Our heroes in the Bible are normal people who had faith in God. They also had feet of clay, yet God still used their faith to do great things. They sinned like the rest of us do. They disappointed God at times. They struggled with faith. The Bible doesn't hide their sins and shortcomings but makes sure we know both the good and bad about their journeys of faith. Despite their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, God used many of them to do great things. God did all this so we could know that he can use us in mighty ways despite our weaknesses and failures.
James Nored's video reminds us that Abraham responded with great faith to God's call. His faith didn't mean that Abraham never had doubts. That faith didn't mean that Abraham never sinned. That faith didn't mean that Abraham never questioned God. He did have doubts and fears. He did sin. He did question God. Despite all of this, Abraham is still known as "the father of all who believe" (Romans 4:11).
Abraham repeatedly demonstrated great faith in God despite his circumstances and challenges. There are, however, times when Abraham sinned. There are times when Abraham grew impatient and tried to fix things that didn't seem to be working in the way he thought they should happen. There are times when Abraham questioned God, "Sovereign LORD, what can you give me...?" (Genesis 15:2).
So, what does this say to us about our faith?
Life can be wonderful. Our faith can appear to "pay off" for us in material and temporal blessings. Life can also be hard and confusing and heartbreaking and discouraging. Our faith can appear to not "pay off" for us at all.
Behind all the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, victories and defeats, moments of strong faith and moments of doubt, God's love and faithfulness never wavers. We may not know what he is doing in our lives. We may not understand why things are not happening as we thought they should. Even still, God's love for us and his patience towards us is as unfailing as it is gracious.
Life is a journey full of twists and turns as well as high points and low valleys. We don't arrive at our destination without some challenging moments and heartaches, along with some lapses of strength and character. Transformation happens on the journey. It does not happen in a moment. Paul put it this way:
And we all, who... contemplate [and reflect] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Our journey of faith can be like Abraham's: a transformation of "ever-increasing" glory. The emphasis should be on the "ever-increasing" part. The "ever-increasing" part only happens when the Holy Spirit has the lead in our dance (Galatians 5:22-25). Spirit-led living is a dance on the precipice of life on our journey of transformation. Will we let the Spirit lead the dance or will we?
We will face times when we need to cry out to God in our confusion, grief, hurt, difficulty, discouragement, and wavering faith. Like Abraham, we may even cry out to God, "What can you give me?"
That does not mean we've lost our faith. Instead, we are honestly searching for answers from God because our lives are defined by our faith in God. As our Father in heaven demonstrated with Abraham, he is not quick to judge, punish, destroy, or deny the deepest questions of our hearts (Psalm 86:15; Nehemiah 9:17). Instead, he patiently, gently, and graciously works with us to keep our faith alive and point us in the direction of his glory. Our job is to stay on the journey and be honest with God.
Thankfully for believers, life is a motion picture written by grace. It is dynamic, not static. It is ever moving and changing. God looked at Abraham's motion picture, his journey, and called him "the father of all who believe"! Abraham's life reminds us that the issue is whether we will continue our journey with God and if we are honest with God about where our hearts are while we are on the journey.
Abraham did both. The question that remains is simple: Will I?
Here's Phil's video reflection on Abraham's journey, and our own:
If you are reading this via email, you are encouraged to view Phil's video online.
Check out questions for reflection and discussion, along with James video.