Abraham, The Father of Faith?

I don’t know if this is wise or not, but…

As I write, the new material for my book tends to become the next lesson I preach. Or vice versa.

At any rate, to keep up interest, I thought I’d share a snippet written ultimately I hope for publication…

Though I walk through the valley of darkness

I am not afraid

Cause I know I’m not alone

And if the wind blows east, would you follow me

And if the wind blows north, would ya stay your course

And if the wind blows west, would ya second guess

And if it blows to the south, would you count me out

And if the sun don’t shine, would you still be mine

And if the sky turns grey, would you walk away

Would you say I do, if I say I’ll be

And walk this road through life with me

You know I love youuuuuu

On this lonely road of faith

On this lonely road of faith

(Kid Rock)

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God. It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed[a] that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them… It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. (Hebrews 11:8-12, 17-19 NLT)

Abraham.

The father of faith.

But what exactly is faith?

In my blog Desperately Wanting to Believe Again, some might have been tempted to think I wanted to learn how to believe in God again. That would be the wrong temptation to embrace. When I use the word believe I don’t mean acknowledge God’s existence. To the contrary, I believed then and believe now fervently.

What I have wrestled with is faith.

The belief and trust that God has my best interests at heart. That God really does care. That God loves me.

Like many of you, I know the scriptural definition of faith: Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1, NLT)

I believe that verse. And yet, it is problematic for me.

The first part I am extremely cool with. I have great confidence that God has given me salvation. I eagerly await the day when Jesus comes back to take us home. I didn’t say if, I said when.

But the second part of the verse in question? Faith gives us assurance about things we cannot see…

I said it was problematic. That’s really understating the case.

I have found it hugely hard to believe God really wants the best for me. I have struggled significantly with the idea God was protecting me or taking care of my family.

Even now, when I see His providence, I still wonder about the past. I still question where we are going.

Whether I wanted it or not, I long ago left my home for a far country. I once wrote on my blog that I mourned the loss of me. If we had experienced only a double murder, that would be massively bad enough. But the loss of wife and son, mother and brother, brought on more changes than we could have ever imagined.

Yes, I have mourned the loss of me.

The connections, the location, the friends, the life once had… It all went away. And faster than you might believe.

I am also appreciative of the faith of Abraham.

God said go and he did.

And for whatever reason, we don’t quite get the questions he might have had. The worries. The fears. And even the loss that came with leaving one life and embarking on another.

Abraham, the Father of faith is presented as a man who unquestioningly trusted God.

It’s a beautiful picture even if it is not quite true.

Before you level a charge of heresy or sacrilege, try to remember some stories from his life of faith. It wasn’t an all cheerful Forest Gump life is a box of chocolates existence.

There were struggles. There were hard times. There was disbelief. There was uncertainty. Remember Sarai? Was she wife or sister? And what about the promise of having a son? Sarai laughed. They played pregnancy games. Poor Ishmael was nothing more than a faithless attempt to make God’s word true.

And then there was the whole deal of sacrificing Isaac. Do you really think Abraham made the trip up the mountain with a light heart unburdened by questions, worries, fears, and doubts?

But if none of this is enough to help you see Abraham as man for whom faith wasn’t always easy, then let me remind you of Sodom and Gomorra. Remember when God was going to destroy those two wicked cities? And Abraham was cheering God on? Right? Except, there was no cheering. Instead there were questions, doubts, fears and disbelief.

Remember what Abraham asked the Lord? What if there fifty righteous people living there in the city? Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?

I don’t know about you, but I hear the questions of Abraham’s heart. I see a man of faith who was also a man unafraid to say to the God of the universe, hey, wait a minute. I am not sure about all of this. I see how things aren’t working the way I imagined. Sometimes it doesn’t look like you have my best interests at heart. And yet, I believe even as I doubt.

In a book about zombies and survivors at the end of life as we know it, the author gives vibrancy to an ex-catholic priest turned warrior with these words that resonate still: Faith isn’t the absence of doubt, it’s the decision to believe in something contrary to what you observe. (The Remaining: Refugees, D.J. Molles)

And like the man once told Jesus, I believe; help me with my unbelief.