For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Right in the middle of a long statement about the body and the spirit, Paul interjects this little phrase. It seems a little out of place, and it's even in parenthesis in the KJV Bible. Yet, it is a remarkable statement.
Normally I would think of the opposite of sight as blindness and walking "not by sight" seems to indicate "walk blind." Yet, as the old saying goes, blind faith belongs to fools. I don't see "walk by faith" as stumbling around in the dark, blind and uncertain. It better be something else, I think. So, I have to ponder this a bit.
Now this is not what we are taught in the world. We are supposed to always be looking ahead, planning for contingencies, setting goals and such. This is the nature of the flesh; it always seeks self-preservation. And a good way to insure your continued existence is to always look ahead. The further you can see out into the future ahead of you, the better chance you have of avoiding any dangers and taking advantage of opportunities. That is the epitome of walking by sight, isn't it? Gather as much information about what lies ahead so that you can best prepare for it.
The world's history is full of soothsayers, star-gazers, fortune tellers and oracles that were counted on to tell everyone what the future would bring. An accurate forecaster is very prized even today. Of course, we don't usually call them "oracles" anymore. We call them "visionaries" and "planners" and "analysts" and such. It's the same thing really. They may be looking at statistical models instead of the entrails of a chicken, but the goal is the same. They want to see into the future and predict what will happen, believing that it will create the greatest chance of being able to manipulate and control their destiny.
Sadly, the attitude gets carried along with people even after they decide to follow Jesus. God's prophets are expected to be the best predictors of all, you know? In Old Testament times, if someone claimed to be a prophet and their words didn't come true, they got killed. That certainly takes all the fun out of it. You are either absolutely right or absolutely dead. So that means that if we study and study all those prophecies and figure it all out down to the smallest detail, we can avoid all the obstacles and better control our destiny. Right?
Let's see - if we know who the Anti-Christ is and what the mark of the beast is and what 666 means and when Daniel's 70th week will be fulfilled and what seals have been opened and what trumpets have blasted and whether we will have a pre-trib/mid-trib/post-trib catching away or not then we will never be sucked in by the adversary! Well, I wouldn't count on that if I were you. The Adversary can create all manner of confusion and false fulfillment of false interpretations.
Unfortunately, I see a lot of Bible prophecy junkies all over the place that are doing the same thing the world is doing - walking by sight. I'm not really trying to offend anyone and I'm certainly not against studying Bible prophecies. God gave those things to us for a reason. But the attitude we take towards prophecy and foretelling of what the Father will do is very important. If the goal is to figure it all out so that we can be in control, that is not faith. It is the carnal mind still at work, trying to control its own destiny. We walk by faith, not by sight. We don't walk blind but we are not to be trying to figure out every detail about the future either. It's like this:
When I was much younger I did some backpacking. When you go backpacking you gather up everything you can think of that you need to survive, cram it all into a bag that gets strapped to your back and go walking off into the wilderness. Strange to say, it was actually fun. One of the lessons I learned doing that is: stick to the trail. Oh, we had maps and all that, sure. Very good maps, in fact, that showed every little detail of the land. With a compass you could just about figure out where you were all the time. Nevertheless, you always stick to the trail.
The trail was laid out by people who knew the area well and knew how to avoid all the obstacles and other problems that a backpacker could encounter. When you are two days out from civilization in an area you don't know very well it's best not to take too many chances, you know? We hear stories now and again about hikers that get lost, caught in a storm and never make it back alive. Sometimes it is because they did not watch the weather (signs of the times, so to speak) but usually it's because they didn't stick to the trail.
So that's how I think of walking by faith and not by sight. You trust the one who built the trail. It's helpful to know where you are on the trail, but as long as you watch for the landmarks, guide stones and other trail markers, you don't get lost along the way. Think of walking through a dense forest where you can't see more than a few yards down the trail at any time. There are curves and hills and switchbacks. There are also cliffs and boulders and cul-de-sac places where you can get trapped. But, even though you can't see all the dangers, you know they will be avoided if you stay on the trail. You don't have to see all the way to the end of the trail. You only need to see where the next step is. And that isn't that hard if you pay attention.
And so it is for those who walk by faith. We walk with eyes wide open, confident of the trail we are on and sure that it will take us home. We have this trust not because we see all of the trail ahead but because we trust the one who made the trail. Jesus is our trailblazer. He is the one who knows the way home. He has already been there and back and we just have to follow as he leads. Follow the trail the trailblazer left behind. That's walking by faith and not by sight.