I was reading Hebrews 11 a couple weeks ago when a thought struck me. The context of Hebrews 11 is all about faith. It starts by saying, "Faith is the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see." (Hebrews 11:1) The passage continues to talk about how apart from faith, there is no way to please the Lord, and goes through famous characters in the Bible and says that it was by faith that they did what they did.
This was not my first time to read this passage, but when I have read it before I was merely encouraged by the strong faith of all these leaders and thought, "good for them." But this time through, a new thought hit me.
What would be my "it was by faith" story?
If someone was writing about my life in 100 years, what would they look back and see? Would they see someone who had lived a mediocre life, went to church on Sunday, did her quiet time daily and lived an average life, or would they see someone who risked it all for the mission of Christ, who lived radically unashamed of the gospel, and who by faith moved mountains?
I was convicted when I read this passage because so often the life I live is the first option. I live the life of comfort. I live the life of reading about people's faith in the Bible and admiring them but thinking I have not been called to the same things because I could not do the same things and I am not in the same time.
But, the other part about this passage that hit me for the first time today was the last two verses. "All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us" (verse 39).
Without us. Us. You and me.
For the first time, I realized that this passage doesn't end with talking about the great heroes of the faith that we can look back on and admire, but it ends with a call to us. All of those heroes have died, and they didn't get to see the end result of their suffering and persecution. But that didn't stop them, because they were not earth focused. They were Heaven focused. They knew that any hardship on earth would pale in comparison to the glory of Heaven. And when they died, they passed the torch onto us. They need us.
It is us who must continue living the faith. We too might not see to fruition all of God's promises, but we must continue having faith and acting by our faith, so the ones after us have heroes of the faith to look to as well. We are called to action.
And it is not little acts of faith, as verse 33 says "By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouth of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength."
Jeremy Camp has a song called "Same Power," and the chorus goes like this: "the same power that rose Jesus from the grave/ the same power that commanded death to wake/ lives in us, lives in us/ the same power that moves mountains when he speaks/ the same power that can calm a raging sea/ lives in us, lives in us/ he lives in us, lives in us". What if we truly understood these words? What if we had full confidence that we could do miracles, that we could change the world with just a little faith? What if we really believed that the same power alive in Jesus is alive in us?
I don't want the edge of my faith to be this tiny bubble I live in. I don't want my faith to be described as "it was by faith that she went to church and volunteered for a few activities." I want a faith that shuts the mouths of lions, a faith that moves mountains, and a faith that truly believes that to live is Christ and to die is gain.
What if we all stopped reading about others with an unshakeable faith and went out and acted? What if we "placed our hope in a better life after the resurrection" (verse 35)? What if we all began our "It was by faith" stories today?