When I was younger, much younger, I suppose I was typical in that I believed I was in control of my life. Decisions and plans for my life, not just the direction it would take but the details of the choices and plans, were mine and mine alone, I thought. If I added people to my realm of responsibility, they would certainly have an impact on my decisions, but I was still in charge. I chose to major in math in college. I enabled myself to finish college a year early. I chose to marry at age twenty-one. I chose to work part-time so that I could be the keeper of our home. My husband and I chose to delay having children for a few years. Looking back at these choices I can see wisdom and maturity in them. They were not bad choices.
My faith in and understanding of God, however, was immature, even infantile. I assumed as long as I towed God’s line, He would go along for the ride with me. My Co-Pilot, ready to take over if I failed. What I didn’t know when I dedicated my life to Him was that I gave Him permission to pilot my life. At His insistence, I was strapped into a passenger seat in the back. God doesn’t need a co-pilot. I had no clue where He was taking me, but I assumed I knew where I was going. After all, I had a plan.
The ancient Hebrews had many words for faith, words derived from other words, as well, that are used throughout the Old Testament. It was a complicated, multi-layered concept for them. No wonder mankind still is trying to distill the meaning of true faith in God. I found a list* that narrows things down a bit for me. I am no Hebrew scholar and present this list only as a means to stimulate thought.
“Amen”–This is the word for “believe”; it gives the picture of one leaning on God. It is the word of basic faith, a faith still in its infancy.
“And He took him [Abram] outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:5, 6
“Batach”–This is the picture of a wrestler bodyslamming his opponent to the mat; usually translated “trust”. The wrestling faith of spiritual adolescence when a believer has just enough knowledge of God and His Word to experience spiritual conflict.
“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. But You, O God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction; Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days. But I will trust in You.” Psalm 55:22, 23
“Chasah”–This is the picture of a rabbit seeking protection in the cleft of a rock from a pursuing wolfpack. Fleeing for refuge, it is the faith of spiritual maturity; one who understands that the Lord is his Fortress, his Stronghold, his Shield, his Deliverer (Psalm 144:2). One who relies on these attributes of God for spiritual safety to the point of acting boldly and confidently.
“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. Selah. God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.” Psalm 57:1-3
“Yaqal”–Usually translated “hope”, it is the picture of applying a healing salve to a wound, trusting under pressure and extreme pain. This is the faith that heals the spiritual wounds of a godly warrior who is advancing on the enemy.
“Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers And is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I will have hope in Him.'” Lamentations 3:19-24
“Qawah”–This is the strongest Hebrew word for faith and is usually translated “wait”. It is the picture of frail, easily broken strands woven into a cord that cannot be broken; the patient endurance that comes from weaving God’s promises, principles and doctrines found in His Word into an unbreakable faith. This is the faith of a friend of God.
“Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31
At some point, I realized I was in the back of the plane of my life, not that it came to me all at once. Gradually, I realized I was not the pilot, then I realized I wasn’t the co-pilot either. I wasn’t in the control tower. I wasn’t even the flight attendant. I was a passenger. There were things I could do to make a mess of the flight since no security door exists between me and the cockpit. More than a few times I have taken the wheel, and He lets me. After all, I had proven I could make wise choices, choices that honored Him. Why shouldn’t I be in charge of my life’s flight plan and piloting? Thankfully, He stays close by, because I eventually realize, every time, I have no clue what I am doing.
I really like the picture of weaving the thin, frail strands of God’s promises, principles and doctrines, which individually are important but incomplete, into a cord of faith that cannot be broken. This process takes time, effort, skill, strength, experience, and trust to accomplish. I find myself at a time in my life now where I am waiting on God to move me to the next leg of the journey. While we are refueling, I remember His promises, the principles of being His servant and the Biblical tenets of my belief in Him, and I slowly fashion them into a faith I know I can rely on. It is laborious, tedious work. But, more than anything, I want to be a friend of God, a passenger in my own life, following His instructions and His leading, trusting in His ability to take me safely where I need to go, on the best route possible.
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,’ and he was called the friend of God.” James 2:21-23
All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan
NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
*The information about the Hebrew words for faith comes from basictraining.org. As a whole, I do not endorse or recommend the site because of overt doctrinal errors it contains.