The Life of Faith
— Allan Pole
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. As they lay down for the night Holmes said, “Watson, look up into the sky and tell me what you see.”
Watson replied, “I see millions and millions of stars.”
“And what does that tell you?” Holmes asked.
“Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Theologically, it tells me that God is great and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?” Watson inquired.
Holmes replied, “Somebody stole our tent.”
It’s amazing how two people can see the same thing but reach very different conclusions.
Abraham saw the world very differently from the people around him. Faith has a profound impact on how we look at life and the future. Abraham was in Haran at age 75 when he got the call from God to leave his home and family behind and follow God into a strange land that He would give him (see Genesis 11:27-12:9).
Thomas Cahill, author of “The Gifts of the Jews,” called the move “a complete departure from everything that has gone before in the evolution of culture and sensibility.” Abram took his wife, his nephew Lot, and his possessions, departing south into the land of Canaan—a land inhabited by a warrior people called the Canaanites. He settled temporarily in Shechem and Bethel. God told Abraham his descendants would inherit the Canaanite land (answers.com/topic/abrahamf).
Abraham is listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11:8-10.
“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. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” —NIV
We are exhorted throughout Scripture, and by many preachers today, to have faith. Faith is vitally important, and I don’t downplay its importance. However, faith based upon our own ideas and effort is presumptuous. There is a difference between our faith in God and the faith of God. Faith of God arises when we hear His voice and receive His faith.
How do I describe what God’s voice sounds like? It sounds like a frustrating, circular answer—which you need to learn to hear for yourself. How would I describe the voice of my deceased earthly father? I would show you a video and let you hear his voice for yourself. I cannot do that with God’s voice. He rarely speaks audibly—but He certainly speaks (see John 10:27). What He says will never contradict His written Word—the Bible.
Do you get impressions, urges, dreams, visions and/or images in your head that leave you wondering if the Lord is speaking to you? If yes, it is time to start weighing these with Scripture and with godly counsel. Perhaps the Lord is trying to get your attention.
What motivated Abraham to do what he did? He had a clear vision of the hereafter. As a city boy living in tents, he looked beyond his life here on earth to the heavenly city, which the Bible describes in Revelation 21 as the New Jerusalem. A clear vision makes all the difference. What is God’s vision for your life? If you know the answer to this question, how does this vision shape your priorities and the way you live each day? If you do not know the answer to this question, how do you plan to find out? Surrendering yourself to Him; reading God’s vision in His Word; embracing your God-given gifts; praying and listening to Him, and to godly counsel, will help you find the answer.
The land of Canaan would be the inheritance of Abraham’s descendants; but Abraham would only be a pilgrim there. The Bible records 17 places that Abraham visited on his journey to Canaan. Each of these places are important in the history of Israel, with ample archaeological evidence of their existence.
As we read these Biblical accounts, we tend to miss the timing in the lives of real people. The ancient city of Ur represented everything that was familiar to Abram. Imagine how difficult it would have been for him to leave his home.
I have talked to some people who would never entertain the idea of leaving their family and their hometown. Beware of closing off the possibilities of God’s leading in your life. Ironically, I am living in the area where I grew up, but not because I planned it this way. For 17 years I lived in other parts of Alberta and I remain open to the Lord calling me elsewhere. If I won’t allow the Lord to lead me anywhere, anytime—to do anything—then He is not truly my Lord.
By the time you read this many people will have made and broken their New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you set a goal, but wonder if it’s the right one. You and I could climb the ladder to success, only to realize that our ladder was leaning against the wrong building! Maybe you decided to set a goal, but discovered your inability to reach this goal. Meaningful, eternal progress is not about self-direction and self-effort, but about trusting and following the One who knows the future. Faith begins with God speaking—and ends with you obeying.