CLEF Newsletter - October 2016

“The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 7:24-26).

Scripture also states that faith, a decision of trust in and of itself, is “the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). In line with that is what we do not yet see. Such faith is rooted and grounded in the legacy of triumphs by men of old who looked to God for the grace, strength, and providence to strive toward, ascertain, and realize a humanly improbable or even relatively impossible aspiration or objective. These “heroes of the faith” believed that what God had promised, He was able also to accomplish, and as such God was pleased to do so. In fact, this same passage states that “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (v.6). So it is that our faith, when allied with the One Who accomplishes all things for us in the lovingkindness, justice and righteousness of His ordered will, is an extraordinary means of attaining an extraordinary end, need, or desire. Working in conjunction with what honors God and what further reflects His Light into this world yields His peace and rest, and the security, satisfaction and significance we’re all wired to strive for. Faith in our Creator Who called us into being and draws us into His service clarifies our own calling, meaning, and purpose in life, and serves to further generate even more confidence in the hope that lies within us and the assurance of our convictions and greatest expectations, no matter what our visual or apparent circumstances may be. The bleaker it may seem, the greater is our calling to trust, follow through, hold onto hope, and cling to our faith in the One Who will not leave us disappointed. By stepping out of our comfort zone to stand in the “not yet seeing” gap between faith and being, we call into being a reality that evidences to us that indeed, we are not alone, that our righteous passion for justice and truth can and will be fulfilled, and that our lives as a conduit for such restorative means makes life worth pursuing.

But why does it work this way? Wherein is the need for us to be pressed and stressed and thereby compelled into taking that “leap of faith” which propels us out of our mundane routine into all the risks and provocation of applying our time, resources, and fragile heart into a striving that the world around us (and the scared voice in our head) says will be our losing? It is for the gripping, captivating, and absorbing notion that God is there.

The Biblical history of ancient civilization, in particular with the nation of Israel and how it began and carried on, is largely corroborated by secular history and only increases as more discovery is made. Earlier still, the Garden, the Flood, Babylon, even the intercontinental drift, is there in various elements as well. But the primary focus of Scripture is on how God delivers those who trust in Him. And that delivery has always manifested itself in unusual and astonishing calls to venture forth into something often without precedent… and wholly foreign to the thinking and expectations of the one being called. These calls were not birthed out of wild imagination. You can’t make such things up. Building a titanic ark to preserve a family and large cast of animals from a world-wide flood; leaving one’s homeland to start a new nation of people which, in your long lifetime, you will only see one of, from a wife who is barren (!); being told to sacrifice that long awaited child on an altar (but only to see if you’d really obey…!); placing your baby in another kind of ark, a basket, and setting him adrift in the Nile in order to save his life (!); approaching a dictator of the strongest civilization on earth to demand he free all his slaves under threat of destruction; leading six plus million people for forty years in a barren wilderness; and on it goes. People back then did not have the free-wheeling, ludicrous thought processes we see too much of today. It was daily survival, which makes such callings even more astonishingly incoherent, but in my mind, patently real. And such is what grounds me in the core of what faith, hope and love will not fail to endeavor and complete.

What we hear at the end of a memorial, a service, message of comfort or wedding is not a platitude of human goodwill. This is a blessing commanded by God to be given to His people to remind them of His goodwill and presence among them. It carried the power of His promises and purpose in their lives, that as they continued to believe and trust in Him as the source of their strength and provision, then their security, satisfaction, and significance would not wane. He was faithful to that promise. They were tried, refined as silver, brought into a net, given oppressive burdens and attacked from without, even taken through fire and flood; yet He brought them out into a place of abundance. He never turned away their honest prayer or His lovingkindness from them. This is the power of that blessing. We are invited to know His grace and peace for our often rocky road designed to validate our life. He’s not just there… He is a God Who cares.

“So shall they invoke my Name… and I will bless them” (v. 27)