You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? [James 2:19-20 (NLT)]
When we visited our grandchildren in February, I had another opportunity to watch my granddaughter fly on the trapeze. As she practiced transferring from her fly bar into the catcher’s hands, I thought of promises. The catcher assured the flyers he’d catch them and they clearly believed him when they jumped off the platform, turned upside down and hung from their knees. Knowing his promise and believing it, however, isn’t enough to get someone from the fly bar into his hands. Once swinging through the air, my grand had to act on his promise by straightening her legs, flying off the bar and reaching into emptiness. In that moment, when she floated in the air between fly bar and catcher, her belief in the catcher became faith in him. The catcher can only make good on his promise when the flyer acts on it. Those flyers who professed to believe his words but never reached for him were left hanging upside down.
The word “promise” appears 364 times in my NLT Bible. Scholars usually say that God made more than 3,500 promises to man. In 1956, however, during his 27th reading of the Bible, Canadian schoolteacher Everett Storms catalogued 7,487 promises from God to mankind. Although I couldn’t even begin to list them all, I know that God promises provision, protection, direction, wisdom and a love that will never fail. He promises peace, forgiveness, an abundant life, salvation, Jesus’ 2nd coming, healing and eternal life. Nevertheless, even if I could recite every promise found in the Bible’s 31,173 verses and wholeheartedly professed my belief in each one of them, I still have not shown faith.
Faith requires action; it requires us to live our lives in reliance on each one of God’s glorious promises. It’s when we act on our belief, when we live our lives in dependence on God’s word, that faith is born. God can never make good on His promises if we never act on them! Of course, since my grand is still learning, she wears a safety harness in case her timing is off. When we take that leap of faith with God, however, we don’t need a harness—we can get it right the first time we do it. It’s always the right time to take our belief and act in faith on God. Without that leap of faith that propels us into God’s arms, however, we’re just hanging upside down from the fly bar!