The scenery changes when you walk backwards. Things just look differently when you are approaching from the opposite direction. Walking backward doesn’t alter the circumstances that make up the landscape of life, it simply changes your perspective of them.
In Biblical terms, this is referred to as walking by faith, not by sight.
I realize that none of us are likely to fall off our chairs at the profoundness of this revelation, but maybe we should. It is truly revolutionary. I think this scripture has been used in ways that have stolen depth from its meaning. On one hand we over-generalize and reduce this passage to signify little more than our belief in an invisible God. On the other, we invoke it narrowly in the context of believing in God for big, impossible things. But “walking by faith” is way more intrusive than either of these applications suggest.
Faith is defined in Hebrews as the essence or substance of things unseen. The unseen is described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 2 as that which is eternal. Conversely, what is seen is only temporary. And it is on the eternal and unseen that we are urged to “fix our eyes.” To put this together, we do not fix our eyes and walk according temporary things that we can see, but eternal things that we can’t see.
Moreover, to “fix our eyes” and “walk” entails more than professing belief in a deity or conjuring up the spiritual for guidance on major life decisions or to provide a matrix through which to process difficult life circumstances. Although these are certainly a part of it, the call is to reorder our very existence in accordance with an altered reality–one where the things that appear so touchable and permanent are fleeting, while the things that seem remote and unattainable are in fact the most real and enduring.
Ever met someone you thought “marched to the beat of a different drum?” Someone who made decisions and reacted to life in ways that seemed to fly in the face of social norms and conventional expectations? People like this just seem to see things differently than everyone else. I think this is exactly what it looks like when we “walk by faith.” We interpret our circumstances, react, and relate to the world in a way that won’t make sense to those who don’t know Christ. At times, it might even seem illogical and unnatural (in a Jesus kind of way).
It is certainly not easy, in world where fitting in is often prized above sticking out, to desire being counted among those whose drums beats differently … but we ought to wish it. As Christ-followers, the drum we march to is different. It is also invisible to many, and its eternal rhythm unheard. How we march, therefore, is some of the most compelling proof we have of its existence.