Slipping away from the tumult of her visiting grandchildren, she walked down the darkened hallway to her silent studio—catching her breath, startled to find someone waiting there. In a chair too big, in the middle of the room, her barely seven-year-old granddaughter sat waiting.
“Darling, what are you doing in here all alone?”
“I’m waiting for our art lesson, Grammy,” Christi answered, brightening as her grandmother finally appeared.
My mother melted with a tender pang, as she realized the weight of her words in this little girl’s heart. Earlier that morning at breakfast, she had made the casual suggestion, “Christi, what would you think of Grammy giving you an art lesson today in her studio, just the two of us?”
Neither of us knew exactly how long Christi had been waiting, looking for the promise to come.
* * *
This is an imperfect analogy of believing God, because grandmothers get distracted and forget–while God does not.
But Christi is a picture of faith: waiting with assurance, not doubting, as she held on to the body of evidence that gave her a valid basis for believing her teacher would come. After all,
- Her grandmother had told her that she would give her an art lesson and
- Her grandmother was the kind of person who would (eventually) do what she said she would
Abraham is a picture of faith, waiting with assurance, not doubting as he held on to the body of evidence that gave him a valid basis for believing that God was going to give him a son.
And Daniel—witnessing the destruction of his nation as a child, taken from his parents, fathered by God, lifted from obscurity to reveal God to Babylon’s kings, arrested, imprisoned, sentenced to death—never lost his way. He held onto the body of evidence that had been delivered to him–the Scriptures taught to him as a child. And that body of Truth increasingly grew, giving him more to hold onto. God taught him how to walk through every difficult circumstance as he listened in prayer and continued his diligent study of the Word. No matter what came upon Daniel, or how his circumstances changed, confusion never caused him to falter or waver. As he clung to the Truth, His teacher always came.
And Jesus—undergoing trial in the wilderness, seeking clarity about His mission and how He would accomplish what He was meant-to-do—was harassed by the ploys of an enemy trying to get him off point. (Matthew 4) But with each suggestion designed to throw him off—Jesus countered with Scripture, “It is written. . . “ As He held on fiercely to the body of Truth delivered to Him, His Father instructed Him with ever greater clarity.
A body of Truth has been delivered to every single one of us. A beginning to finding God, our way of holding onto Him when strong winds blow.
What holding onto the Truth does for us
A still lake reflecting the trees and sky above it captures their image perfectly, as long as its water remains tranquil. It is a picture for us, of our own ability to reflect and capture what God is showing us. But what happens when sudden winds blow, and we, like water, find ourselves churned and tossed? Troubled water breaks up that reflection, so that it becomes unrecognizable–we can no longer capture and reflect the wisdom and guidance being shown to us from all around and above. The reason that Abraham, Daniel, Moses, Elijah, Jesus, Paul and Peter and every believer down through history was able to maintain their connection to God in times of stress–was that they held onto the Truth delivered to them–stilling the soul, bringing a tranquil mind.
Holding onto the Truth gives our reflective capacity the ability to capture what God is trying to show us.
God is delivering a body of Truth into each of our lives.
That body of Truth gives us the only valid basis to believe what we do. So it is crucial for us to identify what that body of Truth is–to nail it down.
What basis do you have to believe that God is going to come when you need Him to show you what you need to know? What has He ever said that would give you a valid basis to believe that He intends to lead and teach you?
From a wealth of Scripture, what about just these two passages?
I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel.
. . . your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.
If you hold onto Scripture as having been written as a personal means for God to communicate with you—then these words will weigh far heavier in your heart than my mother’s casual suggestion weighed in Christi’s. They will nail the basis for your hope and expectation.
We have to nail the basis for our hope and expectation,
in order to hold onto the body of Truth delivered to us,
becoming that still water (faith)
capable of reflecting and capturing what our Teacher is showing.
Like all teachers, God is always adding to the body of Truth He wants us to hold onto–bringing us experiences to help us nail down a valid basis for what we believe–increasingly stretching us to hold onto Him more.
A Big Stretch, The Deaf Football Team
It was my turn to teach, and come Sunday morning, my challenge was to deliver a body of evidence that would persuade the twenty skeptical husbands in our couples’ Sunday School class that they could “hear” God. Early in the week, as I returned home from the morning’s carpool, my mind was awash with the objections I’d be facing. These men were hardcore pragmatists, who needed proof—who needed to see in order to believe.
