Scripture: Hebrews 11:2-6
Today’s #WeWontShrinkBack Tool: Be bold in living out your faith and sharing it with others.
On Dec. 29, just a few days before the new year of 2016 began, I posted this to my blog:
I wrote in my journal, “2016 is a year for open hands.” Call it a goal or a prophecy, but I know that right now, as I enter 2016, God is asking me to keep my hands open. I’m not supposed to clench my fists, gripping everything I know and feel comfortable with; I’m supposed to open my hands, ready to risk, but also ready to receive what God will give me as I walk into a new year and a new season.
I wrote about some things that were coming new for me in the year 2016: new things with the release of my book, new things with my church and job, the new season of being a foster parent, etc. So much new.
I shared that there in my place of anticipation, I thought back to a verse I had studied a few months before: “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.” (Joshua 3:5) I knew that for me, part of consecrating myself for the amazing things God is going to do tomorrow is to empty my hands—to say to God, “Not my will, but Yours be done”—and get ready to receive what God will give. I need to have OPEN HANDS to show faith that God is going to do something new.
I posted it to my blog and then headed to Walmart and Kroger. I bought a sandwich from Penn Station for dinner, then came home and put my groceries away. Later that night, I checked my email on my phone before I got in bed. I was surprised at how many emails I had received already from my friends who had read that blog post. I was even more surprised at how much that post resonated with these friends. They confessed that they had been dreading the changes coming in their lives in 2016. Here are a few of the things they told me:
I sat on my bed and scrolled through the emails. My heart felt heavy for my friends. And then I got to the last email. It was my friend Rachel. After she shared the difficult changes she anticipated in 2016, she wrote out a prayer. I laughed and cried at the same time as I read what she wrote.
“Friend, let’s stand together and DO THIS!!!! 2016 HERE WE COME!!! Let’s PREPARE with OPEN hands! Time to RISK! Time for a new thing! Holy Spirit, help your daughters!!! Tenderly give us the courage and excitement and GREAT EXPECTATION that we need!”
I realized that Rachel’s attitude and encouragement was exactly the same kind of faith that the author of Hebrews was urging us to have. The author tells us to look at the ancients—the men and women who lived by faith in generations past.
“[Having faith] is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:2
According to the author of Hebrews, faith is a key ingredient to pleasing God. The ancients were commended for having faith… not talent, not beauty, not toned muscles, not diplomas, not big paychecks, not eloquent words or street smarts, not a perfectly organized desk or white teeth. They were commended for their faith.
As chapter 11 goes on, the author lists for us the names of some of the ancients who stuck out to him:
Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’ parents, Moses, the people of Israel as they walked through the Red Sea on dry land, Rahab, the people of Israel as they marched around Jericho, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets, etc.
These men and women were leaders in their generations. They lived by faith in their time and spread God’s love and truth to the people in their sphere of influence. God used their faith in their time, and now they are being rewarded for all eternity.
As you look at that list of names, maybe it seems unattainable. Maybe it seems like you don’t have the kind of faith it takes to make a difference in your sphere of influence. But these names in this chapter—they weren’t perfect people; I’m sure they didn’t feel like perfect or even courageous. You might be more like them thank you realize. Let me remind you: WE ARE NOT OF THOSE WHO SHRINK BACK… WE ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE (Hebrews 10:39).
Let me ask you this: Why shouldn’t your name be on the list for your generation?
It starts with little steps of faith. It reminds me of the well-known Annie Dillard quote: “How we live our days is, of course, how we live our lives.” If we live our days with perseverance, confidence in God’s faithfulness, and taking action with our faith, we are pleasing God more than we realize.
Do you remember my friend’s email to me? Her encouragement was full of faith because she was earnestly seeking God for the next year of her life.
Check out Hebrews 11:6.
“And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Let’s look at the last part of Hebrews 11:6 where it says that having faith means believing that God “rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Believing this would mean that we trust that God sees our situations, He cares about the details of our lives, and like the good, generous Father that He is, He’s eager to reward us when we trust Him and take steps of faith in our lives. Some rewards may happen on earth; the biggest reward is in heaven.
What about you?
Do you trust that God see your situation—in your town, in your family, in your job?
Do you trust that God cares (really cares!) about the details of your life?
Do you trust that God is eager to reward you when you trust Him and take steps of faith in your life?
God bless you!
Hope you can remember & apply our #WeWontShrinkBack tools from Hebrews 10:32-11:6:
Mary works at Brookville Road Community Church, where she leads children's ministry and women's ministry. She is the author of She Won't Shrink Back: A Story of Building & Believing.