By-FaithHebrews chapter 11 speaks of faith throughout history. This chapter gives us witness after witness of those from the Old Testament who accomplished things “by faith.” Abel, Abraham, Moses, and so many others. This was our lectionary reading for this past Sunday.

Now, through past chapel times, you might know how much I love dictionaries and the definitions that they express. Well, Merriam-Webster defines faith as “a belief in the existence of God,” even “strong religious feelings or beliefs.” Once again, I believe Merriam-Webster sells the word “faith” short. To just say that faith is a feeling or a simple belief, does not describe this incredibly important word.

What does faith mean to you? I mean, if someone were to ask you right now what faith means to you, what would your definition be? Belief in God, belief in something that you can’t see. I am reminded of the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Indy is in search of the Holy Grail and during his travels, he encounters many obstacles. One of those was a great chasm that he needed to cross. The notes from his journal told him that only a leap from the lion’s head would a man prove his worth. It was a leap of faith. He couldn’t see the path until he took the first step. But there is so much more to it than that.

We can have a belief in many things, but it is the action we take that completes our faith. I can believe that God exists, but if I don’t act like he exists, what good is it? I can say with my lips that I believe in God, but if I live my life like he doesn’t exist, I am, like Paul expresses in 1 Corinthians, a clanging cymbal, a noisy gong. I am nothing.

There is a second part to this question of faith. It is the action part of the equation and it is required when it comes to faith in God. This second part is trust.

Indiana Jones believed in the leap of faith, he believed there was something there that he couldn’t see. But that wasn’t enough, he needed to act on that belief, he needed to take a step, a leap of faith. He needed to trust that there was something there. If we believe that when we take the first step there will be a path there, but never take the step, our faith is dead.

You may recognize the name of Florence Chadwick. In 1952, Florence was the first woman to attempt to swim the 26 miles between Catalina Island and the California coastline. As she began this historical journey, she was flanked by small boats that watched for sharks and were prepared to help her if she got hurt or grew tired.

Hour after hour Florence swam, but after about 15 hours, a thick, heavy fog set in. Florence began to doubt her ability, and she told her mother, who was in one of the boats, that she didn’t think she could make it. She swam for one more hour before asking to be pulled out. As she sat in the boat, Florence found out she had stopped swimming just one mile away from the California shoreline, her destination. Florence explained that she quit because she could no longer see the coastline-there was too much fog. She couldn’t see her goal. The fog got in the way of her faith.

If we only believe that God will provide, but do nothing but sit and wait, if we do nothing but tread water, we are in essence, not trusting that God is going to provide. We are not trusting that we will reach the other shore. Faith needs both parts, belief and trust.

So as we look at today’s passage from Hebrews, and as we hear the story of Florence Chadwick, or we think of Indiana Jones and his leap of faith, or maybe we are reflecting on our own lives, we notice some of the barriers to our faith. So I will ask you this morning; what is standing in the way of your faith, your belief and most importantly, your trust in God’s plan for your life?

What is keeping us from reaching for the plan that God has for all of us? What is it that is stopping you from accomplishing all that God has destined for you?

Brothers and sisters, by faith we can accomplish this and so much more, through Jesus Christ who gives us strength!