The message during worship this morning took note of Hebrews 11, in which Abraham was cited as a champion of faith. “8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (NIV).” Abraham had faith, Abraham obeyed, Abraham acted on that faith – but . . . .
Here I deviate from the Pastor’s lesson. Yes, Abraham is the spiritual father of our faith, he is an example in outcome, and in his loyalty in God’s promise. But, he like us, was human. He had his flaws, and his faith was developmental. He grew in the Lord. He had his false starts, doubts, and struggles. He is our father in these things too.
When God called the then Abram to leave Harran, he did obey. He trusted in God that he would be given a land, and he went “from [his] country, [his] people and [his] father’s household to the land I will show you (Gen 12:1 NIV).” It is the second part of the promise Abram seemed to have reservations about. Because in verse 2 and following, God tells him He will make him a great nation. He and his offspring will be a blessing to the world.
So what does Abraham do with this promise? He hedges his bets, and takes his heir (his nephew Lot) with him. But this is as man sees, not as God sees. Lot and Abraham soon fall out, and Abraham continues on his journey but questions. “But Abram said, ‘Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir (Gen 15:2-3 NIV).” Lord – I am childless, Lot has abandoned me, Eliezer is the closest thing I have, so where are the children? God once again promises him a child.
It is Sarah who next hedges the bet. If not Lot or Eliezer, if it is to be your own son – then take my servant Hagar. She will make you a father. Abraham once again follows the human path and concedes. Ishmael is born, but God’s plan and promise is still unfulfilled.
Late in their lives God intervenes, and Sarah conceives Issac: the son of God’s promise. Abraham’s journey was not just one from Harran to Canaan, but from trust in himself and his own plans to those of God. If we are honest with ourselves, are we any different?
Lord, help us to be faithful. Lord aid us in truly trusting you. Your way, not mine, because Lord I am flawed.