We’re walking through the Hall of Faith together, in Hebrews 11. Links to the previous posts will be at the end of this one.
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, co-heirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
(To read about Abraham’s story, begin in Genesis chapter 12.)
There is a secret hidden in Abraham’s story. A secret that I hold onto almost as one who holds running water, unable to fully grasp it and hold fast.
It’s the secret that compelled a man to leave everything familiar — home, family, a way of life. Words on paper clean it up, make it seem less gut-wrenching, like saying goodbye isn’t painful at all. Like leaving something good isn’t all that hard. By faith he went. No big deal.
Except it is. A big deal. It is. Leaving things and people and comfort and familiar and good is heaving sobs hard. So let’s not look at the words on paper and wave them off like they have no meaning for us. Like they’re just part of someone else’s story. They aren’t. They are the words of my story, your story, and the story of the generations to come.
When I said yes to Jesus, I left a life of drugs. It wasn’t hard. I was relieved to be done, and so thankful for the rescue from that life.
But leaving the reason I did drugs in the first place, the desire to escape? That’s been a long, mournful process that sometimes felt like I was being ripped away from all I hold dear. Too dramatic? No. It is not. To leave a lifelong pattern of dealing with life, to live without the blanket you’ve carried since childhood? It is a hard fought battle of leaving, my friend.
Your story is different from mine, but it is the same truth for both of us. We all have to leave, and keep leaving.
Because we cannot follow Jesus without leaving.
Abraham’s secret first slipped in when I was reading Psalm 84 one day and verse 5 was on fire.
Blessed are those whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
God lit it up and then dropped in into my heart, using it to put a name to something I couldn’t name. My sense of never feeling at home, never feeling attached or settled. Anywhere. My whole life.
I think one of the best intangible gifts God has given me is the gift of pilgrimage. Feeling like a stranger wherever I go, never feeling settled here, is precious to me.
Hebrews 11:13-15 ~ These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth…But they now desire a better place—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Foreigners. Aliens. Temporary residents. This is part of our calling, the ‘come, follow Me’ that compelled us to leave something known for unknown. This is who we are. People with eternity in our hearts, and an awareness that we are simply passing through this place as citizens of a different homeland. People who carry a secret that strengthens us for all the leavings.
And when we live as those people, neither joy nor sorrow on this sojourn will shackle our feet to this earth.
These first four heroes have all directed our gaze forward, past them, past us.
ABEL – to the Gospel and the Church.
ENOCH – to the rapture of the Church and the urgency of the Gospel.
NOAH – to the way out of the coming destruction.
And now Abraham.
Pointing us home.