Now and then I shut my eyes and walk about my home as if I were blind. Odd, I know, but this does produce an appreciation for sight. It also makes me more aware of what it means to walk by faith . . .
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:6–7)
However, walking by faith is not the same as blindness. When blind, nothing is visible. All is dark and other senses heighten so the blind person can function, but still must depend on dogs, canes, and other people.
Faith does not need eyes or smell or touch. Yet “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) Without being able to hear the word of God, faith would be impossible.
Problems arise when I become overly-dependent upon those other senses. I want to see what God is doing, hear His voice, be aware of His presence in my situation. Verses that tell me to walk by faith, not by sight, are reminders that I must continue doing as He asks even though there is no spiritual insight or sense of Him at work. When that happens, I feel as if I am ‘plodding’ along in pitch darkness.
Chambers refers to this as a discipline. He says that God is at work trying to make me do my duty without fanfare, a sense of inspiration, no halo about my head, no high-flying spirituality. Those things feel good and make me want to serve God, they easily side-track me. Instead of walking in obedience, I want those emotional and physical rewards, and if they are not there, I start thinking God is not with me and I cannot carry on. This is not walking by faith.
For most of my Christian life, I’ve looked forward to those high spots, the times of God’s blessing, answered prayer, events that I can tell others about where God made His presence and power known. While this is part of Christian living, it cannot be the focus. If I want to walk with God, sometimes that walk will be in darkness. My eyes will be shut to eternal matters and I might not sense His hand in mine. There may not be any answers to prayer, or at least answers that I can see.
During these dark spells, heaven seems to be shut and yet the Word of God says it is not. God may seem as if He is gone, but He said He would never leave me or forsake me. If I fall into walking by sight and wanting evidence that God is with me and doing something, then I need the discipline of darkness, of walking by faith and depending only on His Word and His promises.
Sometimes the learning curves are so steep and the darkness so gloomy that I feel I will fall off the curves and get lost in the blackness. But no matter how I feel, God is there – faith tells me so.