Day after day of life demands we have faith in God. Lots of it. After all, so much of what God promises us is future. And honestly? It seems most of what we live for is a hope that never seems to arrive. God knows that.
Thankfully, the Lord also gives us tangible encouragement here and now to push us along toward that elusive, untouchable future we long for.
Abraham needed that same encouragement, and God gave it to him in an unusual way. He told him to take a walk—and to look around.
We need to take that same walk.
When Life Drains You Dry
A life of faith comes with a life of problems. Abraham had his fill, and even his wealth failed to fix the struggles. In fact, wealth caused them.
At Bethel and Ai, the land couldn’t sustain the flocks of both Abraham and his nephew Lot, so they had to part company. Abe gave Lot first choice of where to go, and of course, Lot took the Jordan Valley—the land that looked the best (Gen. 13:1–12). Abraham got the leftovers.
Sounds much like our lives, right? We sacrifice for others, we acquiesce to their preferences so much, we surrender to their scruples so often—it seems we end up living on the leftovers. The leeches of Proverbs demand of us: “Give, give!” (Prov. 30:15), and soon we feel drained dry of life and vitality. It seems giving is all we do.
We know one day God will fulfill our longings, but the fulfillment of our hope always seems so far way. So intangible. Untouchable. Unreal.
So God steps in and gives us something real to hug until hope shows up.
After Abraham offered the land to the leech, Lot, the Lord encouraged the old man:
The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever…. Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” (Genesis 13:14–17)
Notice two actions God told Abraham to take:
Look at the land—ALL of it (north, south, east, west). Why look? Because “I will give it to you” (v. 15).
Walk in the land—ALL of it (through its length and breadth). Why walk? Because “I will give it to you” (v. 17).
God encouraged Abraham, who had just given away the best part of the land, that one day he would inherit all the land. Seeing that land and walking about in it gave Abraham a real-life connection to promises that could seem intangible. Experiencing the land with all the senses gave him a tactile hope for the promises of God. A hope rooted in reality.
Both the man and the land had the same future.
Putting Legs on Our Hope
God offers hope with more than words on the page. If we’re alert to them, we can see tangible expressions today of our hope tomorrow. God has always done this with His people.
Joseph’s correct interpretation of his cellmates’ dreams encouraged him that his own dreams would come true (Gen. 40).
Nabal’s death at God’s hand encouraged David that King Saul would face the same fate, and David would be king (1 Sam. 25:38; 26:10).
For Abraham, seeing the land and experiencing it firsthand helped put reality to his faith and gave a context for God’s good promise for the future. God did more than make promises to Abe. He also wanted him to see and experience something of that promise here and now to strengthen his faith in the parts yet future.
Real Estate and Real Hope
In a sense, this same experience occurs whenever we visit the Promised Land today. We get to see and walk in the context of God’s promises to Abraham. But we have more events to connect with the land than Abraham did. We have the whole Bible—including Jesus’ promise to come again to reign.
The fulfillment of God’s promises is more than spiritual. It includes the physical. Jesus rose from a physical death in a physical body in order to reign on a physical earth. The same will be true for us.
Our walk with God demands faith, for sure. But the Lord encourages our faith along with real, physical elements that push us on toward a future that feels so far away.
Take a walk. Look around. Seeing and walking the land gives a context for our hope.
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