The life of Abraham fascinates me.
The name of Abraham—or Abram in the early days—pops up throughout the Bible. His story covers over twelve chapters alone in the book of Genesis. He is touted as a paradigm of faith: the poster child of what faith should look like. From his first steps of obeying God’s call to leave his country and go somewhere God would show him, to that death defying moment when God asked him to sacrifice his son, Abraham’s faith waxes and wanes; flickers, then bursts into full flame.
What made Abraham’s faith so noteworthy?
I want to know more. I want to know why the Bible says he’s the prototype of faith. How did he get that way? Why did God choose to use Abraham as a picture of faith? And can I become a person of strong faith like Abraham? What can I learn from his life story that will help me become stronger in my faith in God?
I’m in the midst of examining the life of Abraham with a Bible study group. Together we’re asking, What does Abraham’s life tell us about growing our faith in God? Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share with you in this blog what our group discovers. Today, we’ll look at the initial story in Genesis 12 when Abraham took his first steps toward faith.
Genesis 12:1-4 seems so clear. God said, “Leave your country and go to the land I’ll show you. I promise you that I have great things in store for you and your descendants.” And Abraham, his wife, Sarah, and his nephew, Lot, went.
God said go. Abraham went.
Fact: It wasn’t that clear cut.
Check out these other verses to get the full story:
- Genesis 11:31-12:8
- Acts 7:2-4
- Hebrews 11:8
Connecting all these together, we discover God talked to Abraham twice. The first time, after God called Abraham,Daddy Terah took the family to Haran, which was along the natural trade route. The problem was, they stopped. Terah eventually died in Haran and God commanded Abraham to continue on to the land he would show him – Canaan a.k.a. today’s Israel.
Did Daddy Terah take over the plans? Did God need to make it clear to Abraham, “I’m not making a great nation out of your dad. YOU, Abraham, will be the patriarch. The promises I’m making are for YOU.”
Yet, evidently, Abraham’s call from God had enough clout that Terah listened to his son and took the family as far as Haran. The important part for us is that Abraham said yes. And then he took those first steps. He stepped out the door and went where God told him to go.
What does this tell me about faith?
Two takeaways come to my mind.
- First, Abraham had to have some core belief in God to accept that it was the Lord who was talking to him. He had to accept that God was someone worth listening to, someone who had the authority to tell him what to do. We don’t know how God spoke to Abraham. It could have been a dream, a face-to-face encounter, or an audible voice in his head. The important thing is that Abraham believed in the existence of God, a God who wanted to have a relationship with the people on earth.
- Second, Abraham showed his faith in God by what he did next. He heard and then he obeyed. He did what God asked him to do. His actions showed that he believed the promises God had made to him. God didn’t give many details at this point. He didn’t say when, where, or how those promises would be fulfilled. But Abraham didn’t ask for explanations. He obeyed God without the details. That’s faith.
Faith is intricately connected with obedience. We show our trust in God’s faithfulness to fulfill his promises by doing what He says.
What does this mean for me?
Moving can be exciting or scary. So many unknowns. A wonderful time to start fresh. We’re excited. What new friends will we make? What new experiences will we have? But it’s scary too. Will I be able to handle the unknown? Change can be hard; wouldn’t life be easier if I stayed where I am?
We have other firsts in our lives:
- New baby
- New job
- Different church
- A change in our volunteer work or ministry
Each new venture requires us to move forward and take those first steps. Putting one foot in front of the other shows our confidence and willingness to believe that we can do this thing, that God will be with us through this new time, and that we’ll be stronger and better for it.
How is God calling you?
- You might have a new opportunity unfold before you.
- You might see a command in the Bible you know you need to obey.
- You may get that Holy Spirit nudge to go boldly where you haven’t gone before.
Any of these takes faith that God is in it, He’ll stay with you, and He’ll bring about great things as you cooperate with Him.
Each step shouts your conviction that God will remain faithful.
Have you found your feet stuck recently in pause mode? The future seems uncertain and you aren’t sure if God is in what lies ahead? Check out Scripture, do a lot of praying, and then take those first few steps forward. Those initial steps say YES to God and show that you trust He will reveal more details in time and He’ll keep His promises to see you through.
Your faith may be as small as one step but it’s enough to get you going and enough for God to have something to work with.
Do it. Say yes. Take one step.
Read Ephesians 3:20,21 and Philippians 4:13
If nothing were to hold you back, what would you like to accomplish for the Kingdom of God? What is holding you back from doing this?
If God told you He wanted to do something great with your life that is beyond your capabilities or current sphere of influence, something you would consider as improbable bordering on impossible, what would be your emotional reaction to that? How do you need to pray for that season of life?
You can’t do everything at once. And God’s package of promises don’t arrive all at once either. Break the big dream into little steps. What first steps of faith will you take this week to cooperate with God’s plan for you? Doing anything that sets you in the direction of God’s calling to obey His words is an act of faith.