From the Pulpit: If you have the answers, it’s not ‘faith’

It’s one of the most powerful verses in the Bible, I think.

“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” (Hebrews 11:8).

Did you catch it? Abraham started a journey without knowing where he was headed!

It’s no accident that Abraham’s story is found in Genesis, the Bible’s first book. From the very beginning, God wanted people to connect with radical faith -- and Abraham’s faith was incredibly radical.

Abram left Ur, a community in modern-day Iraq, and traveled to what we now know as Israel. He made a big curve around the northern loop, slowly moving through modern-day Syria until he came to the heart of the Promised Land. From there, he would keep walking through the rugged Negev Desert, the Sinai Peninsula and into Egypt.

Eventually he returned to the heart of the Promised Land with his childless wife, Sarah, still wondering exactly where he was supposed to go, and what he was supposed to do.

If this is “faith,” then faith looks like a man who doesn’t have all the answers!

On more than one occasion Abram -- soon re-named Abraham -- asked God for clarification. If not about the where of it all, he certainly asked about the how.

If he was really going to father a nation, shouldn’t he and Sarah have at least one child? They were both well past their child-bearing years.

Abraham spent a lot of time trying to figure out what God wanted from him. He spent decades with questions before he ever got definitive answers. Even when his son was finally born, it wouldn’t be long before God even asked for the boy’s life!

Thankfully, the child’s life was spared.

That most difficult command, God explained, had been one final test of Abraham’s faith. When a man would not hold back his only son, God knew he had a man who would hold back nothing at all.

But all that walking had been a test of faith, too. Every step had been a little test of trust. All the questions had been part of the test. All the disappointing pregnancy tests were part of the test.

Abraham passed every exam, starting with that first leg of the journey when he set out -- “even though he did not know where he was going.”

What about you?

Got questions for God? Wondering what you’re supposed to do with your life? Confused about where you are, and why you’ve been where you’ve been? Worried that too much time already has passed and your purpose has yet to be discovered?

Welcome to Abraham’s world.

Here’s what I know to be true about the call of God. If you’re going to follow in faith, there will be a lot of walking when you don’t know where you’re going.

This is the heart of faith.

From God’s point of view, obedience is the main thing; whether you’ve got answers for your questions is irrelevant.

From God’s point of view, it’s more important to obey what you know to do, than whether you’re 100-percent sure what you’re doing is what you’re supposed to do.

From God’s point of view, it’s important that you hold nothing back -- nothing.

If you’re waiting for God to give you all the details of your future before you take the first step of faith, you’ll still be waiting when you’ve run out of time. And if you feel as though you’ve finally gotten Instruction No. 1? Don’t expect to hear Instruction No. 2 until you’ve completed your first assignment.

Obedience is faith in action; until you obey, you’ll not know the rewards of faith.

God has more time than you do. God has more knowledge than you do. Frankly, God holds all the cards.

The only thing in your control is an opportunity to act in faith when you have no idea where your actions will lead you.

By the end of his life, Abraham could see how God was working in every part of his journey. At the end of your life, you will probably see more clearly, too.

But today? More than likely, there’s just a path leading over the horizon and an invitation to follow.

That first step you’re about to take? That’s “faith.”

Start walking, and you’ll finally know what it is to live.

Andy Cook is the pastor of Shirley Hills Baptist Church in Warner Robins.