There’s a story about Abraham that I only discovered as an adult that I want to share with you.
In Genesis the 14th chapter, the king of Sodom was at war with neighboring kingdoms and during one of the battles, Abraham’s nephew was taken captive.
Word gets back to Abraham, and he arms 318 of his trained servants and rescues his nephew earning favor with the king of Sodom.
As a reward, the king of Sodom offers Abram to keep the goods he recovered while rescuing his nephew and Abram's response is no. Abram has decided that he won't take anything from the king, because all of his wealth and possessions have come as a result of God's favor and he won't allow the king to be able to claim any of that for himself.
(If you are unfamiliar with the character of Abraham (Abram), he is considered one of the father's of our faith, Judaism and Islam - so much so that the three can often be grouped together has the "Abrahamic Religions". You can read of Abraham's life in Genesis from chapters 12-25 for more context.)
This particular story has been resonating with me because it is an illustration of prepared faith and the confidence that comes with living a life in obedience to God's will for your life.
Let's break this down a bit.
At this point in Abram's life God has told him to leave his homeland and go to a destination that is unknown to him. Abram immediately gathers himself and his family and begins to travel, resting as needed, listening to and for God along the way. While Abram is on his way God begins to bless him with wealth and possessions, enough that his wealth is regularly mentioned throughout his story.
" And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold" - Genesis 13:2
Abram walks in wisdom and resolves conflict to the best of his ability, often immediately after he discovers an issue. The most interesting thing to me is that God often speaks to Abraham after he makes decisions.
This shows that Abram lived a life in close enough communion with God that God was able to correct him and redirect him as needed, but also that Abram's character was strong enough to be able to make wise decisions that God could bless and work through.
What does that mean?
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went."
Abram had faith. He trusted God, he trusted God's plan for his life, he continued his life in the confidence of what God promised him. He built his life and lived his life according to what God called him to do.
So when Abram went to rescue and defend his family, he had no problem turning down the favors of the king, because he already walked in God's favor and found it sufficient.
One of the reasons I know that I struggle in my faith, is because I know that I am not as obedient as I can be, which makes me less confident when I reach out to God. Not because my obedience would make me more worthy of God, but because my disobedience is a result of my lack of faith.
I do things my way, because I don't trust that God's way is best. I have a cognitive understanding that God's will is the best will to walk in and I also have my past experience that has taught me that whenever I've trusted God, He has provided in ways that always exceeds my expectations, yet that memory can be short in the face of temptation or adversity.
Faith requires patience and the longer I live this faith walk, the more opportunities I'm given that shows me that my patience is thin. My way is quick and immediately gratifying, even if it is wrong.
Abraham's faith was consistent and patient, which allowed him the confidence to continue even if he wasn't sure what was happening next, because he knew that God was guiding him to where he needed to be.
That's the kind of faith I'm praying for this week. What about you?