There it was. That little black line on the map leading to a remote hot spring in Grenada. And where there’s a black line on the map, there must be a road.
When the entrance to the road was where it was indicated on the map, we took courage. We pointed the nose of our car in the right direction and started to drive. As is so often the case in Grenada, however, the paved road soon dwindled to a good-sized, and good quality, dirt road. From there it narrowed, and it wasn’t long before we were dodging potholes big enough to swallow our tiny rental car. Soon the road was so narrow that we couldn’t dodge potholes anymore. Besides, long grass clogged the way, and we were often on nothing more than a narrow shelf in a cliff. At one point, I was sure that if the road didn’t improve, it wouldn’t be safe to travel it any further, and we got out and walked a bit. To our delight, the road improved slightly around the next bend, and we again started out, creeping our way, hugging the cliff, praying we wouldn’t meet anyone coming from the other direction.
Another time, we had heard tell of a beautiful trail in the mountains of Montana. We set out, and as is often the case in Montana, the pavement ended, and then the dirt road narrowed and became full of pot holes, steep and slippery climbs and sharp curves. At one point, we encountered someone coming down the road. Naturally there was no place for them to pass without one of us going over the cliff, and I had to back down a good section of that road to a place where the other car could safely pass.
Another time, while seeking a reportedly beautiful beach in Grenada, the road dwindled down to a foot path and we had to abandon the car and continue on foot.
I could go on, but I believe you get the picture. We are obviously gluttons for! And you’re right! Each time, however, we kept our sights on the reward at the end of the road. We found that hot spring. It was quaint and beautiful. We found that beautiful trail. It offered fantastic views. We found the beautiful beach, lined by white sand amidst palm and almond trees, located in a picturesque cove of calm, crystal clear water.
These examples all remind me of a few verses in Hebrews 11. Up until this point, Hebrews 11 has been show casing people who took stands in faith and found their reward, but in the second half of verse 35, just after hearing how some women, because of their faith, received their loved ones back from the dead, we see a drastic turn of events: “But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free….Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11:35b-38 NLT)
Wait. I thought that taking steps out in faith always resulted in good things, didn’t you? But I don’t see much good in this! No, I’m ashamed to admit I am not drawn to being tortured, jeered at, chained up in prison, stoned, sawed in half or being killed with the sword. I usually steer clear of situations where my back will be cut open with whips or where I am otherwise oppressed and mistreated! And I’m afraid I like my cushy little house rather than hiding in caves and holes in the ground!
So what it is that made these heroes of faith go on?
The answer to this question is summed up in the last part of verse 35: “They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection”!
You see, just like I kept my sights on the beautiful things I would see at the end of those terrible roads, these people kept their sights on Heaven.
Here’s the key question: Do I have the kind of faith it would take to have to go through all of that, knowing that my reward might not even be on this world?
Suddenly putting my perseverance to find those beautiful places because I put my faith in a paper map and a few words of recommendation seems pretty trite! But perhaps herein lies the key: My prize was a beautiful place to visit on this Earth. Their prize wasn’t even in this world at all: They were looking towards “a better life after resurrection”! (Heb. 11:35c NLT)
That is what faith looks like, friends. That’s the kind of faith that earns a place in the book of Hebrews: Faith in God that no matter what, there is a better life after resurrection!
Is that enough for me? Would I risk being sawed in half for that?
If the answer to that question is “no”, then perhaps I need to spend some serious time examining my reason for being a Christian. I need to re-evaluate my priorities in life, I need to examine where my treasure lies! If it lies in things of this earth that will rot and decay (see Matt. 6:19), then I can never be included in a list of those who have faith. But if my treasure lies in Kingdom things, then the answer is clear: Yes, I would risk my life for the sake of my Lord!
So what is the secret to having this kind of faith?
Knowing His Word, claiming His promises, keeping our eyes fixed on Him, and perhaps most importantly, laying up the right kind of treasure…Treasure in Heaven!
In His love,
(To access the entire “A New Perspective on Faith” devotional series, please click here.)