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Sunday, February 3, 2013
Today’s Reading | Hebrews 11:8–16
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”
All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. (NRSV)
Text for this reflection: Hebrews 11:8
Catholic priest Thomas Merton once wrote a prayer that began “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.”
The beginning of Merton’s prayer reminds me of the words in prayer banners that were displayed in the church I served before coming to Fourth Church. The banner on one side of the chancel said, “The sign of God is that you are led where you did not plan to go.” The banner on the other side said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
There’s a place in our lives for setting goals, planning objectives, making an attempt to know the direction we’re headed. Some of that planning is responsible. We are meant to be good stewards of the lives we’ve been given. The problem comes when our goals and plans, our charts and strategic plans, take the place of our faithfulness to God. Another problem comes when we begin to think that we have ultimate control over those plans.
Abraham’s trust in God is extraordinary, hard for us to imitate. I like to imagine Abraham looking back over his years, marveling at the course his life took. When I look back over my life, I sometimes wonder, “How did I get here?” But I know the hand of God was in the mix of my life, and while I wasn’t always obedient and faithful, God continued charting the course, even though I had no clue.
Gracious and steadfast God, help me to trust the unknown future of my life to you, for you are a God we can trust. Thank you for leading me to an inheritance that has been gift upon gift and grace upon grace. Amen.
Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care
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