Saturday of Week 3 in Ordinary Time
All these died in faith, before receiving any of the things that had been promised, but they saw them in the far distance…
“Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen. It was for faith that our ancestors were commended.” (Hebrews 11:1-2)
I thought I was all too familiar with the first reading of Hebrews 11 on the meaning of Faith, but today’s passage translation floored me. Imagine if you were only being commended for the act of obedience in following a command, and not for the measure of success or outcome of your action? Put another way, what if you had followed a set of incredulous instructions, failed horribly and embarrassed yourself – but you were still commended for your obedience and commitment? Would you still have followed?
Perhaps not many would have done so. I would at least, like to be guaranteed or be confident of some level of success, in order to take the plunge and follow God’s will. This is the battleground of my human will.
It floors me that Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, and the patriarchs of our faith, were all moving in such intimate tandem with God’s command and will. They would have struggled with numerous doubts, but God’s promises were as good as gold for them. Even better than gold, God’s promise of the beautiful spring of the Eternal City was enough for them, despite the very desert land they were traversing in. How could this dry and barren landscape be the Promised Land?
How could Sarah’s aged and long-barren womb bear the long-awaited son that God had promised Abraham? It was by an incredibly deep and robust faith in God that Sarah continued to believe in this promise, even up to her late years. It was by a sturdy and tested faith that Abraham brought Isaac up to mountain Moriah, ready to sacrifice the boy, despite his trembling sorrow about delivering the precious gift of Isaac to the altar table.
Might you be at such a point in your life today?
As I revisit the fork in my road ahead, I confront several paths in my life choices. The outcome of each direction is not apparently clear to me. The voices of discernment are fuzzy to me. I do not know what lies ahead in the path. And yet… I feel the Holy Spirit has shone a light through the fog of my thoughts…
“All these died in faith, before receiving any of the things that had been promised, but they saw them in the far distance and welcomed them, recognising that they were only strangers and nomads on earth. People who use such terms about themselves make it quite plain that they are in search of their real homeland.” (Hebrews 11:13)
What do I see in the far distance, beyond the pathways that I behold right now? The immediate steps are daunting no matter which direction I turn in. It is time to take my clouded eyes off the signposts, but to cast my eyes into a farther distance and time frame… the kind of time frame that Abraham, Sarah, and the Patriarchs held onto. And then to move in that direction.
God beckons me to recall my identity in Him, the strengths He gave me, and the values and virtues that He cherishes. What matters to Him is not what the world commends. In this sense, I would never be satisfied if I based my decisions on the dictates of earthly values, present-day praises and accolades.
The reasons for my decisions may even remain very opaque to the people close to me. I might be quizzed. I may even feel the need to quantify and justify my choices. I might not even be able to ‘produce’ any visible remarkable results within my lifespan. Can I withstand present mockery and have faith in God’s delight, even if it be these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23) at the end of time?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie L)
Prayer: Today, as I write, I desire to move closer into the core of my being – to dignify the dream that God had already planted in my soul – so that I make choices that glorify Him alone.
Thanksgiving: I thank you Lord for the great gift of choice, for the generosity of time you have given me to know myself and to know you better. I thank you for seeding your will in my life and allowing me the space to respond to you in love and faith.