Updated: Aug 1
If you asked 10 different people to share their definition of home, you might receive 10 different answers. We know that many understand home as their dwelling place, their sanctuary. Some believe home is where the heart is, where family is. Home can be understood as spaces where people feel safe, valued, and welcome. As an itinerant minister, the concept of home takes on a different meaning for me. As I was preparing this message for today, I was surrounded by moving boxes, preparing for a move from my home of 9 years, Memphis, to Nashville. While I understand home as my sanctuary and safe space, I also see home as a place that God leads me to. As we journey with God through life, there are times when God may call us to pack up and go and we can be rest assured that wherever God leads us, we can make a home there.
However, this is no easy task and requires deep faith in God’s guidance.
How do you understand faith? I believe faith is about our will to trust God more than we seek to trust ourselves. This faith that the preacher is talking about in Hebrews begins with our desire to seek God for solutions first. Often, we try to figure things out without God’s help. Often, we try to achieve what we believe is God’s will without God’s help. When we do this, we’re liable to end up in places God never intended us to be.
You see sometimes we can be in tune with what God wants for us and still end up in the wrong place. Maybe God did place on your heart that a blessing is coming soon-but what you think is the blessing may not be what God had in mind. Abraham’s story is a testament to this. So, we have to be careful about not getting ahead of God. Faith requires patience, stillness, perhaps a season of waiting on the Lord to manifest what he’s allowed you to see. With the physical eye, we might see that our plan didn’t come together as well as we had hoped but with the spiritual eye, we see a better plan, the best plan, the plan that God had intended for us in the first place.
A few years ago, I took a trip with a friend of mine for the first time. We traveled from Memphis to Nashville to see the great Jazz musician, Wynton Marsalis perform. On the way back home, we talked about how much fun we were having. You know, there’s nothing like having a good travel partner. What kind of traveler are you? Some travelers like to plan out their trip with an itinerary, while others are intentional about not planning out how they're going to spend their time.
And of course, there are others who have a plan, maybe an idea about where they want to go and how they want to spend their time, but they’re not too rigid about their plans because they know that plans can fall apart quickly, especially when traveling. Some say the best travel partners are those who are flexible and down for the adventure. Some say the best travel partners are those who do their best to overcome unforeseen challenges that may occur in order to enjoy the experience.
The journey of faith calls us to learn how to travel well with God. As God’s children, faith is so important because we’re always going to be on the move and we won’t always know when it’s time to move again. Some of us might think that it would be so awesome if God could drop us an itinerary so we’d have some sort of idea about where we’re headed. But Isaiah 55 reminds us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and God’s ways are not our ways. I imagine if God tried to humor us by giving us a clearer picture regarding our personal journeys, that would only lead to more questions and maybe even some confusion.
What’s so beautiful about faith is that we serve a God who will simply guide us if we would open our ears, hearts, minds, and feet to God’s direction.
Jesus is “the pioneer and perfector of our faith,” the one who traveled obediently down through God’s purposes of salvation. Jesus left his heavenly home announcing, “that he will proclaim God’s name to his sisters and brothers.” He traveled as a stranger and a pilgrim through the wilderness of suffering remaining faithful until his purpose was fulfilled.
Long before Jesus, Abraham and his wife Sarah were pioneer travelers. The Word tells us that Abraham was “called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance” (11:8). Abraham was being sent on a journey of faith, and we can see here in Hebrews many of the qualities of all faith journeys. The journey required a deep trust in the One who was sending him. Abraham obeyed, placing his hand in God’s hand, even though he did not even know where he was headed.
He couldn’t see the land, he didn’t know how to get to the land, but he believed it was out there because God promised it to him.
Sometimes you can’t see how situations are going to unfold for you, maybe you can’t even see how overcoming a situation is possible-but if you believe God-if you believe the God who said, "come and follow me and I will give you rest" If you believe the God who said, "for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a future with hope." If you believe the God of Psalm 23, our Shepherd, who makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us down still waters, leading us in right paths for his name’s sake. If you believe in the promises of God, you can make peace with what you can’t physically see and rest in the assurance of things hoped for. When you believe in God’s power and presence in your life, you let God be your leader and fulfill his will for your life.
Because what God wants for us is so much better than what we could have imagined for ourselves. And because the places God wants to lead us to are so much better than the places we could have taken ourselves.
Sometimes, living by faith in this world can feel like we’re walking through a fog. If this is you right now, if things seem a bit foggy for you right now, please understand that your feelings are valid and you can go to God about the things that cause you to feel uncertain. You’re free to approach God about all the things that concern you. God gives us room to do so.
You are free to admit the reality of your situation if you’re: struggling with sorrow about unanswered prayers; confused about something you’d like to believe but have doubts; discouraged by shame you feel because of your mistakes; exhausted from trying to reach a goal that keeps eluding you.
Whatever we are feeling, whatever we are going through, we can take it to God. If we’re walking through a dark, foggy valley- we don’t have to pretend that we aren’t because God sees and God knows. But most importantly, God understands. God understands because he’s been walking right alongside us this whole time.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith-the ability to see what can’t physically be seen-is a gift to us from God. Because when the storms rage, when we find ourselves in the fog, it is the gift of faith that helps us endure. It is the gift of faith that helps us reach our promised destinations if we but learn how to travel a little better and keep God ahead of us and not behind us.
Let us rejoice and give thanks that we’ve come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord, trusting in his holy word. He’s never failed us yet. The hymn says, "where God leads me I will follow, I’ll go with God all the way."
Thanks be to God.