Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Faith

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Hebrews 11:8-10
     I don't know about you, but if I am entirely honest, I am not sure what I would do in Abraham's position. God spoke to him and told him to leave his homeland, his father's family, and everything he knew to go... where? Abraham (or Abram as he was actually called at the time) was not sure. God didn't say where; He just said that He would show him. Abraham obeyed, and so we see his name many times in the "Hall of Faith" chapter of Hebrews. He is also called "the father of all who believe," meaning that he is our father in faith if we, too, have faith. 
  
     It occurs to me as I read through this chapter of Hebrews and through Romans 4 that it was no small faith that Abraham showed with that first act of obedience. Almost everyone else had something to fall back on, some story of the faithfulness of God in the lives of those going before. Noah, perhaps, was the exception, for he also obeyed a strange command, believing God against every shred of evidence that his senses could supply that the building of an enormous boat was simple foolishness. He built anyway, and he saw the reason why later. Abraham also stepped out in faith--literally--following the prompting of God to travel around until God told him, in essence, "Here, right here is the land that I will give to your descendants, who by the way will be exceedingly numerous."  Abraham saw the fulfillment of the promised son even after he and Sarah were long past the age of childbearing. But Abraham did not see the Promised Land owned by anyone of his own blood. He died owning only the tomb he and his wife were buried in. It just struck me that there is something here of dying to the material promise to see the fulfillment of a promise that extends beyond this life! 
     That is, however, not my point. My point is that Abraham's faith for that first act must have been a deeper faith than any I could even begin to know. I have a privilege he did not. I can read and re-read the story of his life, see how God provided a son, descendants, eventually fulfilling the promise of a land belonging to his people. Furthermore, I can see how God sent the flood and saved the faithful, how He delivered his children from bondage in Egypt, how He parted the Red Sea to make a way for them. I can see how He blessed the reigns of the faithful kings and sent punishment for rebellion. I can see how He orchestrated events so that His son would enter the world at the perfect time and the perfect climate for the Gospel to spread once the work was done. When I read of the crucifixion, I already know the end and so I can see the joy that the despairing disciples could not. I can read and read and read of His faithfulness through the ages, His wonders, and His miraculous works. Surely this would give me a stronger, more vibrant faith than Abraham? Surely this being able to see what is behind would give me courage to trust in what lies ahead? 
   
     I only wish it did. I have all of these incredible documentations of His power and might at my fingertips, and I find that when it comes time for me to obey, I hesitate. I question if I really heard from God or if it was just my imagination. I doubt, I worry, I ponder, I delay.  I am more like Moses, wondering if perhaps He might send someone else, I guess. I do not have the faith of my father, Abraham. But oh, how I long for it.

     Oh my Lord! Please give me great faith, faith that does not need to see or hear Your wonders to obey. I have a puny faith, but I know that You are the giver of all good gifts. I ask that You will increase my faith, not must marginally but in leaps and bounds so that it takes my breath away. Help  me to believe You completely and without hesitation or doubt. Help me to find that You are good because I have already walked out in obedience to Your call. Give me the clarity to understand when I hear from You, the courage to obey, and the faith to follow You no matter where You lead me or what else is going on around me. This is not my country, Lord. Help me not to get too wrapped up in it but to remember that You have called me out of this world, and I sojourn here in temporary housing until that day that You call me to my permanent home with You. Father, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! Amen.