Boy, it is hard to think about our life after reminiscing about the lives of those faithful giants listed in Hebrews 11. We tend to compare ourselves with them, both in the good and the bad. We’d love to do something great, something extraordinary for God just like them. When we think of Enoch we can only image what it would be like to be translated. Translated?? Somebody needs to translate that word for me, so Paul did. He says that Enoch was translated “so that he should not see death” (Heb. 11: 5). Wow! His faith was so great and powerful that God allowed him to cheat death. I want that! Or Abraham. God called him to leave his home, his life, and go to a new home even though Abraham did not know where in the world God was sending him. Nothing like a little adventure with God in control. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, had a baby in old age because God promised her a son. When she had Isaac, she had lived longer than most of us will live, yet she was having her first baby. Remember that Abraham was Sarah’s husband and he was ever older than she was. Through this old man and old lady they had descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the beach. Each time you run your toes through a sandy beach think about that a little.
Of course God was not through with Abraham yet, so He led him up to a mountain and told Abraham to use his only son as a sacrifice in his worship to Him. That was tough, but it certainly made life exciting for Abraham! Even though this looked like a bad thing for Abraham, it certainly appears as though God had some special plans for Abraham. God just needed to make sure that Abraham was on His side.
It is tough being a parent, I am sure. But being asked to offer up your son to God might be going a bit too far, but not for Abraham. Or in the case of Moses’ parents, they chose to refuse Pharaoh’s orders and hid their son for three months. They were not afraid of Pharaoh and his commandments! And that courage paid off big time. For after Moses was grown up he lead the children of Israel safely through the Red Sea—something that Pharaoh and all of his horses and mighty men could not do!
The story of Rahab is a hard one to swallow. We all know about Rahab. After all, she was a harlot, not exactly a pillar of the community. She had a reputation. Everyone knew who she was. Surely God knew. The word was out on the street, after all. But Rahab, of all people, was chosen for a special part in God’s work. She hid two spies (and lied about it) sent out by Joshua to check out the land including Jericho. What she did took great daring on her part. And what did she get out of all of this? She got great faith, God spared her, she got a mention in the faith chapter (Hebrews 11), and she became an ancestor of the Messiah, Jesus (Matt. 1:5). Sometimes it just doesn’t seem right, that someone like Rahab who lived such a bad life, could then be used in such an extraordinary way by God. In comparison, our lives, which we try very hard to live in a worthy manner for Him, are pretty boring. I wonder, are we, am I, doing something wrong? Why don’t we have stories to tell like Enoch, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and even Rahab, about how God is using us? What is wrong with us?
At times we feel as though we are not accomplishing anything for God. Are we still on the same team with God? Everything is going smoothly, but we are not doing anything really big for God. I’d love to hide a few spies! What is wrong with us? Have we lost our way? Or, is it God who has quietly slipped out the back door of our lives?
Maybe Paul has read our minds. Because he seems to speak about these same things, if we look closely and maybe read between the lines a bit. Hebrews 13 begins with the simple things, the simple acts that we are to accomplish. Not a lot of fanfare. Not a lot of glory or bells and whistles. Certainly no sea parting and walking on dry ground stuff. Just the basics.
“Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all…Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”( Hebrews 13: 15-16 and 1-5)
No, He has not quietly slipped out the back door of our lives.
It’s just that God does not demand extraordinary things from us. He simply wants the simple things.