This weekend’s message was on Hebrews 11. I cannot get enough of that chapter.
At the end of Hebrews 11, the author picks up his pace and delivers examples of faith in rapid succession. He puts these role models in two groups: the first group “conquered kingdoms, . . . quenched the power of fire, . . . were made strong.” But those in the second group “suffered mocking and flogging, . . . were stoned, were sawn in two, were killed with the sword.” What these two groups had in common was that they believed the word of God and risked everything upon it.
The first group received great deliverance and victory; the second group died with nothing on earth that validated their faith. What group would you want to be in? Of course, we want to be in the first group. But the life of faith requires a confidence in a God you cannot see and in promises that you cannot always feel. Oftentimes you, like those in the second group, stand alone. If you require earthly validation for your faith, you will not make it.
Can you risk it all on what is invisible? Like Abraham, will you obey what God commands? Will you obey what God says about morality even if it makes no sense to you?
Can you, like Jacob and Joseph, have unwavering hope in the midst of darkness? In the darkest hour of your soul, will you hope because the dawn is coming? When your cancer is not in remission, when your spouse is not coming back, when your prime age for getting married is passing you by—will you rejoice that God can turn tragedy into triumph? Your ability to be joyful in all things is the measure of your faith.
Like the Israelites at the Red Sea, do you trust that God will provide for you in impossible situations? I feel this as a parent. I look at the world and I panic, “God, how can I raise my children in this sort of world?” But maybe how scared and panicky we get that God won’t provide for us reveals how little we actually believe Him.
Like Moses, will you leverage your earthly position because you believe in eternity? God may be telling you to leave your lucrative career to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth. He might be telling you to take Him seriously in your giving. He might be pushing you to be more bold in your witness for Him. Will you listen?
Faith is a bold dare on the promises of an unseen God. I am convinced that many in our churches do not believe in the invisible. They are not willing to put it all on the line for eternity. They give a little money, a little time, and never take a bold dare on God. Faith gives till it hurts, because faith knows that in light of eternity, our earthly sacrifices are not true sacrifices at all.