It is getting dark out there. The weather app says rain is due in about an hour. I rode the bike in to the office despite the forecast. Last year, I invested in quality rain gear. This year, bring on the rain. I’m prepared. I’ve learnt how that through life experience.
This is something I have in common with Abraham.
The story of Abraham gives me pause. We know him as a man of faith. In chapters 12-17 of Genesis, he moves from being a new believer in God to being the patriarch of a nation with which God establishes His covenant. Depending what translation of the Bible you use to read the story, it is told in about 3,000 words. That’s maybe 15-20 minutes of reading.
The story itself covers at least 23 years. Let’s put that into our context. For every minute we invest in reading about Abraham’s life, he has lived one year. Obviously, it isn’t that linear. Abraham’s story is more like a highlight reel than a diary. But it is easy for us to forget how this man, known as a hero of faith, plodded on day after day not seeing the realization of God’s promises to him.
What were you doing 23 years ago? That would be 1999. We were living in Costa Rica learning Spanish. Did you expect to be where you are today?
Where will you be 23 years from now? That will be the year 2046. I doubt I will be riding my motorcycle.
This is the season of preparation for 2046. Knowing God’s joy and peace in those years will depend greatly on how we prepare for them now. Our physical health, mental health, and especially our spiritual health will be conditioned upon the choices we make today. Abraham had to learn through the grind of daily life that God was trustworthy even though for much of those 23 years he never saw the reality of God’s promises. Every morning he woke up wondering, “Will today be the day?”
It would be nice if nurturing strength of faith and trust in God was as easy as buying rain gear for a motorcycle. Do some comparison shopping and then hit the “Buy Now” button at your favourite faith-gear store. We all know, however, that faith is only learnt through the process of life’s ups and down. The downs teach us a lot more about trusting God than the ups. Even Abraham succumbed to the temptation of trying to help God along.
I do not fear riding in the rain today. My gear has prepared me.
In all honesty, I can’t say I’m as eager to live by faith. Sometimes I doubt God’s goodness. Sometimes I worry. Hmmm. It would be more accurate to say I frequently doubt God’s goodness. I frequently worry. Thank God He is both merciful and gracious.
Of this I have no doubt - in theological theory . The events of life in every detail are established and defined by the purposes of God. Like Abraham, we all struggle against the temptation to help God along. There is a fine line between patience and passive. I’m often confused where that line is.
Our faith-gear for life is strengthened through the process of our learning of who God is. That includes not only the technical, cerebral side of theology but the experiential, life-lived-together side of theology. While the New Testament presents in depth explanations for ideas like divine sovereignty, it is the life of people like Abraham that help us understand - and translate into our own lives - the significance of these truths.
I can’t stand back and give Abraham the tsk-tsk of disapproval. I’m just like him. We all are. But, Abraham grew in his faith.
Fast forward to chapter 22 of Genesis. Abraham is asked to do something unthinkable: offer his son as a sacrifice. God intervenes and keeps that from happening. Abraham showed every intention of following through because he believed that God was even able to raise his son from the dead. Abraham’s faith had matured.
So, there is hope for us. Together, we will continue to explore and learn the marvels of God’s love and grace, to sharpen our faith perspective of life. We will struggle. We will soar. And we will grow.
The rains of life’s challenges will fall and we will get wet. But our faith-gear will remind us that, above all, our God is faithful. Even when (especially when?) our own faith is in crisis.
Go ride in the rain!