Sunday, August 07, 2005

Faith and Sight

An internal struggle between experience and emotions threatens to hinder my plans each time I plan a meal. Instead of listening to 35 years of culinary experience, I let my emotions drown any sensible approach to determining how much food to buy.

As a cook, I have this innate fear that I'll run out of food. I feel that if I don't purchase enough food to feed one and a half times the group, I'll suffer embarrassment. The emotional side of the struggle wins because I subdue three decades of experience that's taught me to food to buy the right ammount of food.

Consequently, I've trained myself to fall back on my knowledge. I've learned over the years how much food it takes to feed a particular group. I can only successfully feed a group and remain within the budget when I put my culinary knowledge and experience to work. That means that I have to block that relentless urge to over-purchase food.

My internal struggle with food quantities is much like the battle between faith and sight. Scripture teaches tells us that God always instructed His people to listen to Him through faith. Faith in God is a quality that says I believe His word. It says that I will pattern my life after His will. It says that I will set my emotions and worldly wisdom aside in favor if God's wisdom.

The word becomes the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). The man of God internalizes His truth. Even though I didn't witness the death, burial and resurrection of God's Son, faith becomes the evidence I need to believe. My faith tells me that Jesus died on the cross to redeem man from his sins. Pleasing faith acknowledges God's existence and trusts Him in all aspects of life (Hebrews 11:6).

Paul said: "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). To live by sight is to trust worldly pursuits. When we pursue sight, we depend on our emotions. I'm not really talking about emotions like sadness or happiness; fear or comfort; pain or pleasure. Instead it's the emotions or feelings that lead us to ignore God.

Abraham was a man who trusted God throughout his long life on earth. After he departed Ur of the Caldeans and arrived in Canaan, God said to him, "To your descendents I will give this land" (Genesis 12:7; 13:15). Abraham and Sarah were childless when God promised that his descendents would possess Canaan. Abraham believed God when He told him that a heir would come from his own body (Genesis 15:6).

Yet sometime later, you get the sense that Abraham's faith wasn't fully developed yet. He wavered and fell back on that human tendency to rely on our own sense of how to fulfill God's promises. Childless, Sarah reasoned that God had restrained her from having children. Her solution was to propose that Abraham have a child with Hagar, her Egyptian slave (Genesis 16:1-16). Abraham complied and Ishmael was born to Hagar and Abraham.

Abraham and Sarah were walking by sight at that point in their lives. Like us, when we hesitate and seek our own paths, they sought to fulfill God's promise by their own design. Instead, a faithful God fulfilled His promise to Abraham later when Sarah was "past the age" (Hebrews 11:11). By patiently waiting for God, Abraham and Sarah were blessed with a son Isaac. It was through Isaac that Abraham's descendents would be called, not Ishmael (Genesis 21:12).

My food purchasing experiences pale in comparison to the lesson of Abraham. Throughout his life Abraham proved that he was a man of faith. When instructed by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac, Abraham concluded that God would be able to raise Isaac from the dead so that God's promises would be fulfilled (Hebrews 11:17-19). We need to follow Abraham's example and trust God.

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