March 3, 2007

Faith is only as good as its object!

My husband likes to travel. If offered a trip even on the spur of the moment, he’d make a few quick phone calls to co-workers and immediately pack his bags.

Not me. If I were a dog, I’d be a German Shepherd laying on the front step or in front of the hearth, content with staying where I am and with the routines of my life (which is a bit of an oxymoron because my routine is constantly challenged by unexpected additions). I really don’t care for living out of a suitcase, at least not for an extended time.

Today’s reading is in Genesis 12. “Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.”

Abram had already traveled some distance. His father had taken him and his wife, and one grandson, Lot, from Ur of the Chaldeans to Haran in Canaan. The Bible says nothing before this about Abram’s religion except that the call from God first came in Ur (Acts 7), and history shows that the people of both Ur and Haran were pagan.

With this call, God promised Abram that He would make his name great, make of him a great nation and bless all the families of the earth because of him, but he had to move. Abram responded and did what God asked.

The emphasis in his story is on his faith. Hebrews 11 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

Faith is only as valid as its object. I might believe I can sing, but if my voice is not that of a singer, then my faith is misplaced, and no amount of believing will make me a singer. I might believe God will give me a fancy house with servants, but unless that is the will of God, my faith will not make it happen. Faith is about where it is placed, not about its own size, strength, intensity or determination.

Abram (who became Abraham) believed God, not because he like to travel, or his father wanted to move, or this looked like a good idea. He had no reason to think he would become father to a great nation, and even less when his wife turned out to be barren and childless until the age of ninety. He went because God told him to go, and he believed that God knows what is right, what should be done, and what is best for Abram and his wife.

Sarah seemed to have had no say in the matter. She may have complained, or been excited about the move. In any case, the New Testament talks of her as a woman who trusted God so much that she could do what her husband asked without any fear of the results. She knew that the secret of submission is not becoming a doormat (a popular misconception), but releasing the tyranny of always having to have her own way. (In their story, when she insisted on what she wanted, it led to disaster, not to say that wives can’t make decisions, but we need to be aware of our motives.) Sarah’s faith was just as much part of their move as her husband’s trust in God. Hebrews 11 commends her for her faith also.

As I think about this story and about my husband’s desire to travel, I’m reminded that faith means I can trust God to use travel as a means to blessing not only us, but others. He might even use even me, who would rather stay home, to be a blessing. If faith moved Abram and his wife to a new country, faith can also move me to go wherever God directs for a vacation. I’m just a little slower to pack my bags than my spouse.

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