I knew from experience that they were not open to any “weird sci-fi stuff.” Any talk about hearing God usually brought a round of gently patronizing smiles belying their inability to take my suggestion seriously. Only a precious few, mostly wives who were my friends, would be familiar with the reality I so desperately wanted them all to see.
Most of they guys would be chomping at the bit to get home for the football game that afternoon. Ahhh! Football. Now that was something real…
As I pulled into the garage, my sense of utter helplessness created an intense void in me, driving me to ask God for help. I needed an illustration that would convince my classmates of the potential they have to respond, a story that would appeal to their football mentality, speaking to them where they were. As I walked from the garage to our kitchen door, I felt a flutter of urgency to go in and turn on the radio. Not a regular listener, I had no idea what station I was supposed to tune to. But shutting the door behind me I walked across the kitchen to the sound system and hit the power button. The station that came on was the one my housekeeper played when she came to help me clean on Wednesdays.
A man named Rod Hutchcraft was describing the amazing football game he had just attended, at The Georgia School for the Deaf. As he had watched them run play after play, perfectly synchronized as a team, advancing the ball down the field, he couldn’t help but wonder how these hearing-impaired kids pulled off each play with split second timing. Taking their stance at the line of scrimmage, how did these deaf young players hear the snap count? Over the roar of the cheering crowd, Hutchcraft leaned in close to his host to ask.
The headmaster explained that the plays were sent in via sign language. But when it came time for the snap, a drummer on the side-line would give his drum a big pop. Each player knew exactly when to move by reading that pop on the skin of his own face, as vibrations carried it to him on the air.
I turned off the radio, stunned. 
I had asked for an illustration, and I was given—not only the analogy of the deaf football players reading the invisible signal sent to them on the air, but my own corresponding experience of being able to capture and reflect the unseen instruction coming to me. He was stretching us to see the two halves of what God was putting together, like the double helix of a DNA molecule, each half joined perfectly to its matching counterpart in the other.
But would the guys in my class stretch to make the necessary connections, opening their arms wide enough to embrace something bigger than they had ever before?
- Would they see how my mind had to be immersed in those specific thoughts at exactly that time on that specific morning? (God’s timely orchestrated movement on our thoughts and minds)
- Would they note the correspondence between my moment of intense helplessness, asking for the help of an illustration, and then receiving exactly what I needed? (Recognized named need prepares a place in us to receive the answer that is already on its way.)
- Would they recognize how I had discerned “the play”, responding with split second timing to the snap, turning on the radio to that particular station for that specific broadcast, to score this illustration for our class?
Would they make the connection between the God-engineered correspondences of
- me reading God’s motion in my spirit and
- each player reading the snap for the play on the skin of his face?
And if they did acquiesce to the body of evidence, would they still think, “OK, maybe God does send signals, but some people have a gift for reading them, certainly not me.”
God understands our reservation, our deep-down doubt in our ability to read the unseen. But my classmates, needed to see reality as it is—to own it—if they were going to take their place in it.
That Sunday morning, as I stood before them, I drew the illustration out, so that they could hear the most tender part of God’s message to us all.
I asked each of my friends to think about that new kid, who has just arrived, eager to play football.
“Do you feel his trepidation, as he is being told that the only way he can join the team and hope to play is if he learns how to read that beat of the drum on the skin of his face?”
I waited silently for a few moments to let that sink in, praying that they would recognize, reflect and capture that picture of themselves . . . and in doing so, hear the message, “I know your inward trepidation as you are shown this. But if you are going to get your fair share of playing time in the most important game of your life, you have got to believe it is possible. Would I have gone to this effort to orchestrate this illustration and bring it to you, if I wasn’t telling you it is for you?”
Were they, are you, going to step up and nail down the valid basis He is giving us to believe?
When we see reality as it is, we own it—
or at least we own our place in it.
And when we own our place in reality,
we will find ourselves being led and taught by God
in astounding ways.
 All of this happened many many years ago. At the time, I checked my facts, calling the Georgia School for the Deaf with my heart pounding, asking the woman who answered the phone if she could verify what I had just heard.
She laughed, assuring me, “Oh, yes, it’s all true—“ and with a note of triumph added, “Not only that, but we’ve just won the national championship for all deaf football teams!”
In recent years, they have switched to new means to communicate the snap count, but the illustration my Teacher gave me, then, still holds.