I recently lead a short term missions team from our church to work with an urban ministry Galveston, Texas. When you think of missions trips, Galveston isn't necessarily the first place that comes to mind, but it ended up being a good week, away from the normal routine of life, seeing God at work in a new context. And just like He’s done with every other short-term missions trip I’ve been on, God used this trip to gently re-adjust my perspective, and I came home refreshed and ready to continue in my walk of faith.
But God doesn’t just refresh me, He also does a great work in the other folks who go on these short-term missions trips. Sometimes people are hoping for a reconnection in their walk with God, and others go hoping to be radically transformed. God is always faithful to show Himself to us on these trips, and meet us right where we are - but the real challenge comes when we get home. It can be discouraging to watch as people return to their normal routines, the passion for serving God begins to fade, and within a few days some of the folks have slipped back into the same patterns of life from before they left home. That’s why, when we’re on the trip, I try to focus on the idea that what we do on our trip shouldn’t really be different than what we do at home. Each day we should be walking by faith.
I don't really think it's a coincidence that the phrase "walk by faith," is so often used in Scripture. Although the Bible does talk about running with endurance, we never read about the "sprint of faith", instead, it tells us to "walk" by faith. “To sprint” may mean you can go all out with a burst of energy, but you won’t last long. However, "to walk" indicates that it's a continual, regulated and repetitive action. It's a "slow and steady" sort of thing.
But of course, we like things fast. We have microwaves, e-mail, cell phones, and instant messaging - all geared toward making our lives easier and quicker. And that's why, when it comes to our spiritual lives, so many of us struggle because there's no "hyper drive" to achieving a consistent, steady, enduring “walk of faith”. As a result, many of us have these bursts of energy and for a short while, we run hard with God. And then we collapse. It can happen after a mission trip, or a time of repentance after a season of sin, or even an inspiring sermon – we take off enthusiastically, but all too soon we get tired and stop.
So what we need to do is to learn what it means to truly "walk with God" - to have the regular, continual, repetitive motion in our lives of simply putting one foot in front of the other, keeping our eyes on God, and following Him. Whether we're at home, or on the mission field, it's the same thing - we walk with God. In Romans 1:17 the Apostle Paul tells us that, "the righteous shall live by faith". So it's not by emotion - not by fear - and not by worries. It's by faith – decision by decision, step by step.
Now I know that sometimes it seems like nothing's happening in terms of our spiritual growth. There are days when we don't really feel like we're changing, because as we look at ourselves every day, we don't necessarily see any changes. But if we persevere and walk by faith day by day, month by month, and year by year, we will be transformed. And our faith will be built and strengthened as we look back and see how far God has brought us in our walk with Him.
So today, let’s take a minute and pray that God will help us to walk by faith - day in, and day out - learning to trust and follow Him every step of the way.