her not a word."

C. There are some who live all their lives and never SEE His answer!

READ - Hebrews 11:8-13, esp. vs. 13 "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

IV. Yet, You must trust Him.

Faith that sees is not faith!

Hebrews 11:1 "... faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Text: 2 Corinthians 5:7 "... we walk by faith, not by sight... "

ANYBODY can believe when surrounded by evidence.

JOKE - The Galloping Gourmet once told of a man who loved to take walks after dark. He would don his topcoat, take hold of his umbrella, and venture out every evening. One night, a fog began to roll in after he had gotten about halfway through his stroll. It grew thicker and thicker until he became fearful. He could not see, and soon found himself able to proceed only by tapping on the ground with his umbrella, like a blind man with his white cane. He tapped along... tap... tap... tap... making progress very slowly. Since he could not see anything, he began to wonder if he was even heading in the right direction, but since he had little choice he continued on... tap... tap... tap....

Suddenly, as he reached forward to tap, he found that there was nothing there! He reached all around in front of him, desperately feeling for the ground with his umbrella, but there was nothing there! He turned to his right and reached forth with his umbrella, but THERE WAS NOTHING THERE! He turned to his left, and discovered the same thing. Trembling, the man breathed a silent prayer of thanks for God's protection. Obviously he had wandered onto some precipice, and if it weren't for his umbrella, he would have plunged to his death!

Slowly, very slowly, the man turned around to return the way he came. He reached out with his trusty umbrella to feel his way, and to his horror discovered... NOTHING. He reached all around him now, on all sides, frantically trying to find the sliver of solid ground upon which he must have entered this precipice, but he could not find it. He realized that he had no choice now but to wait for morning and light.

Tremblingly, he passed the night, fearful to take even a step in any direction...

When morning came, he discovered that the handle had come off his umbrella, and he had spent the night on the sidewalk in front of his home.

So it is with many of us... if we cannot see, if we cannot feel our way, we give up and stop. THAT IS NOT FAITH.

ILLUS - The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us. (John Emmons.)

TRUE FAITH... GREAT FAITH, believes when the evidence is dim, or even invisible.

Conclusion:

When God seems to pour your life out on the ground, keep trusting Him.

When those times come where He seems to ignore your most fervent cries... when He answers not a word... keep trusting Him.

Even if you NEVER SEE AN ANSWER IN THIS LIFETIME, keep trusting Him. You won't be the only one in heaven with that story.

NEVER FORGET, we walk by faith, NOT BY SIGHT.

QUOTE - (Augustine) "Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of faith is to see what we believe."

NEVER FORGET, when we get home, everything will be clear.


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Copyright © 2001 William E. Johnson.