Follow me! A young Father says to his little child. It’s the first Christmas she’ll remember. She wobbles forward smiling. One step – two steps walking towards her Father. Does she know there are presents in the other room? No! Does she know how many presents there are? No! In fact for all she knows the other room contains snakes and spiders. So why does she listen and follow? She trusts dad’s voice. She has seen his love. She’d follow him anywhere even without physically seeing the end of the road because her trust already sees that daddy only gives her good things in the end. It’s as though she can see the future knowing a good result is in store.
Wouldn’t it be great if our relationship with God was always that faith filled? God’s Word today causes us to see our future with eyes on the promise and with eyes of faith from God.
For the small child on Christmas morning, the road to the presents is pretty short. For Christians though the length of the road to the gift of heaven is long, fraught with distractions.
Early Christians hearing these verses remembered Jesus saying, “I will take you to be in paradise where I am.” But they lived in a world of Christian persecution and financial hardship. And so they start to look down the road and say, “God is it time yet?” They start to doubt that the gift is there at the end of the road. Easier to look for instant gratification in the world – trust in money, self, and social structure rather than wait on God to keep his promise.
Hebrews 11 encouraged their wavering faith by reminding them what faith is by definition and by example. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Faith is not always instantly gratified. Faith stares at future heaven and says, “That’s real for me. Though all I physically see right now is struggle.”
These early Christians looked back to their forefather Abraham to see how God given faith worked in his life. God called Abraham to move to a place he had never been where he owned no land. God called him to live in a tent – the definition of temporary. God called him to trust that a child would come to His wife even though she was 100 years old. How was it that a man who had nothing but temporary on his walk with God could believe that a city with foundations, Heaven, would be his? How was it that a man who had no son till his wife was 100 could believe that his descendant Jesus would save the world from sin? Faith. The road was long, it was hard, and Abraham was imperfect just like those early Christians. He wanted instant gratification and yet God caused him to see the future by making him an incredible promise. Hebrews 11 holds up faith as something that sees a promise as fulfilled even when it is long off.
Now I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that our modern culture likes to have proof for everything. If somebody makes a promise – we literally say things like I’ll trust but I need to verify and it needs to happen quickly.
God says there are riches in store for heaven. We say I want riches now. If you really love me God prove it today. If you are really my God fix this problem for me. I want instant results today so I’ll buy my heaven, I’ll learn and create heaven here on earth, I’ll be a temple of physical and financial health because I ain’t waiting on God who is apparently slow to bless. We look at a bumpy and sinful world and say there’s no point no use I’ll just do it myself God. One Lutheran Pastor said this about how our faith often functions…”Eyes that should be raised to heaven are riveted on the earth. Feet that should be tramping toward heaven are stuck in earth’s swamps. Hands that should be reaching for eternal treasures are wrapped around gaudy but lesser trinkets, backs that should be straining for God’s kingdom are bent over in valueless pursuit.” God says see the future – look past the struggle. We say I’d rather go alone and do it myself today. That’s the opposite of faith.
And so God combats our lack of faith by giving repeating his amazing promise. That though we waivered when traveling down the road of life – the promise never changed. The end of the road was always the same. Every good and perfect gift comes from above from the father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows. God’s gift of forgiveness love and heaven is sure yesterday, today, and forever. The promise that he gave to Abraham of a land flowing with milk and honey is the promise that he gives to you through Jesus Christ. Your future is bright and faith lays hold of that beautiful eternity. Yes for now you welcome these promises from a distance but one day it is certain that your better country – your heavenly home is right there waiting. Our faith wains and doubts. God’s steadfastness and promise has never once changed for you. He said I’m sending my Son – he followed through – so when he says heaven will be yours faith sees that as fact.
As I think back to that illustration of the child following after her dad on Christmas morning. It’s sort of interesting how at first children just follow. Over the years though things make them not want to follow dad or mom’s voice so much. Sometimes it’s when dad messes up. Sometimes it’s when the child’s faith in parents simply waivers.
We know God’s promises are clearly seen. But what about when rocky points on the road of life divert our focus. What about when the world gets so dark that you can’t see the light anymore?
When your eyes struggle to see the amazing heaven that is in store – see how God creates faith not for perfect people…but for sinners. The eyes of faith come about from the Word of God. When you fall off the road – when you can’t see him – God provides an in depth view at his promises to readjust your vision to help you see again right here in the Bible. That’s why he gives you water in this font to see – why he gives you body and blood bread and wine to drink. He knows you can’t always see clearly so he puts his love right in front of your face to create faith. Friends partake of these things often so you can clearly see always!
Our verse of the day for today was, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” It’s hard as sinful Christians to keep focused on God. It’s hard to have faith that looks to things unseen in Heaven. How do I seek it? The key is that it was never you at all. You see your future in heaven because God gave you a clear promise that worked faith into you. All those promises written right here so that your eyes of faith grow looking at your heavenly future.