Been reading this book recently. Read this bit last week. Thought it was cool, its pretty self-explanatory.
Despite the honour accorded him as the father of this new race, however, Abraham emerges as as the Bible’s first example of a person severely disappointed with God. Miracles, he had. Abraham entertained angels in his home and dreamed mystical visions of smoking pot fires. But there was one nagging problem: after the promise, after a blaze of revelation, came silence – long years of bewildering silence.
“Go, claim the land I have for you,” God said. But Abraham found Canaan dry as a bone, its inhabitants dying of famine. To stay alive he fled to Egypt.
“You’ll have descendants as countless as the stars in the sky,” God said. No promise could have made Abraham happier. At age seventy-five he still anticipated a tent filled with the sounds of children at play. At eighty-five he worked out a backup plan with a female servant. At ninety-nine the promise seemed downright ludicrous, and when God showed up to confirm it, Abraham laughed in his face. A father at ninety-nine? Sarah in maternity clothes at ninety? They both cackled at the thought.
A laugh of ridicule but also of pain. God had dangled a bright dream of fertility before a barren couple and then sat on his hands and watched as they advanced towards tottery old age. What kind of game was he playing? Whatever did he want?
God wanted faith, the bible says, and that is the lesson Abraham finally learned. He learned to believe when there was no reason left to believe. And although he did not live to see the Hebrews fill the land as stars fill the sky, Abraham did live to see Sarah bear one child – just one – a boy, who forever preserved the memory of absurd faith, for his name Issac meant “laughter
And the pattern continued: Issac married a barren woman, as did his son Jacob. The esteemed matriarchs of the convenant – Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel – all spent their best child-bearing years slender and in despair. They too experienced the the blaze of revelation, followed by dark and lonely of waiting that nothing but faith would fill.
A gambler would say God stacked the odds against himself. A cynic would say God taunted the creatures he was supposed to love. The bible simply uses the cryptic phrase “by faith” was what God valued, and it soon became clear that faith was the best way for humans to express a love for God.
Philip Yancey – Disappointment with God (p70/71)
I love the notion of sacrifice in theory, but in practice I instinctively opt for side-stepping it at virtually every opportunity. I respect it so much when I see it in others, and deep down dream of being a man of sacrifice big time… but when the moment arrives to follow through, I almost always bail out, put off by the cost and inconvenience.
Sacrifice is exactly what the Christian life calls us to though. If we’re serious about following Jesus, we’re required (demanded?) to make our peace with it. Biblically there’s no getting around it. Following Gods every instruction will cost us. Sacrifice by definition requires there be a cost, if there wasn’t one, it would cease to be a sacrifice. I’m stupid to think otherwise.
A few paragraphs of a book I read a few weeks ago left me feeling pretty challenged…
“We are groomed to become someone, not to empty ourselves for others. But in order to follow Jesus Christ with any degree of tenacity, we inevitably will be prompted to take demonstrations. We will be asked to relinquish what is “rightfully” ours. We will inconvenience ourselves to the point of sacrifice, even when others call us fools. And we will do it for two simple reasons: first, we understand that the kingdom of God never advances without sacrifice; and second, because every serious-minded Christian I know wants to receive a heartfelt “well done!” in heaven someday.
In fact, almost every time you hear a prompting from God, something safe or predictable most likely has to go but you persevere knowing that when you take the risks he as asking you to take – as you conform to his mission in yet one more way – the kingdom moves forward.
This is what it looks like to live a life fully surrendered to God. Its rarely a walk in the park. Obeying the Spirit instead of your own self-centered whims will lead you to places you’ve never been, challenge you in ways you have never been challenged and invite levels of sacrifice you never dreamed you could make. This is the power and the promise of full-throttle faith, of living a life fuelled solely by God.”
Bill Hybels – The Power of a Whisper (p252/253)
Now for the application…