What Abraham Can Teach Us about Faith & Patience
Lately, I’ve been mulling over the ins and outs of faith. Not the label we give ourselves to describe our belief systems. Rather the substance of the unseen that procures promises from God.
Faith is defined by the author of Hebrews as “...the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]” (Heb. 11:1 AMP).
So in this we see that faith is a substance or the title deed to the things we both hope for and are convinced of. And yet so many times we are in this flux of longing and waiting for the things that we both have ownership to and are completely persuaded of.
Is there a disconnect? Or is this merely part of the path that faith takes as we walk it out?
You see, I am in a period of waiting; I have been waiting for children for over ten years. That is a LONG time, and it is not my faith that is broken. (I know what God's promised by grace, so I know it is within God’s will for it to happen). So there is another element to it—That element is patience. There is something in the idea of both faith and patience working together bring about what we hope for.
The classic example of this, is the story of Abraham. He believed God for an heir and his faith spanned decades until the promised came. This is what Hebrew casually says about it, “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised” (Heb 6:15). Talk about an understatement!
I had an opportunity to present ideas on cultivating the discipline of Bible study recently at a weekend retreat. I only had fifteen minutes to present so I worked really hard on being succinct which meant cutting five points down to the one main thing with ways to immediately apply. I love to teach, almost as much as I love to write, but this exercise on whittling down my sermon to fit within the time constraints was challenging, but proved effective.
The next day, the retreat organizer thanked me for presenting and commented that what I shared was simple and straightforward, what everyone needed to hear. My ego would have loved to hear that I had wowed them or that it was full of wisdom but in reality this is one of the best compliments a Bible teacher could receive. A simple and straightforward message from the Word of God makes it accessible and understandable.
This past week I, like 90,000 other leaders, spent Thursday and Friday participating in the Global Leadership Summit. The Summit is a two-day event that is telecast live from Willow Creek’s campus near Chicago. They bring in amazing speakers, both within the body of Christ and also leadership experts and social scientists. It was a great event.
Because of the flux of information during these two days, I really tried to take minimum notes and just be present to listen. Fortunately, I have this luxury as a coworker is an amazing note taker, so I knew I’d have the margin to go back and access his notes. (You can get them too; click here!) Thanks @BenInIowa!
After it was over, I tried to boil everything down to bite-sized takeaways to immediately apply— So here they are…
#1—The highest calling of leadership
“The highest calling of leadership is to unlock the untapped, unlimited potential of others” Carly Fiorina (@CarlyFiorina).
God places incredible value on His Word, In fact, the greatest gift God gave us outside of Jesus was the scriptures. He places incredible value on the Word that was written, preserved and passed down to us. It says in the Psalms, “You have exalted above all else Your name and Your word and You have magnified Your word above all Your name!” (Psalm 138:2b AMP). We know God values His word because He magnifies it above the His name, and if it’s this important to Him; it needs to be this important to us.
But what happens when we let our insecurities about the Bible keep us from delving into it? Here’s five ways in which I’ve found helpful to make the Word of God an integral part of my life.
None of These Will Surprise You!
I have never fancied myself as a gardener, in fact I’ve never had the time or interest in it until recently. The reason I started was for two things. First, I love tomatoes—not the flavorless kind you buy at the store, rather I’m crazy about the sweet delicious fruit that ripens in the sun until it obtains perfect flavor (this could be my favorite food!). The other reason is that I love fresh salsa—not the kind that labeled mild or medium. The kind that comes with a warning that only the bravest could possible enjoy it. (The hotter the better!) This is really the reasoning behind my foray into gardening—availability for the things I love.
This spring, my husband tilled up a new larger spot in full sun and we branched out to plant a variety of vegetables. Everything from sugar snap peas, to eggplant, to sweet corn (what can I say, I’m an Iowa girl, sweet corn is a must!) And of course, half of our garden is dedicated to my delectable tomatoes, hot peppers, onions and cilantro—everything I need for my two favorite summer items.
Sometimes, in deep places there is a spot where profound disappointment can live. In this place, if given the right circumstances it can grow and do damaging things to not only our lives, but our souls as well. If we learn the skills to address disappointment and gain godly perspective surrounding our feelings, then we allow room for God’s healing work to begin in our hearts.
I believe that Psalm 77 can give us these skills. Because this Psalm is also a story of disappointment. It is an intimate conversation between Asaph and God. Asaph was a contemporary of David and while we do not know much about him, we do know that he was assigned by King David as a worship leader in the tabernacle and he was a skilled singer and poets and he’s also mentioned as prophet (1 Chron. 6:31–32; 2 Chron.s 29:30).
Through his writing, we have a record of an intimate conversation between Him and God. While we don’t know the particular circumstances he was facing, we get the expression of what he was thinking.
As you read this Psalm, notices the words, notice the emotion, notice the questions…