I am currently reading a book and one of the topics focused on Abraham and how God prepared him for his role. According to this book, Abraham's life is a very good example on how God chooses ordinary people to become mighty spiritual leaders.
Here are the things I’ve learned:
Abraham was an ordinary guy: Abe was born in Ur, and lived among moon-worshipping people. His life's agenda would have been so uncomplicated: live out his days raising his cattle and sheep. Since he had no kids, his life is not complicated by parenthood. God's plan for him was for him to become the father of a Holy nation from whose line of descendants will come the Messiah!
Abraham grew through failure: Let me see, Abe disobeyed God a number of times by adding to what God has commanded him, making the command his will and not God's will. Even the greatest of leaders have some experiences of failure under their belt.
Abraham built spiritual landmarks: Every time Abe had a breakthrough in his relationship with God, he built an altar. These altars were testimonies of how he has grown in his relationship and trust towards God. For succeeding generations, these same landmarks encouraged people. For modern times, this can be the equivalent of spiritual journals. Journals serve to purposes: to remind and to encourage.
Abraham experienced God's redemption: In the bible, God seldom steps in when people are about to make mistakes. But God always redeems and Abe was no exception. God did not prevent him from lying about his wife, but God did not allow the pharaoh to hurt him when the lie was exposed.
Yep, me too. Did a lot of mistakes in my life. If God prevented me from making those mistakes, I wouldn't have a deeper understanding of God. Those mistakes I made allowed me to trust God more.
Abraham learned thru experience: Abe didn't learn everything about God thru the scrolls. He learned thru encounters with God. In the recent years, I have encountered God countless of times. Through these encounters, I came to trust that God would be my shield, my shelter, my strong tower, my deliverer, my strength, my provider, my very present help in time of need, my anchor and most importantly my Abba. I would never trade any of these experiences, no matter how very painful they were, for a superficial knowledge about Him.
Abraham was not allowed to take shortcuts: Although God promised a child to Abe, he remained childless and on the tenth year, he agreed to Sarah's plans to have a child thru her servant. Although this was acceptable in their time, God's ways is not man's ways. So the child Ishmael would become the father of the Arab nations, the fiercest enemies of the Israelites, Isaac's descendants.
Shortcuts. I guess living at a time when people are so into 'instant this and that' and 'ten steps to a better this and that', being patient is one of the most difficult things to be. God's timing is not my timing. I rely on these words, "Sometimes the time it takes for God's promise to be realized can seem eternally long, but a promise fulfilled by God is always worth the wait." Looking at the lives of other men in the bible, many have waited for a long time but God always proved Himself absolutely true to His word!
Abraham demonstrated his faith: After twenty-five years of waiting, God asks Abe to sacrifice Isaac. (Note: In Abe's time and place, people often sacrificed their first-born to their idols. God's command would prove whether Abe was as committed to God as the fanatics around him were committed to their pagan idols.) If Abe would become the father to a holy nation, he would need to have a faith stronger than ordinary men. If he were to do extraordinary things, he must have an extraordinary relationship with God.
Looking back at my life, I have prayed for a lot of things. And almost always, when I was enjoying the answers to my prayers, God asks me to give it up to Him! I would really like to say that I gave them up immediately, but I didn't. I held back and choked those gifts until they died. It took a while until I began to trust God with the gifts that came from Him in the first place.
Abraham obeyed God: In response to Abe's obedience, God spared Isaac's life. In the scripture it says,
It is through obedience that we experience God working through our lives. Sometimes I would say to myself, "If only I knew what God wants from me…" As I grew in my relationship with God, He has revealed what He has for me. Most of the time, I am afraid or unwilling to obey.
- Abraham became a friend of God: So what happened to Abe? He became a godly man, the father of a holy nation, father of the faithful. And more importantly Abe became a friend of God. Although he made many mistakes, God chose him because he had a heart that is open to God! God transformed him through his obedience.
I remembered one day when I prayed, "God, I want my heart back." God gave me back my heart. Of course there were times I didn't want it back. Having a heart that is fully alive hurts. God is very patient with me, asking from me small things first. Five minutes a day, lunch with Him every Sunday, heart to heart talk every Monday evening,… Then later, giving up my addictions, giving up my idols, giving up religion, … Until finally asking me to give up my heart, the heart that I had prayed for, cried over for, fought for.
I could not believe how much my heart was valuable to Him! When I gave it back to Him, He gave it back to me, along with grace-healed eyes, spiritual gifts, joy overflowing in the midst of adversity, faith, hope and love.
Lessons from the lives of people in the Bible remain relevant until today. I hope this encourages you to take a look again at your favourite Bible character. You may be surprised that you have many things in common!