What is a leap of faith?

leap of faith
Question: "What is a leap of faith?"

Answer:
The book of Hebrews is an excellent place to find answers to our questions about faith. Chapter 11 begins with this short definition of faith: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

What, then, is a leap of faith? The term leap of faith is not found in the Bible. It is a common idiom, though. Usually, to take a leap of faith means “to believe in something with no evidence for it” or “to attempt an endeavor that has little chance of success.” Leap of faith actually originated in a religious context. Søren Kierkegaard coined the expression as a metaphor for belief in God. He argued that truth cannot be found by observation alone but must be understood in the mind and heart apart from empirical evidence. Since we cannot observe God with our eyes, we must have faith that He is there. We jump from material concepts to the immaterial with a “leap of faith.”

Continuing in Hebrews chapter 11, we find an impressive list of men and women in the Bible who took a “leap of faith,” as it were. These are just a few of the people mentioned who took God at His Word and trusted Him to do what He had promised:

By faith, Noah obeyed God and built an ark to save his family from the flood (Genesis 6:9 – 7:24). By faith, Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son, believing God would provide a lamb (Genesis 22:1–19). By faith, Moses chose to side with the Hebrews rather than stay in the Egyptian palace (Exodus 2 – 4). By faith, Rahab risked her life and sheltered enemy spies in her home (Joshua 2:1–24).

Throughout the rest of Scripture, the stories of the faithful continue. By faith, David confronted a giant with only a sling and a stone (1 Samuel 17). By faith, Peter stepped out of the boat when Jesus invited him to come (Matthew 14:22–33). The accounts go on and on, each story helping us to understand the biblical meaning of a leap of faith.

Exercising faith in God often requires taking a risk. Second Corinthians 5:7 tells us, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” But a biblical step of faith is not a “blind” leap. Our faith is backed by assurance and certainty. Faith is soundly supported by God’s promises in His Word. A leap of faith is not an irrational impulse that causes us to jump out into the great unknown without any foresight. According to the Word of God, believers are to seek counsel from godly leaders (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22; 24:6). Also, Christians are to acquire wisdom and direction from God’s Word (Psalm 119:105, 130).

The stories in the Bible exist for a reason. Our trust and faith grow stronger as we read these accounts of God’s powerful deliverance and rescue in times of need. God miraculously delivered Joseph from slavery and placed him in charge over all of Egypt. God transformed Gideon from a coward to a courageous warrior. These Bible characters took leaps of faith because they trusted in the God who was powerful enough to rescue them, hold them up, and not let them fall (see Jude 1:24).

Putting our faith into action may feel like a scary leap, but that is part of the testing and proving of our faith: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:6–9; See Hebrews 11:17 also).

Stepping out in faith requires trusting God to do what He has already promised in His Word, even though we may not see the fulfillment of His promise yet. Genuine faith, belief, and trust will move us to action.

A leap of faith might mean leaving the safety of your comfort zone. Peter abandoned his safety and comfort when he jumped out of the boat to walk on water to Jesus. He could take that leap of faith because he knew his Lord and trusted that He was good: “The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (Psalm 145:9). When Jesus said, “Come,” Peter exercised childlike faith, the type of faith we are all called to possess: “But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’” (Luke 18:16).

When we demonstrate authentic trust in God, we know that our “leap of faith” is actually a leap into His all-powerful and loving arms. He delights in our trust and rewards those who earnestly pursue Him: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Recommended Resource: Tame Your Fears: And Transform Them Into Faith, Confidence, and Action by Carol Kent

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