Walking by Faith
Walking by Faith
José E. Manjarrés
Whenever I think of the phrase, “live by faith and not by sight,” I can’t help but feel like a failure compared to the heroes of faith mentioned in the book of Hebrews (although the verse comes from 2 Corinthians 5). To me, the idea of living by faith looks like a selfless life, where one is in constant danger and still has a strange joy regardless of the situation. This description was anything but my life back in 2013.
That was the year when I met Lala, and to add a sense of adventure to our newly found love, her father was diagnosed with cancer a couple of months after we started dating. We exercised our faith not only by praying for healing, but mostly by understanding God’s goodness when cancer had spread all over his body, and all you can do is wait. Amid this battle, I (an unemployed recently graduated engineer) decided to propose to Lala (a full-time missionary who was far from reaching her financial support).
“This is insane. You’re too young. You’re not making enough money. You’re still living with us. What are you going to live from?” my mom said. I replied, “God will provide a way,” without the minimum understanding of what I was saying. I was pursuing a career in academia, and I wanted to be a college teacher, but all I had was a teaching assistant job with terrible hourly pay, while I spent 80% of my week looking for scholarships. In a single year, I was rejected in ten different applications. “Well, God is still good. We’re supposed to live by faith. Let’s get married!”
Against all odds, my father-in-law was able to walk Lala down the aisle, and he lived long enough to see his daughter’s first year of marriage. Three months after the wedding, God answered our prayers, and I was awarded a scholarship to start my Ph. D. studies in my hometown; which was a huge boost to our faith. Everything would have been “perfect” if we weren’t building our life in a bedroom at my parent’s house. However, we learned to focus on God’s provision and the temporary nature of the situation. Then, eternity made its claim, and Lala’s father died. This wasn’t temporary.
This devastating event led to months of silence, struggle, and questioning. Our faith was again tested, and I can’t say if we “passed” the test or not, but in the end, the hopelessness of our sin and the hope of the cross collided to bring us back to believe that God is good, regardless of the situation.
By December 2018, I knew I had to do a research internship for my doctoral studies but had no idea of where to go nor any kind of help. Three months later, after a single e-mail chain with someone from Duke University who didn’t know me, we were preparing the trip that changed our lives. Our biggest concern was about community. We had such an incredible network of friends, church, and ministry co-workers that we barely spent time by ourselves. Now, we were about to jump to a new culture, where everybody told us “you will feel alone,” “Americans are cold-hearted,” and “they don’t care about relationships.”
However, God gave us an amazing multicultural church (Waypoint Church, you guys are our favorites), new pastors/ministry leaders that served us from day one and became new role models for me (Danny and Lawrence), a great sunshine-wildflower roommate (Kaitlyn Squanda), a loving selfless friend (Emilia Sotolongo), an unconditional and absent-minded cool friend (James Shafto), an incredible small group with the most authentic leader (Joy Mikhail), the funniest roommates in history (The Carpenters), and a place that we learned to love like home (Durham). With the Colombian economy decreasing as fast as it can, and with our income becoming as limited as possible, we never experienced hunger, lack of clothes, or any kind of necessity.
During the last ten months, we’ve been more aware of how walking by faith is not something abstract reserved for biblical times but the incredible adventure of seeing God intervene in daily life to fulfill His purposes. We’ve accumulated enough experience to be sure that God will not forsake us, even if we experience hunger or lack of necessities. It is not about what He provides; it is about who He is. We have seen the faithfulness and infinite patience of our Heavenly Father who wants His people to trust Him. He uses all the Old Testament to show that intention and keeps doing it today.
Now, we’re on the verge of new changes. My Ph. D. is finished, and we can’t go back to Colombia. I’ve been applying to uncountable (pardon the hyperbole, I’m Latin-American) jobs in the area with no results. This has definitely been worse than the search for scholarships. At the last minute, just as our God likes to do it, everything changed. I have a job offer so good that it’s hard to believe that they actually wanted me. I will be an assistant professor of Engineering at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois. The problem? It’s very far from our new family in Durham. Although we celebrate God’s provision, we grieve the change, and we wonder again, “Will we feel lonely? Can God set a community this awesome for us there?” By knowing our God, we trust that He will provide these things and more because He is good, and it was His idea to take us there.
The show must go on, and the walking by faith has to continue. Lord, let our hearts be filled with trust in who You are, not what You give, so we can find contentment in our faith. Bring to our memory Your deeds, so we can live this present confidently and glorify Your name with our lives.