There is something amazing about the power of Scripture.
Some days I read it and there isn’t anything that particularly jumps out at me, but there’s a solidness and comfort in simple saturation of God’s inspired Words.
Other days there are things that are so clear and meaningful it’s as though they were divinely highlighted.
For awhile now I have been intrigued and inspired by Hebrews 11 and its list of saints who were unflinching in their faith.
The ones who did the right thing even when it was hard. Who obeyed God in the face of ultimate grief. Who trusted God even when it didn’t seem that He was doing anything. Who were martyred and considered it a glorious privilege.
This is the kind of faith that I want. It’s the kind of faith that makes anything possible and everything able to be borne.
Persistent, determined faith.
I’ve read Hebrews 11:6 before. But this past week when reading these words again, I was impressed with something I hadn’t ever noticed.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 KJV
In the past I have read this and kind of got stuck in my own musings of how small my faith is, and how I’m probably barely, if at all, pleasing God because of that fact.
But this time something new was there for me.
First, in order to have a faith that pleases God there are two things this Scripture details as requirement; they have to do with His existence and His character.
1.) So first, we must believe He exists.
This isn’t that hard for me. Oh, I have had times of really wondering where God is in the midst of hardship. Or why He isn’t doing anything. But as a general rule I acknowledge that there is a God.
2.) The character part. We must believe that this God is the kind of God who rewards those who diligently seek Him.
This is what stopped me in my tracks.
Our God is a Rewarder-God. And not only is He so, we must believe Him to be this kind of God. As in, we can’t please God if our faith doesn’t accept Him as a God who loves to reward us for seeking His face and His heart.
This, I believe was the faith of Noah, the faith of Abraham, the faith of Sarah, the faith of the martyrs. They looked up to the heavens with knowing smiles and acknowledged that, “Yes. There is a God. An unseen, enthroned King. A Maker. An Authority that is unequaled in power and glory, deserving all our worship and praise.” There. Is. A. God.
And then, a much more personal and heart-expanding truth: this God rewards.
He loves His children immensely. And those who choose diligent seeking, who choose to follow after Him with all their heart, who repent when they mess up… And those who refuse to worship their experience over His promises, these are the ones who please God with faith. They will experience unimaginable rewards. Both here on earth as well as in heaven. And I’m not talking necessarily about rewards you can touch or see (though that’s certainly within the realm of possibility), but rewards from the Spirit in this life that make our hard things possible to be viewed as a privilege. And rewards in heaven (you know, the kind that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, what the Father has in store.).
This is Martyr Faith.
This is a faith that takes people through prisons, through disease, through fire and persecution.
This is the faith that propelled Abraham up a mountain on a God-ordained mission to kill the son he had waited decades to hold in his arms.
The Son of promise. The one who was the link to sons and grandsons and great-grandsons who would number greater than the stars.
But Abraham knew God was real. And He believed that God rewards those who seek Him. So he sought. He obeyed. He believed in this God so much that He was willing to obey what seemed like a senseless and horrible request.
How else would you do what Abraham did unless you truly believed that your God was capable of anything?
And sure enough, God proved Himself faithful.
These two truths must be settled in our heart. We must choose them over and over.
Believing God is real.
Believing what kind of God He is. That His rewards are deep. Better than we can imagine. They are for us, here and now- the reward of patience in impossibility. The reward of being able to love instead of reject. The reward of His character and mind thriving inside these flesh-temples. They are Loving. Perfect. Beautiful. We have no concept of the pleasure He takes in us. And we can’t begin to imagine the ecstasy that will envelop us as we stand, perhaps shoulder to shoulder with martyrs and the ancient Faith Heroes, and hear His words ring out across heaven’s majesty:
“Well done. Well done, thou good and faithful servant. ….enter into the joy of your Lord.”
The joy of your Lord.
What an amazing privilege.