By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out
to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he
went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he
sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the
same promise; for he was looking forward to the city with
foundations, whose architect and maker is God. By faith
he received power to generate, even though he was past
the normal age--and Sarah herself was sterile--for he
thought that the one who had made the promise was
trustworthy. So it was that there came forth from one man,
himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the
stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the
seashore. All these died in faith. They did not receive
what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar
and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on
earth, for those who speak thus show that they are seeking
a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land from which
they had come, they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one.
Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he
has prepared a city for them. By faith Abraham, when put to
the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the
promises was ready to offer his only son, of whom it was said,
"Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name." He reasoned
that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received
Isaac back as a symbol.
As the people of Christ, a community of hope and faith, we are called to trust in the love of God when He calls us out of our comfort zone and asks of us more than we think we can accomplish. Abraham was told by God to leave his homeland, to make a dangerous journey, so that he could take possession of a foreign and hostile land that he had never even seen before. Even after his arrival in the promised land, his life was not easy. Abraham had been promised descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, not a likely outcome considering that he was at the time childless and he and his wife were too old to conceive. Still, he trusted and God rewarded his faith with a son. How shocking must it have been to Abraham, after all he had been through and the faith he had put in God for the life of his son, when Isaac's life was demanded as a sacrifice? Even in spite of this seeming contradiction, Abraham trusted that God would keep His promise and ultimately He did just that. How much more should we trust God when He asks the seemingly impossible from us, considering that He is unlikely to ask of us nearly as much as He did of Abraham? Most of us are called simply to bring Christ to those around us, not in hostile lands or empty wilderness but in our own backyards where the Good News is just as desperately needed. Will we respond with faith and acceptance of the love of God, or will we favor instead our own will and plan for our lives?
I'm not saying that it's easy, Lord knows it isn't and I'm the least of all when it comes to subjugating my own will to His. It is only through the grace of God that we are able to answer His call and do what is pleasing to Him and yet we are called to ask for that grace and seek that which is pleasing to Him. It is the great contradiction vocalized in the plea of the man in Mark 9:24, "I do believe, help my unbelief." We are called to ask for that which we cannot even fathom on our own much less obtain, to reach our short arms out to Him who comes down to meet us where we are. We are called to have faith in that which we cannot see and to seek that which we cannot fathom, and only through the grace of God can we finally obtain this great gift which brings eternal life.