Harriett is a re-telling of the story of Harriett Tubman, the diminutive woman who escaped slavery by traveling 100 miles alone, without food, while being pursued by men bent on returning her to servitude. She returned several times to lead other slaves to freedom, became a leader in the Union army during the Civil War, and was a powerful voice for women in the Suffrage movement before her death in 1913.
The movie, now in theatres, includes something about her life which I never learned in my history classes – her powerful faith in God, a key part of her courage and the source of her inspiration to resist the evil, even if it cost her life. Tubman’s strength came from her faith in God as deliverer and protector of the weak. It made her fearless in the face of death and she often said “I can’t die but once!”
I reflected on this question today – Is my faith in God active and alive in a way that I am compelled by it; or is it more like a comforter that I wrap around myself to insulate me from life’s hardships?
Like me, you have a heard the Bible’s stories of faith a hundred times. David showed up at the battle lines of Israel and, inspired by his faith in the Lord, took up his slingshot to face the Philistine champion, Goliath. Noah’s faith allowed him to hear God’s direction to build an ark for the salvation of his family. The faith of those Jesus called to follow Him caused them to travel to the ends of the Empire to tell the Story of the Gospel of Christ, changing the known world in a generation, and losing their lives in the process.
In the “faith” chapter, Hebrews 11, there is this paragraph – “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Hebrews 11:32-34 (NIV) This is a description of something more than a belief that offers comfort to us in times of difficulties. What is described here is a core conviction about what is true, right, and worth living and dying for!
Peter teaches us that faith that is compelling will have a grasp of eternal life, of a kingdom come and yet to come in fullness. We are, he said, born by the Spirit “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In 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 your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:4-7, NIV)
This kind of faith will not result from just ‘trying to believe more.’ It grows in a heart that is fed the Word, nourished in worship, and that endures the days of testing with an upward look by inviting the Spirit to be at work. There is a myth that only some people are capable of faith as if faith just falls on us out of Heaven. To be sure, Faith is a work of the Spirit, but we receive faith, exercise faith, and grow in faith as we choose to walk with the Lord on a daily basis.
Harriett Tubman, though illiterate, heard the Word and let the seed grow in her until her faith compelled action. The movie, as historical dramas do, portrays her as a saint. In fact she was a flesh and blood human being, strong but also quite capable of failure. In all of her humanity, she found strength in God and we tell her story with wonder. What can God do with you? What does He want to do through you? Let faith grow and tell Him – you’re available.
Here is a word from the Word. It’s familiar, but take time to meditate on the truth here. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see … and 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 11:1, 6, NIV)
In Christ alone my hope is found\
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the power of Christ I stand
No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
Keith Getty | Stuart Townend© 2001 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) CCLI License # 810055