What Faith Really Means (AKA Ordinary Trust and That Time Jesus Moved Away from Home)

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It’s easy to think of the life of Jesus as one long list of supernatural extravagances:

Be born of a virgin, check. Be baptized during a heavenly visitation, check. Go toe-to-toe with Satan, check. And then it’s ministry, miracles, save the whole world, check.

Oh, and that time Jesus moved away from home.

You know, that time when things were getting kinda hot for the guys in his social circle, so he moved out of his parents’ place to go up north a bit and start over somewhere else.

You didn’t know about that?

It’s in Matthew 4:12-13. Jesus left Nazareth behind and moved a little deeper in Galilee, going to live in Capernaum. He was thirty years old. His cousin and friend had just been arrested for stirring up the same kind of trouble Jesus tended to stir up, and when Jesus heard about it, he moved away.


Why exactly? Matthew doesn’t say. Maybe it was safer in Capernaum. Maybe he wanted to get away from his old surroundings and clear his head. Maybe, on the cusp of beginning his ministry, he just wanted his home base to feel new.

What strikes me about this story is how ORDINARY it is. Jesus, moving away from home at age thirty. Jesus, responding to circumstances. Jesus, having a social circle that influenced him.

Jesus, living life like we do.


And yet Matthew mentioned that Capernaum was located in the ancient tribal lands of Naphtali, and he comments on Jesus’s move with a passage from Isaiah, written seven hundred or so years earlier:

“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”
(Matthew 4:15-16)


In this immensely ordinary event, Matthew sees the fulfillment of prophecy. He sees the epic story of light breaking into darkness. He sees the glory of God breaking into thick darkness.

Jesus moved out of his parents’ house, for apparently circumstantial reasons and not in response to a heavenly order or angelic visit.

It was such an ordinary thing to do.

Yet God worked his extraordinary purpose through it.


Living in this world as Christians–Christians who are eager to live out our purpose, to follow God, to know Christ to the fullest and be led by the Spirit in all we do–it’s easy to feel like, if we do anything just because it makes sense with our circumstances, we’re failing God somehow.

I mean, ANYBODY can move out just because it seems like the right thing to do. Surely a really spiritual, obedient, Spirit-filled believer would wait for orders from heaven.

Surely Christians are supposed to float over the realities of the world, looking down on the grit and the confusion and the . . . well, the humanness . . . in favor of a transcendent, supernatural existence.

Surely we should always know what’s going on and act with a clear purpose.

Surely that’s what a life of faith MEANS.

I remember when it first hit me that a life of faith actually meant acting, at times, without a clear reason or understanding. Sometimes it meant doing what had to be done and trusting that God was working through it somehow.

A life with God does not always look like a blazing path laid out before us: often it looks like one step after another, with just enough light to see where to put a foot down.

And sometimes not even that.



I am not very okay with this reality, but it seems that God is. He does not want my faith to be in my understanding, my spirituality, or my “clear leading of the Holy Spirit.” He wants it to be in HIM, period.

Which means that even when I don’t know why certain things are happening, or why I feel pushed to make a certain decision, I can trust that he has some hidden purpose behind it.

That because he is in me always, and because it’s by the blood of Christ that I’m accepted and right with him, I can know that even when I can’t see answers, he’s at work.

I might feel like I’m just moving across town.

He knows he’s shining a light through thick darkness, or fulfilling a purpose he’s had in waiting for seven hundred years.

I might feel like I’m running scared because something has happened in my social circles that’s got me rattled.

He knows he’s positioning me for greater impact.

I might feel like I just need to clear my head.

He knows the revelation he has in store.


The truth is we all live ordinary lives, and everything supernatural, unusual, and extraordinary God wants to do through us–and he does–will be worked out in the context of ordinary life.

Of circumstances, good and bad. Of human decisions like changing location, going to school, working a job, getting married.

Much of the time the way before us won’t be clear. Much of the time we won’t understand our road until we’re looking back. Hindsight is 20/20. Foresight is usually wrong.

God doesn’t ask us to have it all figured out. He asks us to trust.

Maybe that’s why Matthew bothers to mention this detail: because Jesus’s extraordinary life, which was about to burst onto the stage of Israel in a powerful way, was couched in ordinary trust.

Not a trust that we have it all figured out, but a trust that God does.

Whatever decisions are on your horizon today, may you be assured that God will work his purpose in and through you as you trust him.



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4 responses to “What Faith Really Means (AKA Ordinary Trust and That Time Jesus Moved Away from Home)”

  1. Elva Avatar

    I love your take on these passages.
    I’ve often felt that I should have more figured out … more clear signs. And it is as you say “just move on with it”. When I rediscovered Christ later in life, I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for a clear sign as to which denominational church I should attend … going to several different denominations waiting for His clear sign of approval. I finally got the sign … and it was, pick one and JUST GO, don’t be a spiritual bunny!
    Our relationship is with Him first, not the church or our circumstances. He will fill in the blanks if we keep the faith.

    1. Rachel Avatar

      I love that! Thanks for sharing from your story; next time I face a decision like this, I’m going to picture a little bunny sniffing its way around. lol

  2. Rachel Avatar

    That’s it exactly, Lynn! I love how you put that. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Lynn Avatar

    He took a step and moved. Sometimes I have waited for a ‘sign’ yet really it about moving in faith, not hiding out in fear of making a wrong step. He can take every step and still lead us exactly where He wants us. Thanks for this!

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