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The adventure of faith (2)

I think Hebrews 11:13-16 is an instructive passage in helping us to  think about the adventure of faith.

13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

The passage serves as a summation for the lives of the adventurers we read about in v. 4-12.  It explains exactly how they were able to do what they did.  I see three notable things.

First, note how they thought.  Verses 15-16 say, “If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.”  I made the point in a previous post that adventurous living is about truth being practiced.  Well, that’s our problem --- sometimes we suffer from truth decay.  We stop thinking the way we should and fall into the world’s pattern of thought (Romans 12:2).  A good way to combat truth decay is with mental floss.  We take the truths of Scripture and run them back and forth through our mind.  What truths?  Truths such as this:  the adventure of faith is an adventure because it is faith.  There’s adventure in trusting God, in taking Him at His word.  There’s adventure in obeying God, in saying “no” when a big part of us wants to say “yes,” (or vice versa).  There’s adventure in fasting and praying, serving, and giving.  There’s adventure in going where you’ve never been and doing what you’ve never done.  There’s adventure in reaching out to others. 

And then take a look at what they saw.  "They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  They walked by faith rather than by sight.  You can’t have adventure if you walk by sight!  The problem with walking by sight is that we cannot see everything there is to see.  Our sight is partial and limited.  What we see is what someone who looks through a hole in the wall would see – we don't see enough to really to get a complete sense of what is going on!  We're much better off trusting the One who sees everything.  The adventure is not to believe because we see, but to see because we believe!

The final thing he mentions has to do with how they talked.  They text says they “welcomed” the things they saw from a distance.  They “admitted” they were aliens and strangers on this earth.  I’ve come to believe that in many ways, what we talk about is more important than what we think about or what we see.  It seems to me that if we talk about it long enough, we’ll start to think about it and see it that way!  Our talking seems to shape our thinking and seeing as much as our seeing and thinking shapes our talking.  The Hebrew writer says, “People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.” 

How we think, how we see, how we speak – that’s us, isn’t it?  There can be no adventurous life unless something is ventured.  That something is us!

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds,” (John 12:24).       

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