Running the Faith Relay

“How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.” (Hebrews 11: 32-34).

It’s such a simple thought, but just ponder it: faith is the heart and soul of our relationship with God. It is the igniter that brought us to the cross and moved us to commit to Him. It is the lens through which we see the world and the litmus test we use to turn conviction into life-change. It is a tool we use to search our hearts and the baton we must be desperate to pass on to as many people as we can possibly manage.

So why is it so easy to lose our awareness of it, let alone our reverence for it?

That answer is simple: our sin. God created man and woman without it, but once they invited sin into their landscape, it became the very nature of the human race. Inherently, we are prone to sin, and so faith must be something we work for. When we’re behind the wheel, we have to remember to bless the person that cut us off. When we’ve been abandoned by people who say they loved us, we have to remember that no worldly source can fill the void. When we want to tell a co-worker off, we have to remember that although we feel our reaction is justified, that doesn’t make it valid.

So, as Christians, when we struggle to find grace for the people and things that ruffle our feathers, what weapon can we pull out of our arsenal? Faith. Faith is the “I believe” statement that gives us access to the power of the Father. This power is not for you to smite your enemies or exact revenge. Instead, it is the strength we need to confront our moments of fleshly weakness and react in a way that glorifies God.

Lucky for us, we have more than a few Biblical rockstars to call upon for inspiration and examples. In fact, Hebrews 11 is oftentimes called the “Faith Hall of Fame,” because it goes through generations of righteously faithful men and women who gave God glory and left a legacy of faith that we can still use to model our behavior in the right now.

Hebrews 11:39-40 shows why it is so important for us to regard our faith as the very fabric of our lives. “Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.” (MSG)

See, your faith is unique to you and your experiences, but it is also a piece of the collective church. And I’m not talking about the church today; I’m talking about the church since the beginning of time. My faith is just one leg in a relay race that originated in the Garden of Eden and has stretched through generations and millennia before it ever got to me. It is the culmination of combined efforts since Adam took that fateful bite into sin, and since that day, millions of people we know of and even more people we don’t have been running forward with that faith for the glory of God.

What does that mean for you, the individual? It means that you need to hold tightly to it and do it justice because your faith is not solely yours. It is a piece of the bigger picture. The faith of martyrs and kings and prophets cannot be completed until you add your piece to it. That makes your faith your responsibility and your job because every name in the Faith Hall of Fame is depending on you to run up your piece to the finish. What’s inside you stands on the efforts of everyone from Abel, to King David, to Billy Graham. What you do with it determines whether their efforts are completed.

The enemy would love to let you think that faith is just some cliché, five letter word that belongs on friendship bracelets and Hallmark cards. He wants you to forget the importance of it so that you’ll put it up on a shelf and allow it to be emotional collateral for personal tragedies or religious fluff. If that’s how you view faith, you need to know that’s a lie. Your faith is a living, breathing legacy that needs to be protected and lived out daily. It needs to be nurtured through deliberate and meaningful time spent with the Lord. This is the one thing you can’t afford to make light of or cut corners on.

The faith inside you has been on Noah’s Ark and walked through the Red Sea. The faith inside of you slew giants and cast down false gods. The faith inside of you has spent the night in a lion’s den and a fiery furnace. It rode to Bethlehem on the back of a donkey and was born in a lowly stable. It died on a cross and emerged from the grave. It’s been inside of you all this time and it’s waiting for you to run it up and do your part. Don’t drop it and don’t put it up on a shelf to forget about. There’s a lot of people looking at you to keep it going.

So this begs one very important question: What will you do with it?

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