8 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
Whenever the matter and issue of faith is discussed, it is almost automatic and instinctive that we remember a man by the name of Abraham.
We recall in Genesis 12 that Abraham was a wealthy, prosperous and influential man. He was living a pretty much comfortable and contented life in Ur located in Southern part of Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq, when one day, at the age of 75 years old, was commanded by God to leave his country and start a whole new life in the land of Canaan. The words of the Lord in Abraham’s spirit, as written in Genesis 12: 1-3, were quite strong and emphatic, “Leave your country, your people and you father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you, I will course; and all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.”
It did not take Abraham a long time to decide and be convinced. He was not totally unfamiliar with the ways of the Lord. His forebears, who were descendants of Shem, the son of Noah, who survived the destructive flood the destroyed the whole earth- had taught and inspired Abraham to honor and respect the wisdom of the Lord. He did not ask God for a detailed explanation of the plans that were unfolding before his eyes. He did not also find any need to set any pre-conditions or demands from the Lord. He simply took God’s word and set forth in a journey that would forever change the course of his life and the course of human history. He took his wife Sarah, his nephew Lot who was like a son to him, all his servants and all his possessions with him in his journey.
Reflecting on this action of Abraham, the writer of Hebrews 11 points out that what enabled and empowered Abraham to move with such confidence and spiritual precision during a very crucial and defining moment in his life was his faith. Hebrews 11:8 reads, “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…” We learn from the experience of Abraham, that faith, in all its complexity, intricacy and profundity simply means obedience. And obedience, in all its expressions, variations and forms, only calls for two things: letting go and letting God.
Every so often in our lives, as decided and determined by the wisdom God, we come face to face with a similar experience as that which was experienced by Abraham. God pays us an unexpected visit. He calls us out of our comfort zones. He opens our hearts to dreams and visions we never imagined were possible. Finally, he comes closer to us and without any form of coercion, manipulation or force the Lord pops the question that will change us for the rest of our lives. He asks, “Are you in or are you out?” As you all know, many, if not most of us pastors, did not intentionally plan on becoming ministers. Most pastors have set their lives to pursue different careers.
After finishing my studies in St. Paul College of Nursing in 1991 , passing the board exams and working as a nurse at Makati Medical Center, my plan was to pursue higher education and establish a career in developmental research, training and instruction. When I informed my nursing supervisor about the call of Lord for me to serve in the church, I had to be asked many times over if I was totally sure of what I was about to do. When my professors and classmates in St. Paul found out about my plans, they were greatly concerned. I was the president of our class and an 18th board placer. So many people had such great hopes for my nursing career. When I broke the news to my family that I had accepted the invitation of the Church Council through late Dr. Cirilo A. Rigos, to work in the church, my father did not speak to me for days. I could now speak about that part of my life with so much joy and even humor because in hindsight, I know that my Papa’s reaction was not out of anger or contempt, but out of understandable shock and fatherly concern for the future of his eldest child. Many things have changed since then. For one, my Papa now smiles with pride when asked what I do for a living!
All of us have your own stories to share and journeys to reflect on. We have all experienced being interrupted by the Lord in the pursuit of that we thought was the good for us only to find out that there is a better and best plan each and every time. Like Abraham, we are sometimes called to pursue what is unfamiliar, untried and unknown.
Certainly, it can be the most frightening and intimidating thing in the world, but praise God that by faith in the Lord, it can also be the best thing that can ever happen to us. Trust and obey. As our favorite hymn go, there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
“Heavenly Father , like Abraham, open the eyes of our hearts that we may look forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Whenever you call us to new places we do not fully know, or do new things we have not even tried, teach us to let go and let God. O God of Abraham, remove our every fear and panic especially when our lives are disrupted and when our all our sincere plans suddenly fall apart. Remind us that just like Abraham, that there is always a bigger and higher purpose for our lives and for our existence. Grant us favor O Lord, that our acts of obedience do not become self-serving, but may result to the redemption and salvation of others who will be blessed and benefited by our faith in you.”