Last summer I went on a long-distance trip. My hubby and I ventured to Colorado, and on to Indiana to see relatives. It was a wonderful 17 days away from home exploring, hiking, driving across large parts of the country, and visiting family! Neither of us had been to Colorado before, and I fell in love with Summer Colorado. (I’m not interested in Winter Colorado…..snow is a four letter word in my book!) When we got to Indiana, I saw Lightening Bugs, or fireflies, for the first time! All in all, it was a terrific trip, one we’d like to do again someday.
Before we left on the trip, we spent months planning it. We mapped and re mapped routes. We viewed our hotel options along the way. We checked into what sights we wanted to visit as we traveled. We looked to see the freeways and highways we would use to make our route the fastest and most direct. We checked the weather. And we considered what cities to stay overnight in that might be the safest as tried to avoid the “big cities” as much as possible. We ultimately planned out as many details as we could foresee needing to, ensuring that everything was “just right” for our big adventure. That seems logical and smart, doesn’t it?
But when it comes to the adventure that is our faith, being logical and smart is only a part of the equation.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. We can take courage from those words. But verse 2 provides us with some inspiring words as well. “This is what the ancients were commended for.” Let’s look at one of those “ancients”.
Abram. You may best remember him as Abraham, the father of many nations. Father Abraham, as the song goes, had many sons. There was much that God wanted to do IN and THROUGH Abram. But before God could truly work in Abram’s life, he needed to relocate. Up until that time, Abram had a decent life. He lived with his immediate family, in his homeland, the place where he grew up. He had roots in the community, and he had extended family there. He had work, a full life, and he was comfortable. But in Genesis 12 God speaks to Abram. “The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” It’s that last line that gets me.
Go to the land I will show you.
WILL show you. Not HAVE shown you. But WILL, future tense. I find this part of scripture astounding. Abram didn’t have a map, he didn’t check for stops along the way, he didn’t check the weather. He didn’t even know where he was going! He just went. God said “I will show you” where you’re going. He started out on his journey without even knowing his destination ahead of time! Let that sink in for a moment. Consider how very different that is than the kind of planning you and I put into a vacation. But this trip was far more permanent and important than any other vacation or trip Abram might take. This was his calling. He was on assignment from God.
Remember, “ faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. Hebrews chapter 11 is also known as the Faith Chapter in the Bible. Many heroes of the faith are listed here and are commended for their faithful actions, or their obedience. Try this; in the following examples from Hebrews 11, replace the word faith with the word obedience, as you read them.
By faith, Noah (when warned about things not yet seen)…built an ark.
By faith, Abram…went, even though he did not know where he was going.
By faith Moses parents hid him for three months.
By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land.
By faith the prostitute Rahab…welcomed the spies.
Now go back and read each one and stop to consider what might have happened if they had NOT obeyed in faith but held back in fear. There would have been huge consequences to their lack of action. Those of us in the future (like right now!) would be living a different life. It is a fact that when people of God obey His call, the chain of events that occurs because of it, changes lives. Moving forward, the ripple effect that takes place, can literally change the course of history! Translation: your obedience can have a lasting effect on the history of your own family and possibly even further than that. Future generations (like you and I) are changed and blessed because of events in the faith life of believers, centuries ago!
What’s important to note is that those heroes not only heard the call, but they followed through. They didn’t have it all spelled out for them ahead of time. There was no map for Abram, no blueprints for Noah, no promise of safety for Moses’ parents, and no bridge for the Israelites that crossed the Red Sea. I like my plans all tied up neatly with a bow, sealed and guaranteed for me ahead of time. I use the map app on my phone for directions, I choose hotels with free cancellation, and I prefer to know alternative routes in case of traffic.
But that’s not faith. That’s having a plan.
Having a plan is smart when you travel, in fact it’s smart for a great many areas of life. But when it comes to our faith life, things change a little. When we feel that God is placing something in front of us with intention (sometimes referred to as being called) we need step out “in faith”. We may need to move forward with our direction from God before all the details are mapped out and secure. We shouldn’t always wait until all the unknowns are known. We can have peace knowing that God’s plan is always for our best. That if He has placed something in or on our heart, He will make a way. He did that for the heroes of the faith, and there is no reason to think that He won’t do the same for us! When we step forward in faith, what happens is that we see blessings on the other side of our fear. Blessings that God has been waiting to show us! Remember that God told Abram “Go to a place that I WILL show you” and Abram went. What happened in Abram’s life after that time of faithful obedience was that he THEN became the father of many nations. And now, thousands of years later, you and I can be encouraged as we read the story of how God blessed him AFTER he obeyed.
I want you to grasp the truth that Abram didn’t leave AFTER God laid out the entire plan and route for him. He didn’t obey AFTER God showed him all he would receive as a result of his obedience. He WENT because God asked it of him. He went when he simply believed that God knew what was best for him. And THEN God blessed him!
Have you felt like there might be something that God is tugging on your heart to do? Have you struggled with knowing what that feels like? Or if it’s all in your head? Here’s some things that I have learned. That leading from God can feel like something that you are excited about or interested in (like a ministry to get involved in?). Sometimes it feels like a purpose that tingles just below the surface your skin (like something you are passionate about that could help people). Usually, it requires a risk or change (is it a new job or a location change?). Sometimes it doesn’t even make sense (with regard to what others expect of you, or even financially). Often it is something you just can’t stop thinking about!
Pray about those “feelings”. Pray about your fears. Tell God about it, and then listen. There’s no need to rush. As you pray and seek God, the Spirit will keep bringing that thing to your mind. As you pray, listen to how often it comes up in your conversations. Consider how you just can’t get away from it. As you pray and seek Him in this, He will show you clearly if you listen intently. Proverbs 3:5-6 in the NLT says it beautifully. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
It may feel “safer” to stay where you are, to avoid risk or change. You may feel “safer” when you choose not to get involved in that new thing. But when God is in it, He directs us, and He blesses our obedience. Romans 8:14 tells us; “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” I want to be led by the Spirit of God! I want to walk in obedience as His child! Psalm 128:1 also tells us this: “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.” You and I are BLESSED when we walk in obedience! Blessed when we follow what He asks. Even when we can’t see the entire route. Even when we don’t understand the whole picture.
We don’t’ have to. Abram didn’t.
God does not want His plan for us to be a mystery. He desires to bless us through the purposes He has planned. And He wants to use you to make a difference! Having a different future starts with obedience through faith now!
Step forward in faith!
Father, there is nothing that I desire more than your blessing over me. I confess that in my humanity, I often try to figure everything out before I step out in faith. I trust you when you say that you have my best interest on your heart. I trust that you will lead and direct my steps. And Lord, in this moment , I know what you have put in my heart. My desire is to be careful not to get ahead of you as you lead, but I know I can’t stay put any longer either. I am asking you now to show me which path to take. And I am trusting that as I follow your lead, that you will shine your light brightly on my path!