‘Put yourselves to the test and judge yourselves, to find out whether you are living in faith. Surely you know that Christ Jesus is in you? — unless you have completely failed. ‘ 2 Corinthians 13:5
When faced with a challenge, as human beings we are wired either to fight or flee. This is no different from our walk of faith. Every day, our walk demands that we boldly profess, or action our faith. Although sometimes, when we become overwhelmed by the ability to stand on what we believe, running away is the best possible option. The danger with choosing to flee is that you can run away from God’s will because you have convinced yourself that where you are is not where you need to be in that season. We even find ourselves boycotting the very same seasons God is bringing our way.
Have you ever taken a shortcut on the path God set out for you out of fear of staying in a certain place for too long?
Some five 5 years ago I remember thinking of becoming a missionary. It certainly wasn’t what God was calling me to do, but at that moment, it seemed right. My plan ticked all the right boxes. I was in a very hurtful, depressing, and confusing time in my life, and focusing on someone else seemed like a good exercise or escape rather. Whilst the plan was well-meaning, the intention was not so commendable, because, at the root of it, I was running away without even knowing it. Escapism is the tendency of fleeing certain painful or unpleasant realities whilst indulging in a fantasy or ideal. For some, the idea of escape has led to life-altering and regrettable decisions, which at that moment looked like faith when in actual fact were moments of escape. Faith on the other hand is the assurance, the conviction, and trust for the things we desire or hope for, although not necessarily seen. Having said this, how do you know for sure if you are stepping out in faith or simply running away?
Here are three (3) ways to tell faith from escapism:
There is an instruction from God accompanying your decision
‘ The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].’ Psalm 37:23
What differentiates faith from fleeing is an instruction from God. If you look at the lives of the patriarchs of faith you will realize that each decision of faith was backed up by a directive from God. Many of us today make decisions that are not in line with the will or word of God and still call it faith. All works of faith align with God’s word, whether that be verbal or written. God assigned the Israelites to destroy the city of Jericho. Instead of simply taking down the gates, God gave specific instructions that they should march around the city with armed men for six days. And on the seventh day, march seven times before blowing trumpets.
The flight: Surely one would have thought if we simply attack in one day, we save six days.
The fight of faith: Instead they obeyed God to the tee, and destroyed the city as God had assured them.
Decisions are not a function of the environment
‘For our life is a matter of faith, not of sight. ‘ 2 Corinthians 5:7
Decisions of escape are usually driven by fear of what the current environment looks like and how that will become your norm. Alternatively, because faith is founded on a green light from God, there is assurance even when nothing is going as expected. Take, for example, Isaac, there was a great famine that hit his place of residence at the time. He was preparing to leave when God spoke to him.
The flight: He could have easily left, out of fear of dying from starvation during the famine
The fight of faith: He chose to obey after God had told him to stay.
You will have exceeding peace
‘Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus. ‘ Philippians 4:6-7
A step of faith is backed up by the peace of God that exceeds all human comprehension. Although the decision we make may seem foolish and beyond human reasoning, because our steps are directed by God, there is an overwhelming peace that follows steps of faith. The bible tells us about Hannah who had been grieving and crying out to God for a child. Penninah, her rival, kept provoking her because she had no children.
The flight: She could have continued crying out in that state of misery.
The fight: Instead, she prayed, wiped off her tears, and was at peace
Before you make the next decision, I encourage you to weigh it out to check where you stand, whether in faith or fear.