Good morning! Snow, really?
Today’s scripture: Hebrews 11:1-3, 13-19
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
I love this quote from one of my fav authors Anne Lamott in her book Plan B:Further Thoughts on Faith, “I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me–that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”
This quote begs the question, what is faith? For Lamott perhaps faith is the opposite of certainty and for the writer of Hebrews it seems to be twofold. Faith is “the assurance for things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” First of all faith is where we hang all of our hopes. It provides a guarantee (almost to certainty). Because of faith, our dreaming has substance. No flimsy dreaming for us. Faith provides a grounding in other words, that place we function out of. But the second part of faith is that launching forward into the future. Faith gives us courage to move forward (that launching into the the mess, the emptiness, etc and seeing light in front of us). Faith moves us forward.
I like this interplay. In fact, the author is so convinced he or she (we are not sure who the author is) uses a well known story to illustrate their point. Abraham and Sarah appear on the scene as the illustration of what God can do in faith or rather how they respond to God in faith. Instead of full definitions we get to remember these people that were faithful for our definition. Abraham and Sarah held fast to the promise from God of a child. This is crazy! In their old age? But these wanderers held to the knowledge that God would provide so they held fast and they knew this would launch them into the future as well. They held fast to the promise of land as well. This made them foreigners and yet they moved forward. Not only did they function from this grounding, they knew these promises were a call from God. They moved forward in that call as a response to God.
We need both in order to play out faith. We need those who “hold fast” and those willing to move forward. Those who set up camp and those who are ready to continue to travel. We need the Anne Lamotts of the world to remind us that God is calling us out of certainty into light in the midst of it all. And we need the Abrahams who are sure of God’s call ready to continue to move. Maybe this will help us to be faithful. Where are you on the spectrum this morning? What is faith for you? What do you resonate with?
Prayer: Gracious and loving God, we are not certain of some things and pretty sure of others but we are ready to move forward in your call. We ask that you offer us grounding to function out of and a discerning heart to think about what it means to be faithful.