All these people [Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob] 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, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 11:13, NIV 2010*
These and other heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11 were commended for being sure of what they hoped for and certain of what they did not see. Their faith was not in themselves or in their hopes and dreams. They put their faith in God, and His nature gave them the assurance to believe.
This chapter highlights some of the ways they showed their faith: understanding that God made the universe (v 3), sacrifices of praise and worship (v 4), obedience (lots of obedience… building the ark (v 7), leaving home for the promised land (v 8), Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac (v 17), believing God’s promise (v 9), blessing their descendants who were one generation closer to receiving the promise (v 20). And the list goes on.
Faith brought a lot of victories, and it strengthened people to endure a lot of pain and persecution. Because they considered the Promise Maker faithful. I love how verse 27 describes Moses: “he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”
So what about us? Most of us are in that safe, ordinary range between the two extremes: we’re not going to be big names in the history books for either our victories or our defeats. But like I said last week, that doesn’t mean where we are is any less important to God.
We’re still called to please Him by our faith. We can believe He made the universe, we can offer the sorts of sacrifices He really wants (mercy, justice, walking humbly with Him). Instead of getting distracted by the here and now, we can live today mindful of God’s promises. He said He’d always be with us in our todays, and He also said we’d be with Him for eternity.
Creator God, You keep Your promises and nothing can change that. Forgive us for getting distracted by the present. Help us to enjoy the present and serve You well in it. But help us keep our eyes on You—and on eternity with You. That makes our time here more purposeful, because we’ll be acting in faith in Your promise.