We live in a “seeing is believing” world. Growing up, if I made a claim about something, my brothers would pounce like ninjas, “prove it!” Or taunt with their more sarcastic, “just because you said so, doesn’t make it so.” Like all siblings, we had a very special love language. My mother would often say with certainty that some day we would actually enjoy being with one another. She kept the faith despite the fact that there was absolutely no evidence that could possibly happen in this universe.
Hebrews chapter 11 is sometimes called the hall of faith, because it is full of the stories of men and women who believed the promises of God before they could be seen. In fact, every single one of them died without ever seeing the promise of the Savior fulfilled. Their lives spanned generations, but they shared a compelling faith. Despite the circumstances of life, they believed God. I am drawn to this chapter because I want that kind of faith too.
I used to think of faith as a descriptor of how I believed. “So and so is of the (fill in the blank) faith.” Or, “the bigger your faith, the more God can use you,” way of thinking. Even the disciples may have thought this way when they asked Jesus to give them bigger faith. But Christ addresses this error in Luke 17:6 when He said “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
What He was saying is that it is not HOW you believe, but WHO you believe. We demonstrate faith in God when we live according to His will, even when we don’t see Him at work in our lives. There have been situations in my life that I had to make the deliberate decision to believe God even when it looked like He was very far from me. But the Hall of Faith-ers take it even a step further. They believed with a sense of certainty - like it had already happened.
- Abel had an attitude of faith
- Noah built a boat on dry desert land
- Abraham demonstrated sacrificial living
- Sarah rocked her new born baby at the youthful age of 90
- Isaac and Jacob believed in a better future for their children
- Joseph lived beyond his circumstances
- Moses exchanged a palace for a hike in the wilderness
- Rahab exchanged a harlot’s life for obedience
If you know much of the back-stories on these men and women then you know that they also had weaknesses and made some colossal mistakes. But in spite of their flaws and bad decisions, they had a faith that honored God. So as I attempted to nail down the lesson here, I began to notice a subtle difference between the qualities of their faith and mine. It’s the who versus the how. I think I’ve always viewed God’s word as a “how to” book, but in reality it’s more like a “who done it.” And a must read, if I may say so myself.