This post is by Kevin Pesek, a Campus Ministry Intern at St. Mary's. He and the other interns are guest blogging for us during Lent.
I was reading a spiritual tract yesterday on the divine virtue of faith recommended by my spiritual director. And, no surprise, it eventually turned to Abraham as our "Father in Faith."
We all know the story from Genesis 15. Abraham (Abram at this point) has been called from his home in Ur by God and has moved to Canaan. God promised to make of Abraham "a great nation." Some time passes, and Abraham, not getting any younger, is still waiting on the fulfillment of God's promise in the form of a child. He questions God about this, and God leads him outside of his tent and tells him, "'Look towards heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them...So shall your descendants be.' And Abraham believed the Lord."
We use this story all the time as one example of Abraham's faith. He sees all the stars in the sky and trusts that God will make his descendants as numerous (over 2 billion Christians in the world today). But something in the story is often overlooked and unnoticed and really made me think. It was not dark when God showed Abraham the sky! (In Gen 15:12, we are told the sun sets). Abraham just saw a blue sky and the sun in the middle of the day. It was not possible for him to see, much less count, any stars.
Abraham knew the stars were there, but God was the only one who could see them. Likewise, Abraham could not see his future descendants, but God could. And that is what Abraham placed his faith in. It was not in something he could see; it was in something he could not see. It really makes sense if you think about it. Faith is "the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1). And as our "Father in Faith," Abraham exemplifies this conviction in his life.
I think we are often left looking for the "stars." We still look for signs or confirmation that God will be faithful to what he has promised and revealed to us, that he has not forgotten us. Abraham's faith was formed by his humility. He recognized that as a lowly human being, he was incapable of seeing the fruits of God's plan for him. But through his faith, he was able to have "the assurance of things hoped for," which is much more valuable than simply seeing. Let us pray to have the faith of Abraham and to trust in God's plan for us, even if we cannot see the stars.
Tip o' the Hat to the book Boys to Men: The Transforming Power of Virtue by Tim Gray and Curtis Martin