Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Do you remember that childhood game often played at birthday parties? A picture of a tailless donkey hung upon a wall as a blindfolded participant given a tail with a piece of tape was spun around several times to assure adequate vertigo, then given the task to attach the tail as anatomically correct as possible. Squeals of delight and laughter would abound watching the poor misguided child fumbling to locate the donkey. Truth be told, I loathed that game. Unless a sympathetic friend in the audience gave any clues as to where to place that donkey’s tail, I felt as though I were lost in some oblivion as I feared walking aimlessly with very little chance of success.
Until recently, I viewed FAITH very much in the same way as Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Reading the first chapter of Hebrews, recounting the Heroes of the FAITH and their stories have inspired countless believers. I just got a little stuck on the first verse. “Now FAITH is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I understood the not seeing things in life, like being blindfolded, and hoping for positive outcomes, like wanting to win the game and get that silly donkey’s tail in the perfect spot. I had difficulty with the having no clue on which direction to set out on, when to go, how to go about it, and what if-what if-what if. My “stuckness” in the verse was my own misunderstanding of what FAITH is and how it works, not as a game feeling lost in some oblivion of the fear of walking aimlessly with very little chance of success, but of confidence and trust in One I can hear.
Hearing is key. Romans 10:17 NKJV says, “So then FAITH comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. You want faith? Listen to what God is saying. He speaks through His Word, the Bible, in our thoughts, and through others when those words are congruent with the ultimate authority of His Word. Perhaps it is easier to grasp hearing God when you read the Bible or listen to a teacher or pastor speaking because what you read or heard seems to resonate personally. What about hearing God in your thoughts or in your spirit? Maybe you are not too sure about that. Most of the time, we do not hear the voice of God owing to the fact we choose to listen to other things-distractions, time pressures, schedules, social media, entertainment etc. as these draw our focus and attention away. God is relational. He always hears us, yet longs to be listened to as well. Habakkuk demonstrated this principle beautifully. Habakkuk 2:1 states, “I will stand my watch, And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected.” Habakkuk stood his watch doing that which God asked him to do. This demonstrated his obedience. He then set himself on the rampart. A rampart is a protective barrier. In Hebrew, the word is matsor meaning siege enclosure or entrenchment. Like Habakkuk, we need to purposefully go to a quiet protected place and commune with God. Next we watch, we wait, and listen for God’s voice. Not if He will speak to us, but expecting Him in our stillness to see what He will say. We observe attentively in an unhurried fashion. When we do hear the still small voice of the Lord, He corrects us lovingly, pointing out His good plans and purposes. Habakkuk chose to prepare his heart and answer to God’s correction.
One promise from God, given by the prophet Isaiah, assures us although we may not be able to see what is ahead; our FAITH is not predicated on sight, but on what we can hear. Isaiah 30:21 says, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” FAITH is not at all like the game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. We are not left to ourselves blinded in a state of vertigo, pushed to navigate the unknown, clueless to every question entering our minds. We have One guiding us by His gentle whisper with each step we take. As long as we listen to His voice, our confidence and trust soars. How could we possibly go wrong? The Heroes of the FAITH could not see how God was going to move in their lives; however, they could hear, and the annals encourage us to carry the same FAITH. This key of hearing has unlocked a whole new concept of FAITH for me. No longer am I stuck in fear and a misunderstanding of FAITH. Helen Keller is quoted, “Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.” I would add that our choice to be spiritually deaf separates us from God. Choose to hear Him today. He is speaking. As you listen, FAITH grows.