By Allen White
By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. Hebrews 11:11 (NIV)
Have you ever watched someone take credit for something that they didn’t do? In a meeting yesterday, someone credited me with reducing the fee for hosting the upcoming Beth Moore simulcast (on Saturday, April 24. Tickets go on sale March 28). And, in fact, we paid less than half of what other churches paid.
Everyone at the table looked and me and asked how I did it. I replied, “Well, it was due to my keen negotiating skills, of course.” But, I couldn’t leave it there. The truth is that I had called the rep for the simulcast to express interest, and then I put the decision off for a while. Before I knew it, I had a voice mail saying that they would cut the price way down. It was negotiation by procrastination. Maybe I should write something about that (maybe I just did).
Whether you want to call it a blessing or just dumb luck, the whole thing had very little to do with me. While someone had to take the initiative, the result really wasn’t up to me.
God chose Abraham. Why? Was Abraham the best human alive? Was Abraham a seeker in an age before the seeker church? We don’t really know. What we do know is that God chose Abraham and in that choosing God gave Abraham a promise accompanied by a precious gift, faith. Abraham didn’t produce the faith. It was a gift, just like faith is a gift from God to you and me.
Now, please understand, we play a significant part. The biggest part we play is perseverance. Look at how much God’s Word encourages us not to give up. It took a lot for Abraham to feel comfortable in his newfound faith.
He believed God, but then there was moving ahead to possess the land, but living as a foreigner in a tent. There was the promise of being the father of many nations, but then there weren’t any children. There was a plan to help the promise along by having a child with Hagar, but then there was much disappointment at the result. There was resignation that Eliezer would be the heir, but then the promise wouldn’t be fulfilled.
Abraham’s experience is a truly human struggle with adjusting to the gift of faith. God’s promise wasn’t fulfilled based solely on Abraham, though Abraham was necessary. If we recall, Abraham’s schemes led to trouble. It was God’s faithfulness that produced the result.
Despite doubts, fears, schemes, and inadequacies, God is faithful. We don’t have to have it all figured out. We don’t have to be perfect. We just need to learn to depend on God’s faithfulness.
Now, some of us are wired for action. We’re ready to make things happen. Well, God wired us that way. But, activity isn’t the same as effectiveness. So, before we waste God’s time and ours, we need to seek God for His direction. Once we’ve heard from God, then we take action.
We don’t need to talk God into the work He wants to accomplish. We just need to hear from God and cooperate with His plan. That’s easier said than done at times.
What is God’s gift of faith producing in your life today? If you’re not sure, spend some time with Him. He’ll let you know.
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