Only God can craft recurring, progressive trial-lessons of faith that each time teeter on the edge of the precipice of triumphant success or utter calamity…in order to engineer the production of true faith and all of the new, previously uncharted territory of issues this entails (Gen. 45:3-8; Est. 4:16). Like the early disciples of Jesus, Spirit-born Christians today find ourselves also saying to God: “Lord, increase our faith” (Lk. 17:5). When faced with a daunting challenge…when outward circumstances appear to be hopeless and we have exhausted our own efforts…we cry-out like the desperate father in Mark 9:24…”Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
When we ask God to increase our faith, we are really asking God to set in motion some future series of events and circumstances in our lives…or a specific solution to a dilemma we are currently facing…that will actively generate through first-hand experience a closer relationship bond with God.
This in essence is what Jesus is answering in response to Philip’s request: “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us” (Jn. 14:8). Jesus says: “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest then, Show us the Father? (Jn. 14:9).
Jesus here is telling Philip and the disciples that faith is a component of personal relationships…synonymous with trust, dependence, and need…built on time spent together and shared experiences (Immanuel…meaning “God with us”). When God gives us a divinely crafted adventure of faith…on a micro (short-term) or macro (long-term) basis…as patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith…He is giving us Himself.
But God is also giving us improved technique…based upon repetitive practice. Like a world-class track-and-field sprinter asking his or her coach to improve their time in the 100-meter dash by 3/10ths of a second, the route to finding this athletic improvement is through better technique and training…achieved on the track, in the weight-lifting room, and in studying past races in the film room…long before we win the race.
The real-life reality of a God-composed adventure of faith transcends far above the confines and limitations of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…validating the divine origin of the Bible and biblical faith…for the highest reasons imaginable.