I was reading the what people call the “Faith Hall of Fame” passage in Hebrews the other day – if you haven’t read it recently, check it out here. (Noticing lots of “faith” themes in my posts recently?! These days I’m learning all about not knowing but believing and going just the same!)
The whole passage is a challenge to my faith, but the two parts that stood out to me so clearly this time reading it were the verses that said “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8, emphasis mine) and “And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore” (Hebrews 11:12, emphasis mine).
Keeping the faith is easy in the moment of promise when you’re all amped up about what God is doing, and when it comes to pass you’re like, “oh yeah, I knew it would be fine all along!” but I for one allow so many doubts and anxieties to creep in as soon as it takes longer than I thought, was harder than I thought, or more complicated than I thought a “God thing” should be. When its that “not knowing where he was going” part, I start to question if I actually heard God, if He actually provides like I thought, or if He actually even cares about little old me. That middle ground leaves us so susceptible to the attacks of the enemy if we don’t actively exercise our faith muscle by reading the Word, REALLY talking to God about all parts of our journey, and actively proclaiming our belief in Him and what He is doing. Its not always a straight, clear and easy line from promise to fulfillment, but its that in between that challenges our faith and grows our relationship with Him, if we let it.
Does anyone remember the comic section of that old-fashioned thing called the newspaper? I remember vividly the Family Circus cartoon by Bil Keane as the child Billy wandered all around taking the longest, most circuitous route, stopping to do 25 things on the way to where he was going – we could see the beginning where he started and the end of where he was supposed to be, and could laugh at the ridiculousness of his loopy journey to get there.
I feel like sometimes our lives are the same and each stop along the way can either frustrate us or make us see God in a new way and grow our faith – sometimes God allows detours and delays so that we can learn something that will better equip us for the end destination. It takes great measures of faith to not lose hope in that in between but to see the waiting, the unknown, the convoluted as an opportunity to say “Ok, God, what is this for? What are you trying to teach me? What can be broken or changed in me to make me the person you need me to be for the next stop?”
The second part of the passage about Abraham being “as good as dead” when God made His promise to Him really spoke to me this time in a way I haven’t felt before. What do you feel is “as good as dead” in your life that you have given up praying for and hoping for because it seems like a lost cause? There are NO lost causes with God. That promise to Abraham and Sarah looked dang impossible, but the Bible even says that with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26)! He took a 90+ year old woman and a 100+ year old man who had gone a whole lifetime hoping and praying for a child, and put a bun in that ancient oven! And not even that, that bun would grow up to be the father of whole nations with so many descendants they couldn’t even be numbered. From those old dried-up people, those people that had given up, those people who had waited years and never seen a glimmer of hope that their promise was coming true, God came through in a big way and blew them out of the water and established their family as the beginning of a huge nation. And you know what? Those “as good as dead” situations are all used to God’s glory because how else can something look so spectacular? It’s when it looks so hopeless that the hand of God is revealed in a miraculous, undeniable, colorful, beautiful, huge way. Think about watching a black and white movie, and then being given the Technicolor version – those colors look 3 times as bright when they’ve been preceded by flat black and white. God brings the Technicolor to our dead situations when we continually walk by faith, pray over them without ceasing, and leave room for Him to work.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1
Believe that He is at work. Believe that He has your best at heart. Believe that He is using every single step and stop along the way to bring Him glory and to bring your good to pass. Believe!