What’s the point in having faith when (as far as I can tell) nothing is actually happening in the external world? If there is something, even something minor happening, how am I suppose to assume that has anything to do with me anyhow? I’ve felt so stuck and nullified, that I begin to wonder what difference does any of this make? But I know I am not alone. So maybe, but just maybe, I am learning something here?
I wrote to my brother. I needed advice. I always take my brothers’ advice …well, almost always. I wrote a small question, and waited for an answer that would say more than one little answer is suppose too. He wrote back with a small simple answer. I was satisfied. I’m not losing my faith, and I’m not losing my mind, so what else is this strange feeling? I feel so incredibly anxious to move onto the next step in my life that I wonder: What is the point in the now?
This morning a little phrased popped into my head, and I looked up the fuller context of what it was. It was Abraham, the father of faith and the father of many nations.
Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.”
– Romans 4:18-22
What’s the point in the now? Abraham, the father of faith, believed and it was accounted to him as righteousness. In the midst of Abraham waiting for God to begin the necessary steps to fulfill a big promise and a future for Abraham’s family, it’s recorded as Abraham believed. That’s not a very external list of what happened, but somehow, the saints who record this story know that this is the more important detail to be recognized than a do & don’t list or a list or events.
This is very odd concept. Because Abraham believed (a continuous belief), God accepted that, more than any doing, as an act of righteousness.
Righteousness is something which we usually say something like, it’s doing that which puts us in the “right” before God (meaning in good standing with God). Some people are convinced that their love in the hearts for their family and lack of murdering other people will count was righteousness, should they ever have to stand before God. But the Bible say some weird things about righteousness and being counted as a “good person”.
We are unfit to worship you;
each of our good deeds
is merely a filthy rag.
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.
At one time Jesus says something like, “No one is good, except God alone” which seems a little extreme… but then again I’ve had some sad times where I had a similar opinion. But there’s also place where the Bible seems to imply everything we do with our own strength is meager.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives sleep to his beloved.
Which again might bring about the question: What’s the point in the now? Which also takes me back to Abraham.
Abraham believed God and God’s promise(s) and it was accounted to Abraham as righteousness. Abraham obtained righteousness for not for his actions, reactions, or self-control, but instead it’s recorded as his faith in God and God’s words that put him in right-standings before God. Out of that also came actions, reactions, self-control, and so on, but these sort of things are secondary and aren’t the true symptoms that something or someone is good or bad. Instead it what comes out of the deeps of who we are.
Somehow, who we are, what we choose to believe, and how deeply we believe anything starts to define what’s really in us …good or bad. But that’s not what our society says. We have responsibilities, we have obligations, we have limits, we have temptations, and some people even believe that each of these things are a test, and depending how we do on that test we effect our levels of righteousness.
So how does Abraham fulfill God’s longest desire simply by faith?
Maybe righteousness isn’t so much about getting to place of right standings before God. Maybe it’s something more like willingness to commit to working along side of God. Maybe that’s the kind of people that make God say, “I call them my righteous child”.
My husband and I live in an odd situation where we feel God has called us out of many of the systems of this world. It makes people scoff. It makes people wait for our doom. Afterall, you can’t fight the machine. Things have been like this for generations, you can’t just change it now. These are tried and true methods of a “happy” life. We’re willing to test them anyways. We’re willing to leave the tried and trued, and to take that path of “no return”. We’re willing even to put up with some scoffing.
But it’s been a while, you know, and sometimes it seems like nothing’s happening. We’re anxious for the next step in life, but we’re waiting. Waiting brings questions. Questions are belligerent company on a path less traveled. But our hearts are 100% here in the unknown. We pray for miracle frequently, daily. We study, we learn, we research, we smile, and we even cry. But sometimes it seems nothing is changing yet.
Abraham was a man in an impossible situation. Throughout his life’s story he had many crazy hard situations. Maybe sometimes he made better decisions than other times. I’m not really in place to judge that, because at the end of it all Abraham is remembered as the father of faith. He’s remembered as something even greater than a saint. All this was not because of external factors, but something that came from the deepest part of Abraham.
One of the sayings of Jesus that I like to use as a compass is: “If you were children of Abraham, then you would act like it.”
Maybe I don’t see the external factors, but maybe something is happening. Maybe we’re not making great impressions on the people around us, but maybe God is satisfied. That would be cool. I’d be happy to fulfill God’s heart merely be taking God at his word. I don’t know if it works like that in my situation, but that could be a beautiful beginning to a great story of humble saints.
Wish us luck, say a prayer, but whatever you do… Let’s all journey on together. There’s more life coming soon.