GPS has changed the way we navigate. The destination is all we think we need to know. The GPS will do the rest. But our God is not a heavenly GPS that simply leads us to the destination. Each twist and turn of the journey is significant, and what we travel through is just as significant as where we end up. In Hebrews 11, the famous faith chapter, we hear that Abraham “went out, not knowing where he was going.” This is the essence of faith — acting when we don’t know the result of those actions. I’ve been listening to a series of lectures on the Reformation in general and Luther in particular by Dr. Carl Trueman here. I highly recommend it — fascinating. A smaller point stuck out to me as I listened today. In talking about Luther’s theology at an early point in his recovery of the doctrine of justification by faith, Dr. Trueman points out that, of course, Luther did not grasp at that point in time just where this theological journey would take him. Luther was setting out like Abraham, not knowing where he was going, but knowing that God was leading him inexorably.
It’s like that sometimes. We’re not all Abrahams or Luthers, who are the father of a nation or start a Reformation with ramifications that extend to future generations, but we all find ourselves nudged in certain directions. It’s how we respond to those nudges that is the test of our faith. Do we follow even when we don’t know the destination? Or do we try to conjecture where this will lead and what results it will yield — and then decide if we’ll follow through? God is looking for those who can take one bit at a time and act on it in faith. This may seem like God favors those with a high risk-tolerance — of which I am definitely not one — but think about that. What is riskier than NOT following God when He points us in a direction? Those who walked by faith before us were seeking a goal, but a goal they could not begin to comprehend — and so are we.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)