This post was written in the midst of our world experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. Though it discusses topics specific to this time, its insights and scriptures can be appreciated at any time.
This is the reason that faith is the single source of the promise—so that grace would be offered to all Abraham’s children, those whose lives are defined by the law and those who follow the path of faith charted by Abraham, our common father.
Romans 4:16 Voice
My father was a Marine when I was born and he was a Marine when I left home for college.
There were many perks growing up in the Marine Corps, like the emphasis on service and being a part of something greater than yourself. We were always close to the beach, our neighborhood was very safe, and the bus service on base was free to the swimming pool, theater, and the closest thing we had to a mall – the base exchange.
The tough part was moving every few years and starting over. Again and again, I found myself in an unfamiliar home, school, and neighborhood. I had to make new friends, which meant risking rejection and facing my inadequacies.
My response to constant change was to gravitate toward the familiar, or what is safe, or what I can control. I still spend a lot of human effort trying to control my circumstances, create predictable outcomes, and avoid anything that creates anxiety or insecurity. Left on my own, I would chart a course that never went beyond my comfort zone.
Abraham challenges me to think differently. Choosing to chart his life by faith, Abraham stepped out on a journey that would change his life and the lives of generations that followed.
Does your faith inspire you to live beyond your comfort zone?
Here are a examples of comfort zones that you may relate to:
A small group of friends you’ve had for many years
Experiences you are confident you can handle
Places and people you feel totally secure with
Conversations that avoid controversy or emotions
A time or place where everyone is happy with you
Tasks you know you can accomplish without help or great effort.
Responsibilities that can only make you look good
Comfort zones can be difficult to break out of, but by examining Abraham’s example, we can learn a lot about what kind of faith is necessary to live differently. This Bible study on Abraham’s faith will help you as you begin or strengthen your own spiritual journey.
Pause and reflect
When was the last time your faith put you in a situation where you were uncomfortable?
What are your reactions to being outside your comfort zone?
Do these give you insight into your level of faith.
Living by faith, not control
Faith motivated Abraham to obey God’s call and leave the familiar to discover the territory he was destined to inherit from God. So he left with only a promise and without even knowing ahead of time where he was going, Abraham stepped out in faith.
Hebrews 11:8 TPT
Abraham is known as the father of our faith (Galatians 3:7). Why? Abraham set the course of his life by faith, setting an example for us to follow.
God asked Abraham to go on a journey with him. A journey that would lead him to his destiny, promising Abraham he would make him into a great nation, make his name great, and bless all the peoples on earth through him (Genesis 12:2-3).
Nevertheless, Abraham did not get to know where he was going, what he would experience, how he would get there, how long it would take, or what his life would be like when he arrived. Having nothing but the promise of God, Abraham stepped out on faith.
What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.
Hebrews 11:1 TLB
It’s hard to live by faith. Faith is the certainty of something we don’t yet have. By definition, this assaults my sense of logic.
Instead of charting my course by faith, I’d rather use my human experience, wisdom, and effort to control my life in order to protect me from failure, discomfort, or looking bad.
I spend a lot of mental and emotional effort preparing for everything I could possibly experience. This is why I inevitably overpack when I travel or spend too much mental energy thinking through possible scenarios for events or conversations I need to have. My dominant focus is on control.
“I spend a lot of mental and emotional effort preparing for everything I could possibly experience.”
How do I get control? What things do I need to avoid to maintain it? Unfortunately, the belief that we can control our lives or circumstances is an illusion and a losing proposition that more often leads to anxiety and insecurity – the very thing we are trying to control.
How important is being in control for you? Can you identify ways you take control?
Ask yourself these questions:
Do you avoid conversations with people that have a different view than you?
Do you allow your emotions to shut people down in conversations?
Setting a course of faith can help us learn to allow influence in our life without being afraid. Trusting in God is a decision that will never fail us.
What anxiety and insecurity have taught me is that they don’t promote relationship building. First, it is very difficult to think of others when I’m insecure and anxious – my mind is gripped with self-consumed thoughts.
Secondly, anxiety and insecurity drive unhealthy emotion-driven decision making, and third, anxiety and insecurity make others anxious and insecure, making them want to avoid me.
A life chartered by faith is not controlled by anxiety and insecurity.
Pause and reflect
Are you aware of your own anxiety and insecurity?
Are you able to recognize them before they impact those around you?
Do you make yourself available to God to pray through your anxiety and insecurity?
Are you willing to consider that you have charted the course of your life on something other than faith?
He lived by faith as an immigrant in his promised land as though it belonged to someone else. He journeyed through the land living in tents with Isaac and Jacob who were persuaded that they were also co-heirs of the same promise.  His eyes of faith were set on the city with unshakable foundations, whose architect and builder is God himself.
Hebrews 11:9-10 TPT
“Life is a journey, not a destination” is a quote often credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson but one that illustrates an important part of Abraham’s life. He journeyed many years on his way to his inheritance. Although God was capable of fulfilling his destiny at any location, God allowed Abraham to journey. Why?
It was during the journey that Abraham forged his relationship with God, guaranteeing that Abraham would have the heart, character, and spirituality to appreciate and hold on to his inheritance.
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?
Amos 3:3 NIV
The “journey” is the avenue in which we discover and work out our differences with God. It’s the time we become aware of the convictions we need to develop. It will expose any lack of trust and help us clarify any wrong view of God.
These are important experiences for developing a healthy relationship with God. Our relationship with God keeps us going while we wait for God to reveal our destiny and to appreciate our destiny when God reveals it.
Pause and reflect
Are there Biblical convictions that you struggle to embrace?
Write them down and make a decision to work them out (Bible study and prayer) with God.
Here are a few I have had to wrestle with to embrace:
The heart is not capable of knowing how it’s doing completely. We need help, conversations, and feedback (Hebrews 3:12-14 NIV)
Focus on the promises
He never stopped believing God’s promise, for he was made strong in his faith to father a child. And because he was mighty in faith and convinced that God had all the power needed to fulfill his promises, Abraham glorified God!
Romans 4:20-21 TPT
We are living in extraordinary times. The future has never looked so uncertain. The job market has never looked so fragile, the political climate has never been more divided and our calendar has never felt so unpredictable.
Abraham experienced many of these same challenges on his journey. What we can learn from Abraham is that his focus was on God’s power to fulfill his promises and not on the circumstances he was facing. Abraham knew that God was willing and able to keep every promise he made to Abraham.
What are some of God’s promises we need to hold on to? Here are a few that I’ve needed to hold on to:
Isaiah 40:29 NIV – He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Isaiah 43:2 NIV – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Mark 11:24 NIV – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Philippians 4:6-7 NIV – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
James 4:7 NIV – Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Tip: Make your own list and pray through them.
What can we learn from the life of Abraham? He charted his course by faith. At the end of his life, it was clear that he had made the right choice.
Then Abraham breathed his last and he died at a good old age, an old man who was satisfied [with life]; and he was gathered to his people [who had preceded him in death].