Summary: How is your faith today? Can you learn anything from Abraham and Sarah about the power of faith to follow God into the unknown?

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Where is Your Faith Taking You?

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

August 12, 2007

After Noah built the ark, the animals started to board the ship two by two. Pair after pair of animals passed by Noah, heading up the ramp into the ship. Finally a lone hippo waddled up and Noah asked him where his mate was. "I was hoping to meet her on the cruise!" the hippo replied. Now that’s faith.

How’s your faith today? Have you ever thought about it?

I am old enough to remember elevators when they had real live operators in them. You got into them, told the operator which floor you wanted, and were then taken directly to your destination.

You may remember that I have talked about Ken Vance on more than one occasion. He has been a pastor/pilot/missionary in Africa for several decades now. Ken and I were in the same License to Preach class of 1972.

License to Preach School was the first step on the approximately ten year journey to ordination. Anyway, we stayed in a dorm down on the campus of DePauw University in Greencastle. The dorms were three or four stories tall and had elevators. Somehow, Ken discovered how to get on top of the elevator cars and ride them up to the attic.

In the attic, he found the elevator controls and figured out how to work them. If someone got on the elevator on the first floor and pushed the button for the second floor, Ken could send them straight to the third floor. If someone was on the third floor and wanted to go down to the second floor, Ken could send them directly to the first floor. The rest of us gave him the nickname “Otis” after the name of the elevator company.

When I am visiting someone on the seventh floor at Parkview Hospital, I can pretty much guarantee that the elevator will be jam-packed with people, some of whom will get off on every floor. That is why I walk up the steps sometimes. Some of you have had me walk into your rooms out of breath because I’ve taken the stairs, but I can walk them quicker than I can wait for the elevator to stop at every floor.

The News Corp Building in New York City has recently installed what they are calling “destination elevators.” This is my understanding of how they work. Let’s say for example, that you want to go to the seventh floor. Before you get on the elevator, you go to a computer station and type in the number 7. Your request will then be analyzed and will be compared with the traffic demands at that time. The computer also calculates the best route for each elevator car based on where each passenger is going. After this happens in a split second, you are directed to the appropriate elevator which takes you to your desired floor much faster than with old elevators.

The upside for this is that there is a 20-30 percent reduction in the time you spend waiting for or in elevators. But you have to be careful. If you just walk into the building and jump on the first elevator that has its door open, you may not be able to get to where you want to go.

So in a system like this, you have to trust your elevator to get you to the place you intend to go. Faith in God works the same way. You just have to make a choice to get on board and then trust the outcome.

I guess that we have to begin by coming to some sort of a definition of faith. What is faith, anyway? The writer of Hebrews opens up chapter eleven with a definition of faith that is sort of abstract. The New Revised Standard Version contains the traditional language. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” There is something incredibly poetic and comforting in those words.

But I actually like the way THE MESSAGE puts it better. “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living.”

There was a nun who was working at an agency that provided home health care. She was on her way to visit one of her clients one day when she ran out of gas. She walked to the nearest gas station and asked to borrow a can with just enough gas to start her car so she could drive it to the station for a fill up. The attendant said that he was sorry, but he had just loaned out the only gas can he had.

The nun, ever resourceful, went back to her car and retrieved a bed pan. She then walked back to the gas station, filled the bedpan with gas, and carried it back to her car. As she was pouring the contents of the bed pan into her gas tank, two guys walked by. After watching her, one of them said to the other, “Now that is what I call faith.”

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