What is faith? Faith is the substance of things hoped for, as indicated in Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-19. Substance is the ground beneath you. The faith of Abraham who “set out, not knowing where he was going” (v. 8) secured the promise. Later, he risked that promise when he was ready to offer up his son Isaac.

When you have things right, you know you’re ready. Don’t be anxious. You’re ready! I spoke these words to a group of football players as they were getting ready to play their first game of the season. We had been practicing on our plays and preparing for our big game. From the beginning of the season, we had been trying to replace the fear of the unknown with confidence and being ready. Waiting before the game starts can be hard on the players. Something like that goes on in all of life. “Don’t be frantic” is the first teaching of these massagers of Christ. The second is “Don’t be complacent, lazy and indifferent. Don’t put off doing what needs to be done.”

Faith involves going where we can’t yet see. Abraham’s faith adventure began with open-ended travel plans. Sometimes God leads us to begin a journey before we know where or how it will end. Faith is being willing to follow God’s direction wherever it leads, even if we don’t know where that will be during our journey in life.

Have you ever walked through the woods at night with just a flashlight? No moonlight, just the single beam shining ahead of you. You can see only as far as the light shines, but no farther. Yet you keep walking, knowing that as you proceed the light will continue to move ahead of you revealing a little more of the path ahead with each step you take.

That is part of the adventure of faith, trusting God to lead you to the best possible future, even though you don’t yet know what that may be. Faith involves going where we can’t yet see.

Faith involves living when we aren’t yet home in heaven. Abraham’s faith journey didn’t lead directly from point A to point B; he had detoured along the way. Yet it was during these intermediate places, like Egypt, that God was able to teach Abraham some of the most valuable lessons he would ever learn. As we move forward on our faith adventure, there may well be detours along the way; sometimes they may be brief, while at other times one may seem so long and frustrating that we begin to wonder if our journey has ended. The key is to keep our eyes to God and his will for our lives, understanding that sometimes we will spend time in places that aren’t our ultimate home. Use those detours as times of learning, allowing God to teach the lessons that will help us along the remainder of our faith adventure.

Faith involves accepting what we don’t yet have. Can you imagine how Abraham and Sarah must have wondered about God’s promise that they would produce a mighty nation when for decades they had not been blessed with even their first child? Nevertheless, Abraham clung to his faith that God, who had led him through so many challenges, would yet find a way to accomplish that promise. He accepted God’s promise even though he didn’t yet have it, and it seemed impossible.

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J.B. Morris leads the St. Andrews United Methodist Church.