Terry R Baughman is Lead Pastor for LifeChurch in Gilbert, AZ. See his complete bio at trbaughman.com
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Longing for a Better Country
Living by Faith
Terry R. Baughman
“If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:15–16 NKJV).
Abraham was called to leave home before he had ever seen where he was going. Apparently, he had a relationship with God from his youth, so when God spoke to him to leave his father’s house in Haran and journey into the land of Canaan he was ready to make preparations to go.
When we are challenged to select a travel destination, we are rather spoiled in that we have color brochures, YouTube videos, and our research assistant, Google, to find out all the information we want, along with full color pictures of most any location we might select. We would want to check the mileage and the best route to travel through our map app. We might even check Yelp to find the best restaurants and hotels along the way and compare their reviews.
Sadly, our ability to get all this information in advance takes some of the “living by faith” element out of our Christian walk. If we know where we are going and have already downloaded the most popular attractions for our journey, where is the need for faith or the uncertainty of the adventure. How can we learn to trust in God when we can find all the answers for ourselves. Of course, there can still be surprises that arise and detours along our journey. These should not be viewed as an annoyance, but rather an opportunity to find that God had planned this little unexpected event and He has the ability to make it a learning experience for our good!
Hebrews chapter 11 is often referred to as the “faith hall of fame” in the Scriptures. Many of those listed in this chapter are well-known among the patriarchs and prophets. The writer sometimes pulls the difficulties they faced into the forefront to see that these challenges were actually wonderful opportunities to learn more about God. When we set out to teach a course or a series of lessons, the best thing we can do is take the time to review the lessons and learn the outcomes for ourselves. Those featured in Hebrews 11 were imperfect people with the ability to rise above their doubts and fears and embrace the unknown element of faith.
Faith is the essential quality that enables us to connect with God. Without it we cannot please God and will never enter into a relationship with Him. The writer of Hebrews warned, “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 diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
To those listed in this chapter, God gave a vision of a place they had never seen, and they set out to find it. Many grew old or their life was cut short before they realized that they had not yet arrived and the destination was still out of reach. It seems inconclusive and unkind to end the journey before the traveler had the opportunity to complete his route, but in truth all dreams should be bigger than our ability to grasp and every destination should be beyond our map and just out of reach. That way we never stop trying and never quit reaching. We all are longing for a better country and a heavenly city. We have God’s word to direct us on the right path!
Here is our challenge, “Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen” (Hebrews 11:1 TPT). Some things we desire are beyond the horizon and may only be seen in heaven, but we can still seek them.
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13).