The book of Hebrews is one of my favorites in the Bible. It was written to the Jewish people by an unknown author, explaining how Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of centuries of God’s promises to His people. One of my Bible college professors was convinced that it could have been written by Priscilla, Aquila’s wife who was a prominent figure in the early church. Whether he was correct in his belief, we won’t know until we get to eternity, but it’s always fun to remember that there were women, active in the early church, telling their own beautiful stories about Jesus.
As I began to pray about about the idea for this Beautiful Stories blog, which I believe to be a “God idea,” I was reminded of Hebrews, chapter 11, the Great Faith Chapter. In verse 2 (MSG paraphrase), the author of Hebrews describes faith, “By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.” Faith is what gives us a perspective of history, of this life and everything that it means beyond our physical senses. The author gives examples from Abel (Adam’s son) to King David (the author of the Psalms) of many “great faith” moments of the Old Testament. The incredible history lesson is summarized with these statements:
“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again…
Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours. (Hebrews 1132-35a, 39-40 MSG Paraphrase):
Their stories and my story are inseparable. I am undone by the fact that God’s work in history includes millions of people around the world over thousands of years and yet is not complete without me. We are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves! When I see my life in light of this greater perspective, I am inspired to live bigger, with greater passion to do everything God asks me to do. The author tells us how:
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Heb. 12:1-2 MSG Paraphrase)
Wow! That does shoot adrenaline into my soul! It makes me want to get to work encouraging others and telling people how good He is! It makes me want to say, “yes,” when I feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to do something. Faith enables us to keep perspective of our story in the great context of His story, of His grace, of His love and His sacrifice for us. Our gaze is held steady on His face, knowing His gaze was steady on the joy of saving us even as He suffered a torturous crucifixion. We can walk confidently in the truth that this life is just a moment on the journey. We are indeed Heaven-bound, where every one of His promises will be perfectly fulfilled.
It is my desire that every post on this blog would be an extension of Hebrews chapter 11. I hope, as you read the stories here, you will believe that Jesus loved you so much that He died for you. I hope you will allow Him to transform you to become the person He created you to be. I hope that you will be reminded that you are not alone on your journey with Jesus, that you are surrounded by a great community of people who are being built together into a place where God lives. Paul describes it this way in Ephesians 2:19-22 (msg):
That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.
So, welcome home! I can’t wait to hear your story.