March 19, the Tenth Day of Lent

March 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

-Hebrews 11.10-

The author of Hebrews continues speaking of Abraham in this verse. Over the past few days, we can considered how Abraham’s sojourning evidenced how he lived by faith. In this verse, we discover what Abraham was looking forward to; he was looking forward to a city, a habitation that God designed and constructed.

We pondered Abraham’s nomadic lifestyle yesterday. If he had wanted, Abraham could have moved into a city and become part of the society there. He commanded vast wealth and resources; he probably could have made his own city and populated it. However, he remained a tent-dweller, living as a traveler and a foreigner.

He lived in this manner because his faith was firmly grounded in the belief that God would live up to the promise made in Genesis 12.1-3. Abraham had the ability to make his own future in the situation; he could have continued to exercise power and authority and become a local ruler; and, in so doing, might have thought that he was seeing God’s promise being fulfilled. However, he lived from the belief that God was responsible for and would provide for not only his current living situations, but for those of his descendants as well. He anticipated this “city,” the divine fulfillment of the promise, and was content to live in tents until it arrived.

During the season of Lent, we take time to examine ourselves; we intentionally recognize our shortcomings and sins in this time, in order that we may place them in God’s control. One way in which we fall short is that we attempt to complete God’s job for him. We have received the promise, but we want to see the situation resolved on our schedule, to the best of our understanding. While nothing is wrong with desiring resolution, attempting to “force” God’s plans is a problem; it demonstrates that even though we believe God to be in a position where he may make promises to us, we do not believe him to be capable of carrying out these promises. This is not the life of faith.

Looking back at Abraham, one might wonder how much restraint it took to resign himself (and his entire household) to living in tents until God fulfilled his promise. One may also wonder how much patience was learned and trust was gained through those years. Yet we find ourselves in similar situations: situations where we have the opportunity to do God’s job for him (as we understand it), and build our own “city.” Or we may choose to “live in tents” until God resolves the situation; this is the life of faith, trusting in the fulfillment of God’s promise and living in anticipation of its completion.

As we journey through Lent together, may we wait upon God.

“Dear Lord, thank you for your plan for me and your promises. Many times, I have tried to complete your plans. Forgive me for my lack of faith. Help me to grow in trust, patience, and faith; trust that you are at work, patience to remain where I am, and faith to believer your promises. Thank you, Lord. Amen.”

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