My fifteen-month-old niece just learned to walk. In the beginning, she would only take a step if you held her hand, but as soon as you let go, she would sit down. Next, she started using a baby walking toy, which gave her the confidence of still holding on to something but not relying on a person to hold her hand. Then, finally, with a tentative look on her face, she took her first independent steps. I love watching her walk! Knees bowed. Arms stretched out for balance. Head tilted slightly forward. Wobbly step after wobbly step. I’ve been following Jesus for almost seventeen years now, and if I am honest, I still feel like a toddler in the faith—learning, like my niece, to walk each day, step by step, situation by situation.
Life isn’t easy. It’s full of the unknown and unexpected. Grief, loss, fear, doubts, and hardship are part of life, part of the human experience. And faith is forged in times like these. But much like a toddler learning to walk, our journey is rarely without some missteps, bumps, and bruises along the way. Some days, I feel steady and secure—unrattled—whether I’m facing a medical diagnosis or a financial crisis. Other days, I am full of “what ifs” and fear of the unpredictable—whether I’m facing a new season in life or a hard conversation with someone I love. But the good news is that God knows our frailty, and he is undeterred by it. Instead, he welcomes and uses it.
Scripture tells the story of a rag-tag band of believers—men and women whom God used even though they exhibited a far from perfect faith. Elijah saw fire from God engulf a drenched altar and defeat 450 prophets of Baal, and yet fear and weariness led him into the wilderness—literally and figuratively—despairing to the point of death. Mary of Bethany knew Jesus—his power, love, compassion, and miracles—and yet, his delayed return resulted in Lazarus’ death and left her reeling with grief and questions. The disciples spent many hours with Jesus, hearing him teach and witnessing his power. But when Jesus slept in the boat while the storm raged around them, they succumbed to the fear that Jesus would let them drown. And in the silence of Saturday, with a dead savior in a tomb, the disciples grieved—not as those with hope, but as those for whom all hope seemed lost.
From beginning to end, Scripture reveals a perfect God who accepts the imperfect faith of imperfect people. We’re in "good" company. If God didn’t reject them, loved them, accepted them, and even used them, we can trust—by faith—that in his grace, he is doing and will do the same for us. So whether you are drinking milk, feasting on meat, or just hoping for some crumbs, there is room at the table for you. Jesus is the author AND sustainer of your faith (Heb. 12:2). He is the one who promised to complete the work he began in you (Phil. 1:6). He has promised to keep you strong to the end and to bring you fully and finally into his grace (1 Cor. 1:8-9). So while his grace may not always feel overwhelming, it is always sufficient for the moment you’re in.
You may feel like your faith is weak and wobbly, but don’t despair. No matter how long you’ve been following Jesus, we’re all still toddlers who are learning how to walk by faith. It’s just one step at a time. Keeping your eye on Jesus. Because it’s not the quality or quantity of your faith that sustains you. What sustains you is the object of your faith, and his name is Jesus!
"He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful."
1 Corinthians 1:8-9
Women’s Discipleship Advisor
This month, we are reading Hebrews 11. As you read, pay attention to the following:
- Who are the people included in this passage?
- What are some of their stories in other parts of Scripture?
- How does this passage describe them?
- What do you learn from considering both their stories and how they are described in Hebrews 11?
If you want to go deeper, we have provided a resource to help you look at each of these men and women in the context of their story and how God used imperfect people with imperfect faith. You can access this resource here or in the Move section.
This passage has been called the “Faith Hall Of Fame.” When read that way, we can mistakenly internalize it as a “bootstraps” form of spirituality—mustering faith up in our own strength—and white-knuckling our way through the ups and downs and uncertainties of life. However, when you consider Hebrews 11 across the span of each person’s life, it becomes clear that these men and women were not exceptional, beacons of strength with an indestructible faith. Instead, they were ordinary people—people whom God used even though they exhibited far from perfect faith.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.”
Getting Out | Tim Keller Sermon at The Gospel Coalition Conference
We often evaluate our faith by its quality, but that is not how the Scripture describes the faith of our ancestors. In this conference session, Tim Keller discusses Exodus 14—the iconic passage of the Israelites' escape from Egypt and their journey through the Red Sea.
“The Israelites all crossed over, but that doesn’t mean that they all crossed over with the same disposition.”
We encourage you to use these conversation starters as a means of self-reflection and for discussion within your community.
- How would you describe your faith in this current season of life? Fragile and weak? Growing? Strong and secure? What are the circumstances that are impacting this season for you?
- When you feel like a spiritual toddler, what do you rely on to steady you?
- Think back to a time when your faith felt weak. What were the circumstances? Did God feel present or distant; active or inactive? What did you think/feel about yourself?
- Now, in retrospect, how do you feel about that situation? Do you see how God was present and active, even though you may not have felt it at the time? How did that situation end up?
What did you learn about God? How did it impact your faith?
Scripture warns us not to be just hearers of the Word but to be doers of it as well. All of life is repentance. What is a believable next step God is calling you to take in response to all you’ve learned? Pick one or two of the below steps to take.
- Last month, we talked about fixing our eyes on Jesus. What are some ways you can do that when you feel like a spiritual toddler?
- Take a look at these two lists of people described in Hebrews 11:
What surprises you about this list?
We often apply a faulty spiritual if/then equation to our faith, which leads us to believe that our faithfulness will exempt us from pain and disruption. If I do this, then God will do X. What are the harmful implications of this view, and how does this list contradict that line of thinking?
What encouragement does this passage give you as you think about your own journey of faith?
- Download this new resource to help guide you through a deeper examination of the men and women listed in Hebrews 11.
For Further Study:
Get Out | Article by Tim Keller