A sermon from Hebrews 11:8-16, Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-7.
Speaking of believing the impossible, the Buffalo Bills are in the AFC championship game facing the Kansas City Chiefs.
As much as I admire Josh Allen, their young, strong quarterback, why do I feel like I have lived this story before?
How many Super Bowls did we long suffering Bills fans have to live through? How many times did they lose? But hope springs eternal! Let’s go Buffalo!
I want to believe, Lord, help my unbelief.
That struggle of faith that I am experiencing with the Buffalo Bills, is the exactly the struggle Abraham and Sarah faced, times 100!
They wondered, how do I believe a God who I know has called me to leave home and set out on a journey whose end is undetermined? If I knew the end result from the beginning, I could suffer all the mishaps in between! I could get through the trials and tribulations!
But how do I believe in a plan that has us going thousands of miles in search of the Promised Land you have told me of!
How do I believe in the story of a huge family, when my spouse getting pregnant late in life is impossible, well beyond when a woman can conceive?
You promised our ancestors would be more than the stars and the sand, but…
Why, oh God, do you ask me to believe the impossible?
Faith ain’t easy!
If it was easy everyone would have faith when facing long and treacherous journeys, whether they be journeys over the hills and mountains, over the seas, or over the barriers of all kinds that life throws at us. The barriers of race and gender, the barriers of wealth and education, the barriers of experience and age, the barriers of health, even the barriers of our own making, our own fears.
It is never easy to believe!
Because faith is a journey asking us to following God to the final destination and its wonders, but without the moment-by-moment obvious assurances that the journey is safe and the destination is guaranteed!
Unless you have faith. Unless somehow, like Abraham, you believe!
The author of Hebrews tells us that Abraham did, and it was counted for him as righteousness. His faith, his trust in God was understood by God as proof, and all the proof needed, that Abraham was his.
It is hard for us to wrap our heads and hearts around that.
That God loves us so much that what God wants more than anything is for us children to acknowledging him, to thank him as the eternal Father, as the creator, as the one who loves us eternally; the one who waits at the gate for the wayward child to come home!
This journey of Abraham and Sarah’, just like any of ours, was only possible through faith.
And, while dangerous, it was the kind of journey that would lead Abraham and Sarah into all kinds of wonderful, crazy, joyous, scary and even costly adventures.
How about you? What kind of adventures has your faith taken you on?
What adventures could you be having if only you could believe? Maybe as an adult you have traveled because of your faith to be part of a mission trip! Or have gone to college or graduate school to prepare for a job or profession?
Perhaps you traveled far from home to get married, to work at a special place, or to serve in the military, or to just to start again after a disastrous beginning.
Perhaps your mom and dad loaded you into the family station wagon or strapped you into the family minivan and took you against your will to places mundane and wonderful.
You had no choice and it required no faith, or so you thought.
Off to great Aunt Hattie’s house, she and Great Uncle Ed the Primitive Baptists in the family, where we as kids could only sit on the porch and look at each pitifully because it was the Sabbath, and we couldn’t play. An awful journey, enforced by our parents for no other reason we could see than some form of punishment.
Or that other terrible journey on Thanksgiving Day if you can believe it, eating Thanksgiving dinner at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant, all because our parents wanted us to suffer by going to Disney World in Florida shortly after it opened on October 1, 1971.
We didn’t see at the time how our faith was leading us on a journey.
Perhaps, because our faith wasn’t in the journey, and wasn’t even in the destination.
It was in them, my parents, Jack and Dorothy, that they no matter the journey, no matter what the final destination looked like, loved us and wanted the very best for us.
Just as Abraham and Sarah put their faith in Yahweh, the one who would be the God of Israel, and headed out on a journey from the safety of Ur of the Chaldees, to what they were told would be their Promised Land, where their descendants would number in numbers unimaginable.
Do you understand that God is calling you on a faith journey too, one that will require you to set aside the normal questions and concerns, so you can see the Promised Land God has prepared for you!
It won’t be easy and it may be costly. Be aware. Discipleship is costly!
But it is also exactly what God has been preparing you for.
Get up and go. Be like Abraham and Sarah and believe. Amen.