It’s almost impossible to talk seriously about religion without the name of Abraham coming into the discussion. Three of the world’s largest religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, trace their faith back to Abraham, the patriarch. Why is this ancient father such a powerhouse? It’s not because the guy was perfect. That’s seen in many ways, and none the least is that he lied about his wife, not only once, but twice, to save his skin.
Authentic faith was the root of this man’s success with God, which caused him to get up and trust God profoundly. His story picks up in Genesis chapter 12, where God first comes onto the scene of Abraham’s life, and the patriarch launches out in a tiny step of faith after the other. What would it look like if we were to dissect his faith for a moment? In short, it was risky.
- Abraham had a faith beyond the Unknown. God called him out of the land where he had grown up, the place and culture that he knew, to follow him someplace where he had never been before. There needed to be a road map or laid out plan of action. But there was not one. God sometimes calls us into the unknown as well. We want details, and often, he gives us none.
- Abraham had a faith undaunted by the Unbelievable. Part of Abraham’s life story was that he was old. His wife was old. He had no children at this late stage, and the prospect of bearing any was unbelievable, considering Sarah’s advanced age. Yet God had the audacity to tell Abraham that if he stepped out in faith and trusted him, his descendants would be more than the stars in the night sky. Sometimes, God makes those unbelievable kinds of promises to us as well. They’re just too big to fathom coming to fruition.
- Abraham had faith despite the Unreasonable. Faith got tricky after his son, Isaac, was a young man, and God then told Abraham to offer him up as a sacrifice. That doesn’t make sense. It’s not reasonable. But Abraham reasoned that in some way, beyond his understanding, God was able and willing to keep his word. He trusted that God would raise Isaac from the dead or come through in another miraculous fashion. The text tells us that he stepped out in obedient faith, trusting that God would somehow work things out, and just before Abraham went through the obedient act of sacrifice, the LORD stepped in at the final second to stop the action. Sometimes, God calls us to trust him, even when it just doesn’t make sense. It’s unreasonable.
So, what were the results of his risk? In all these occasions, Abraham trusted God, and God came through. It was not always according to Abraham’s schedule, but God kept His word. At the end of the day, God fully kept his promises. Abraham was blessed personally with his son. Through Isaac came Jacob and the 12 tribes of Israel, and thus Abraham was blessed nationally. And finally, the international blessing came through the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who is our ultimate hope. Yes, the world is blessed through Jesus because Abraham stepped out to trust God.
Abraham blew it occasionally, but the New Testament does not remember him that way. Instead, James refers to Abraham as a friend of God. That is what God is looking for, and that is what God is looking for in you. True faith is risky. It will call you to step out of your comfort zone. It may be something significant like resigning from a high paying job and moving to the mission field, or something as simple as sharing your faith story with a co-worker or stepping up to tithe to your local church family.
Whatever it is, consider the risks of stepping out of the boat and what is at risk if you do not. Yes, faith is risky, but sometimes, doing nothing is actually more of a threat.
On the other hand, no one knows what God has in store for you when you step out. I’ve often been encouraged by the life of missionary Hudson Taylor, who once stated that: “God is not looking for men of great faith; he is looking for common men to trust His great faithfulness.”
So, what are you waiting for today?