Hebrews Chapter 11 is one of my favorite chapters of the Bible. It talks about the Old Testament heroes of the faith, of Abel and Enoch and Noah, of. Of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Of Joseph and Rahab and many others. It talks about the bold steps each of them took because they trusted God and believed what they could not yet see. And, what's more, sometimes they believed what they never would see.
13 All these people 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.
I don't know about you, but that's sometimes hard for me to comprehend. These people lived by their faith. They have stood for thousands of years as our shining examples, our faith heroes, and yet they did not receive the things God Himself had promised them? How could that be? Did they do something wrong?
And yet, looking a little further, we see that the whole thing is merely a matter of perspective. They saw these things not in view of the tiny glimmer that was their mortal lives, but from God's perspective and in the light of eternity.
14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
I've been on a bit of a C. S. Lewis/Chronicles of Narnia tear the last little while, so it's easy for me to be reminded of one of his characters when I consider these particular heroes. If you have read Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader or The Last Battle, you are no doubt familiar with Reepicheep, the valiant, noble and sometimes ridiculously brave little mouse. (I always laugh when I read the part where they encounter a fire-breathing dragon, and Caspian has to tell Reepicheep very sternly indeed, ". . . you are not going to attempt a single combat with it.")
More than anything, tiny Reepicheep wants to go into Aslan's country (the Narnian equivalent of heaven). Ever since he was a mouseling, he has longed for it more than any honor or adventure he can find in his own world, even though it's abundantly clear that honor and adventure are of utmost importance to him. And, when he is at last given the opportunity to go to Aslan's country, he happily flings away his sword, knowing he has no more need of it, and sails away, like Enoch being taken away so that he never experienced death.
As flawed as the recent Dawn Treader movie is, especially in telling the spiritual parts of Lewis's tale, one thing they got absolutely right was the look on Reepicheep's face as he leans eagerly forward in his little coracle, catching the wave that takes him forever out of sight. In spite of my best efforts, that moment always brings tears to my eyes. It perfectly captures that longing in my heart, too.
I can understand his eagerness for that better country where everything makes sense and faith becomes sight. There are many things that I have believed for and felt very clearly that God has promised me, but I haven't seen some of them. I don't know if I will see them before I die. But I know that His promises are true, and they will come to pass in His time and in His way.
All I need to do is trust in Him and live in a way that He is not ashamed to be called my God.
Are there things you're believing for that you haven't yet seen?
Who are your faith heroes?