Daily Office Readings – NT ( Hebrews 11:1-12 )
As I read through the New Testament reading for today, the same two words kept jumping out at me: “by faith,” “by faith,” “by faith,” kind of like the steady beating of a drum. (Or a hammer on my thick skull, perhaps…)
The other thing that kept coming up was that everything that the people in this chapter believed, or acted upon, was something that was “invisible,” or “as yet unseen,” or that “he set out, not knowing where he was going.”
There was nothing tangible to hold on to, just the word of an invisible man in the sky who told them to build things, to go places, or that a great nation would spring up from their aging bodies.
Nothing at all that would seem to indicate that the words from heaven were even remotely real.
And still these people believed.
I found these stories of people acting “by faith” to be simultaneously encouraging and damning, because, I too have had one of those moments where I feel that God has spoken to me and told me a Truth that will come to pass in my life.
But also, these past few weeks I’ve woken up every morning, looked at the situation of my life and realized that absolutely nothing about my current situation has changed. It feels, in many ways, on some days, like the lackluster life of Joe Banks, in Joe Vs. the Volcano.
I have to wonder how often someone like Noah woke up on a sunny, cloudless day, wondering why on earth he might be building a giant boat when there was no rain in sight. Did he ever question God’s commandment to build an ark? If and when those around him ridiculed him, and when everything looked like sunny skies for weeks on end, did he question his own sanity?
Or what about Abraham (“this one as good as dead”), when he was told that he and his old wife would conceive and have a son. Did he wake up on some mornings, look at his gray-haired wife and wonder if he was delusional for believing that these two old bodies could still produce a child?
We just don’t know if they did. But I am certain that they had their doubts, and their own struggles to believe these words from heaven, because that is only human. It is human to have moments, hours, days, even weeks, where we fall into the temptation of looking at the visible, tangible, in-our-face facts, while ignoring that which we have received as Truth. It is human to want to give up, to look at the current situation around us and just say, “Maybe God didn’t say that to me after all…” And this is why this passage is damning, because I sit and contemplate those very words, and contemplate whether I too am delusional.
I can see that Noah, and Abraham and Sarah most probably had days like what I am experiencing, but still they pressed on – and in the end what they had been told came to pass. And that is why this passage is also encouraging: if I continue on, I too will see the results of acting in faith, despite the outward visible signs of what I’m currently experiencing.
Of course, while today’s reading is encouraging, the current conversation still goes something along these lines:
Me: “Hey, Guy in the Sky, not much happening here. In fact, almost everything seems to be the exact opposite of what you’ve said. What gives?”
God: “Do you remember what I told you?”
Mike is a jack of all trades, master of none. He’s a data analyst, programmer, and loves to cook. If he doesn’t have his face buried in a book or is staring blankly at a computer screen, you can find him on a motorcycle, enjoying the ride.
Mike holds a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary.