How do you walk by faith?

Published on 11. Aug, 2013 by in Sunday Homilies

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A few years ago, at the Christian Family Camp that I returned from last week, the theme centered around being a leader after the heart of Jesus. In a small group following the session, a man named Paul Staelens said an insightful thing for me. “Prayer and Leadership after the heart of Jesus is more than saying to God – “here’s my idea. I hope that you go with it…” As the small group talked, we wrestled more and more with that struggle. How do you know where God is leading you? How can you be sure that what you are contemplating is what God has in mind for you?

..faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen…

Isn’t walking in faith something more like this? I spoke to my friend whose husband has ALS. Ann says it is advancing more quickly that either of them thought and then the doctors had hoped. As hard as that was for me to hear, I am sure it was more difficult for her to say it. And as we talked, I heard, not the doubt of disbelief, but a kind of quiet courage in her voice. She and Dave are still praying for a miracle. But if that does not happen, then she is trying to figure out what her next steps are, in terms of caring for her husband and watching over the kids. And what I heard God whispering to me in the midst of that was a gentle invitation. “Bill, you need to do what you can to walk with her and Dave in this part of the faith journey. Make sure you make time to do that.” And though the only ‘evidence’ of this unseen call is that feeling in my gut, the more I sit with that conversation in prayer, that response seems the only faith-filled response possible.

..faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen…

The 11th chapter of Hebrews – is an extended meditation on this faith which we walk by. And it is fascinating to see how the author deals with it. After his one sentence ‘definition’, rather than expound upon it, he simply gives us a description of two people who did it well – Abraham and Sarah. Let me show you what it looks like to walk by faith – to have that confident assurance concerning what we hope for, conviction about things we do not see.

You see, I have this image of an aged Sarah and Abraham together in the tent. Sarah is on her death bed and they are still not in the promised land. They look back over their lives and their journeys and with a bemused shaking of the head Sarah says: What a life it’s been! And then, wondering aloud, she asks the question: Did we do this right? Were we faithful to the one who called us? And Abraham, eyes tearing up in remembering of both hardship and joy, retells the story and the peak moments of what they have done and learned…

In your prayer this week, I invite you to pull out this section from the letter to the Hebrews – and look at the model of Abraham and Sarah for insight into your own walking by faith. Three things jumped out at me..

1) Like Abraham and Sarah, who looked to the City God would establish:  Do I live each day thinking: I’ll be one day closer to eternity by the time today is over? And do I live accordingly?
2) When things are difficult – disease hits a family member, tragedy strikes, jobs are difficult to come by, a desired child is never conceived – like Sarah, can you trust that God is worthy yet of trust – even when human wisdom says God is absent? (And lest you think this was easy for them, God promises descendents when Abram was 90 – Isaac was born THIRTY years later!)
3) Will you live the life of a spiritual nomad – dependent when temptation strikes for aid – asking for it in the moment of desire; will you travel lightly through this world – perhaps not clinging to possessions – to material things, so that your brothers and sisters might have enough…

Walking by faith is a lot more difficult than saying to God: “Here’s my idea, I hope you go along with it…” Like Abraham and Sarah, may we have the courage to make our journey – faithfully, each step of the way…

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