(Genesis 15:1-6, Psalm 33:12-22, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16)
(watch here: https://youtu.be/G4jhWbNaQsw)
[Jesus said:] 32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
They tell the story of a mountain climber who, desperate to conquer Mount Everest, set out on his climb after years of preparation. But he wanted the glory to himself so he went up alone. He started climbing and it was becoming later and later. He hadn’t prepared for camping so he decided to keep on going.
Soon it got dark. Night fell with heaviness at the very high altitude. Visibility was zero. Everything was black. There was no moon and the stars were covered by clouds. As the climber was climbing a ridge at about 100 meters from the top, he slipped and fell. Falling rapidly, he could only see blotches of darkness that passed. He felt a terrible sensation of being sucked in by gravity. He kept falling and in those anguishing moments both good and bad memories passed through his mind. He thought certainly he would die.
But then he felt a jolt that almost tore him in half. Yes! Like any good mountain climber, he had staked himself with a long rope tied to his waist. In those moments of stillness, suspended in the air, he had no other choice but to shout: “HELP ME GOD. HELP ME!”
All of a sudden he heard a deep voice from heaven. “What do you want me to do?”
The climber cried out, “SAVE ME!”
“Do you REALLY think that I can save you?” responded the voice from heaven.
“OF COURSE, MY GOD!” the climber exasperated.
“Then cut the rope that is holding you up.” There was another moment of silence and stillness. But the man just held tighter to the rope.
The rescue team says that the next day they found a frozen mountain climber hanging strongly to a rope…just two feet off the ground.
Many of us claim to have fairly strong faiths. We place our undying trust in God and God’s ability to provide. We should be placing our complete trust in God…God does provide! In fact, it is only God that provides. Without God, we would have nothing. No families, no jobs, no friends, no homes, no health, no joy, no love, no happiness, no life, no death…nothing! EVERYTHING we have is given to us by our loving and gracious Father. God is the greatest and most reliable provider each of us can ever know. It is right and fitting that we ought to place our sure and steady trust in God. Yet when our faiths are tested, they often prove to be less strong than we had initially claimed. Much to our surprise, we allow doubt into our lives. And doubt is the product of fear. We can easily find ourselves in relationships or situations that we don’t understand or know how to get out of. Fear arises from such relationships and situations. Fear keeps us from understanding and finding resolutions. Fear keeps us from relying on our faiths. God’s ability to provide is questioned. It isn’t that God ever stopped providing nor will He stop providing but fear gets ahold of us and we begin to doubt our faith in God’s provision. But God walks with us into whatever situation or relationship we find ourselves in. God provided the means for us to walk into them and yes, God provides the means for us to walk out of them. It is fear and fear alone that tries to convince us otherwise and God doesn’t want us to be a fearful people. God wants us to be a fearless people. God wants us to have sure and steady faith in His ability to provide. God wants us to love him as He so loves us! These are what God wants…
Yet what God wants is often not what we give. We allow fear into our lives. We dangle just feet off the ground because we’re afraid that God might not provide for us in our time of need. Or perhaps more accurately, we’re afraid that God won’t provide what we want or what we think we need. Like any good parent, God isn’t in the business of providing only for our wants. On occasion, He provides for our wants but He’s mainly concerned with providing for our needs. And what we think we need often isn’t the same as what God thinks we need. And therein lies the necessity of faith. Only God fully understands what we need, when we need it. Only God can sift through our pleas of desperation and provide exactly what we need at exactly the right time. Only God can know and provide for our needs. These are hard truths to accept especially in the culture we live in. Our culture wants us to believe that we are the masters of own destinies. It is our responsibility to determine our own needs and then work towards satisfying our own needs. Only we know what we need and how to get it, or so our culture would have us believe. But in actuality, we only know a portion of what we need. Remember, only God knows what we need and when we need it. We’re fools to believe otherwise.
Of course, many of us do actually have strong faiths. We cling to the assurance of our faiths in unknown relationships and situations, so much so that we don’t allow fear into our lives. We recognize God’s provision and full understanding of our needs. Scripture gives us several accounts of such people as well. In our passage from Genesis, we heard of the strong faith shown by Abram. Recall that Abram was a man getting along in life without any sons to carry on his legacy. Fearing death without an heir, he too cried out, “Save me, O God!” Just as He answered the cries of the climber, God answers Abrams plea and provides for him. The only catch was that Abram had to actually live according to his faith. He had to leave his home and family and friends and go out into the unknown world and have faith in God’s ability to provide. Abram’s faith was strong enough to venture forth into the unknown and because of it the nation of Israel was born. Not only was his faith rewarded with an heir but an entire nation of heirs. God provides in ways we do not understand and often in such abundance. This is the God we place our trust in.
Indeed, we are all called into the great unknown of our own lives. We don’t know how, when, where, and why God will provide for us on our pilgrim journey. At times, we can delude ourselves into believing that it is by our own skill that we are able to provide for our needs. But quickly recall that we have nothing without God’s grace and love. Everything we have is a gift from our loving God. Even if we attribute all our blessings to God, there will be times when fear will try and get us to doubt God’s provision. We must resist such fear and cling to our faiths. God does provide just as mysteriously and abundantly as He provided for Abram. Let us not be a fearful people. Let us be an assured people. Whatever situation or relationship we find ourselves in, let us always cling to the hope of Jesus and remember to just…have a little faith.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.