Abraham was a man of vision, which was a result of the voice of God to him, relaying to him a prophecy of what was to come. In all likelihood, the expanse of the unfolded future relayed to him seemed a fantasy of sorts. It was big. It was long range. And it outsized his circumstances. This is only the beginning of the story, and Abraham as initial collaborator, embraced it.
This story that was told to Abraham, even tho at the time his name was Abram, is also our story as believing followers of Jesus Christ. That may strike you as odd, but we can see those clear assertions in the New Testament. We are heirs of the promises God gave to Abraham those long millennia past in the highlands of Ur of the Chaldeans. It may be that we haven’t focused too much on the promise God gave to Abraham because we have not seen this as one continuing story which we have a part and contribution in.
Not only is the ongoing story, important. but important also is what we can learn from Abraham’s approach, and how it contrasts with so much of this passing age that surrounds us. As any engaging story, Abraham’s weaknesses are also present for viewing, but this part is not what I want to focus on. It seems that God’s communication to Abraham, as you might imagine, left a mark on the ancient father. The mark I am talking about here is vision. And not just the capacity to see the future, but an ability to cooperate with what was seen.
We hear in the echoes of the voices of the leadership gurus of our times the need for vision as a component of leadership. It’s true, vision is important. At the same time, I think what we are talking about so often in our times, and what Abraham received and stewarded, are rarely similar beyond the naming.
To elaborate a little further around this idea, we can consider the “hall of faith” from Hebrews 11, and specifically that, they too, seemed to be imbued with the same kind and quality of vision that Abraham had. After all, he is referred to as “the father of our faith.” Specifically what I am driving at is the element of seeing beyond ourselves. According to the chapter, they all died, not having received what they were promised. In so many current circles of the Church, that would be seen as defeat. And that, almost singlehandedly, proves we don’t get it.
Now there is a ton to say about this, and we could attempt to tie it all back in and make it tidy, perhaps how they were working toward a future that has now come. But in doing that, I am pretty sure we would miss the point I am trying to make, and one I think we can really learn from, as it was recently emphasized to me.
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the whole heritage of faith, were living for and investing themselves for something yet to come, that did not happen within their lifetimes.
That’s cool for Sunday school, but what does it have to do with us. Here it is in short.
This is faith.
Faith is future, and it is now. It’s both.
And I am not only talking about faith “being future” for an upcoming payment that is due that doesn’t seem to be sorted out. We each have a part and contribution to what is to come. A patriarchal perspective, in this example, is a view beyond yourself, and even beyond your current stewardship of this life. This is probably a good time to remind us of the scripture that says “If we have hope only in this life, we are of all men most miserable…”. He is not just talking about the abstract and opaque afterlife story that we have all heard, by the way.
Focusing too closely on what we want in our own lifetime can be and is often an idol, and a real threat to our contributrion to those who are coming after us. So much of this is done all in “the name of the Lord”, no less…
The approach I am talking about, and the one Abraham had, is largely in contrast to so many kings, queens and rulers of old – as well as many in the present times – who work tirelessly to build an idol of themselves and their reputations. So much of this is to attempt to prove, chiefly to the nagging internal voice, that we are not insignificant. But it only results in pride.
We don’t hope in the future, we hope in the Lord. We have been made alive, in Him, (a partial fulfillment of what was promised to Abraham) into a kingdom that will never fade away! Hallelujah!! We need to ask for grace from God to have a view that goes beyond the tip of our nose. Clearly God sees time immemorial and endless ages to come of the glory of Christ at the same time. Perhaps it’s time we asked for and received an upgrade on our perspective?
How can we begin to see our lives as a part of a larger unfolding story, one in which all the promises made to Abraham (and to Jesus) have complete fulfillment? What can we do today, and tomorrow, to take our place in this story?
You can be sure that there are many snares, which will need to be avoided. There will be failings. Also, there will be tests. But there will be victories! All of these things are true in Abraham’s story. I encourage you to read it again in, starting in Genesis 12 or so. But this time when you read it, see his story as a part of your story, as the ancient beginning. It’s the same story of faith, on that will culminate in the untold ages to come in Christ!
And I encourage you to lift your vision and perspective up, in and by God’s grace, from these ancient beginnings, to think about the future. Receive hope, even if you don’t receive a ton of detail. Christ’s story is yet unfolding, and you have a chapter to write! It’s called a life of faith. And don’t make too much of yourself, reputation, or legacy. Take heart, your life is significant, even if never prominent, in a worldly sense. We will do well to avoid the temptations of prominence that come as a snare to undermine our significance.