Scripture (Hebrews 11:1-3, 13-19 and then some . . .)
Today's reflection is based on a Scripture reading selected by our author: Katie Hein.
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible. All these died in faith. They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son of whom it was said, “Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.” He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol.
In Hebrews 11, Paul draws attention to heroes of faith, particularly how their faith was alive and active. Why is that message important during lent? Lent is a particularly powerful time. For me, it draws focus back to the very roots of my faith: God’s fulfilled promise in Christ’s loving sacrifice. It’s an introspective time to meditate and follow Jesus to the cross. It’s, in a way, a very quiet time. In reflecting on Abraham, though, I am compelled to “fan into flame” (2 Tim. 1:6) that faith that has been waiting to be freed. I’m feeling called to draw that quiet faith out and let it shout!
Abraham’s faith was in a God who promised him a home. He moved his whole life at the Lord’s direction, knowing that God’s promise is always bigger than our perspective. I’ve always thought I had this same confidence, but what does it actually look like in my life? I love my Lord, and I seek to thank him with my life. But how does my faith show up? I wait to speak up for Truth because I feel like I don’t know enough or I’m not strong enough. I hold back because I fear judgment from others. I fear being vulnerable. How can I serve God when I am only one—one small, fallen person? The real question is, how can I not?
Faith in the Lord was Abraham’s strength. It was all the knowledge he needed to obey God. It is liberating to live by faith with an eternal picture in mind! It means being unhindered by the disappointments, brokenness, and discomfort that our work on this earth will involve. Yes, it will come. Your work is God’s work, and because of that it will bring difficulty. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). It is in the Lord’s overcoming that your faith is anchored. Jesus is the fulfillment of our Father’s great love, plan, and promise. His perfect life, obedient death, and purifying resurrection is our overcoming. Faith is your tether to the freedom you have through Jesus. You are now free to live, to work, to speak, to sing, to teach, to worship, to pray, to care, and yes to struggle, fall, and fail and then to rise again at peace and without fear. You will feel the fight as you serve, and it will hurt, but it will not overcome you. With every confidence and with your eyes fixed on Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:2), serve him with abandon.
- What fears prevent you from talking openly about your faith?
- Have you ever found it difficult to answer someone who calls your faith “blind obedience”?
- How could you answer them in light of Hebrews 11?
- How will you be intentional about living by faith?
These Lenten reflections are written by friends of 12plus1, Inc. Discovery House a service-based gap year experience for participants ages 18-20 will begin August 2018. Please share this information with an individuals who may want to participate or support this new ministry.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the peace that comes from your promise. Thank you for the strength I have from your overcoming. Thank you for the home I have to look forward to. Show me how you want me to serve you. Lead me to the words and choices that will reflect my faith in you, and keep me strong in the face of the ridicule, uncertainty, and difficulty that I face. Your will be done, Lord. In your name, amen.
Katie Hein serves as the Executive Assistant to the Superintendent of St. Marcus Lutheran School. St. Marcus will be a service site for Discovery House.