Anticipating Abraham

 

I like to peer into, and glean from the lives of men who are the heroes of our faith, who have gone before us, and walked with God.   It is helpful in walking our own road of faith.
Abraham was a great believer, and to me was most notable for his obedience.  Obedience was the great facet of his life, yet there is more, Abraham was fully persuaded and lived in constant anticipation, so ever hopeful of following, and finding his promises from God.

When you are on a journey to a faraway place,  the road just seems to go on and on forever.
I  grew up in the heartland of South Africa, which is farmland, and so flat that on a good day you can see tomorrow.    The national road, that took us on our annual summer vacation to go and see, smell and taste the saltiness of the ocean,  was a very flat, straight, long, lazy strip of tar in vast farmland fields.    It went on forever, or so it seemed to me at the time, for when you have great anticipation, the getting there is almost unending.
Or, do you remember when you were a child, the almost unbearable anticipation for the time to open the Christmas gifts under the tree?   You could just not wait !

Anticipation is a healthy frame of mind. It is a desire that may, or may not be delayed, but nevertheless creates expectation, and that leads to hope.
The opposite of anticipation is anxiety, which is rooted in fear, the opposite of faith.
Anxiety creates worry, that can can lead to depression.
Hope is required for a future,  and a future needs a vision.
Perhaps one of the reasons mental illness is so prevalent in our times is that we have it all and there’s nothing to look forward to, no anticipation.
Proverbs 29:18 says  –  where there is no vision, the people perish. 

If there was one thing that Abraham had its was a vision of the future.
He is one of the great heroes of our faith.    In fact Abraham is the father of our faith.   It began with Abraham, when he heard the call of God to go on a journey to a faraway place that he did not know, or even how to get there.    That would require a response, and faith.   And what is faith  – believing the invisible, that which you cannot see, as if it were a reality.

Faith verse

And though some of you may not be familiar with who Abraham is in the Christian faith, his is a fascinating story of another dimension, set in the ordinary of the every day life   -yet woven in is this thing called Faith.   

Here briefly is the story of Abraham.

He was living in a heathen civilization, where idols were worshipped.  God told him to leave this land and his family and to go to another land.   A place where he would inherit the promises of God – the Promised Land.  (There is a parallel story here, between the physical and the spiritual)
Abraham, obeyed the call, and began to move on the long journey.
Abraham had a vision from God, and was promised that he would be the father of many nations, even though he was old, and did not have an heir.    Sarah his wife laughed when she was told that she would bear a son in her old age.     Isaac, which means laughter, was born to Abraham and Sarah – a miracle child.

Abraham became a wealthy man, a man of renown.
Apart from Isaac,  Abraham had other sons too.  Ishmael was born of Hagar, but they were sent off into the desert.

Isaac, the beloved son, married Rebecca and she had two children, the twins  Jacob and Esau.
Jacob, was sent to seek a wife from Isaac’s people.   He was deceived into marrying Leah.  He had 10 children.    Then he married his first love, Rachel, the sister of Leah, and they had two children,  Joseph and Benjamin.

In all Jacob had 12 sons, from which the 12 tribes of Israel would originate.
So the foundations of the nations were laid.

The forging and fostering of a people of faith began to emerge.
When  famine struck, they all went to Egypt for survival, which would become their place of slavery for four hundred years.   There they became known as the Hebrews.
Moses was born to deliver these people from their slavery and their oppression.

And so the story of a rescued people, destined for a better life in a promised land continues.   Their story unfolds through altar stones of worship, tabernacles and temples and then the City of Jerusalem.     Their story and wisdom congeals and is chronicled in their rich history in the  Old Testament.

Abraham had a vision of a city, of which God Himself  ‘is the builder and maker.’    And to this Abraham was called – to journey into the unknown, a journey of faith, for it was not, as yet, a real city.   A city forged in faith, through the making of a people of faith.   This was God’s vision,  a  v e r y  long term vision indeed – and Abraham received and
perceived it and so set out to find it.

 

City of God

 

I had been wanting to look a little deeper into faith, so when Dr Mark Chironna did a series on Hebrews 11,  I began to connect some dots, that overflowed, for me,  into the bigger picture of our faith.
So I tried to piece together the “faith genealogy” and where Abraham fitted into the whole of God’s story, and came to this brief summary, which may indicate that Abraham knew the story from the beginning to the end – he was given the whole story, apart from the details.

Adam,……… to Seth to Enoch and the genealogy line to Noah, the Flood.
Abraham,  the called faith people of God
Moses, the Law of God’s people
Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Kingdom of God, –  the miraculous ushered into the physical realm.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ, – the New Creation.
The City of God, the New Jerusalem.

Abraham was an ordinary man.   He made mistakes along the way.   He’s faith had not yet been perfected.
We can make mistakes too, our faith is not yet perfected.  ‘ Faith is good, becomes great and then perfected ‘ – says Dr Chironna.

History tells us that when the beloved city Jerusalem is finally destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD they are scattered, and Judaism is established to keep alive the Jewish traditions.
Jesus Christ is born in Bethlehem, and His followers become known as Christians, and the Christian religion is born on the back of the Jewish belief – in an invisible God, Creator of heaven and earth, with a Messiah and a redemption story for mankind, that would pave the way to a New Creation.

Redemption from the Great Oppressor of slavery, an evil liar who kills steals and destroys wherever and whenever he can do so, and still doing so to this very day !
And thereby may hang another story.

I suspect that Abraham may well have understood the Heavenly vision for
John 8:56  tells us that ‘Abraham saw Jesus’s day and rejoiced in it.‘   He knew that God raised Jesus from the dead, and this gave him the faith to know that God could raise up Isaac, when he was told to kill his own son as a sacrifice.
Abraham had great faith in God.

Abraham and sacrifice

 

 He knew that God was a miracle working God.    He was not only able to obey God, but trusted God, for he may well have known the story of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead, in fact the Gospel story.

Today, it is still faiths’s pattern to look ahead to a better future,  with anticipation and with hope.   A better place.      A place called heaven, the Promised Land,  that has a city where there are no tears or pain.   For now, an invisible place, that requires eyes that see and ears that hear and a heart that understands.
It requires faith to make it a reality.

Faith is important.   It is an essential substance that should be applied to our everyday lives too, for without faith we cannot please God. 
Hebrews 11:6  But 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.
God is faithful.

Let’s be the people that will go to make up that City….. a people of Faith, and practice it in our ordinary everyday lives,  always looking ahead  ‘calling those things which do not exist as though they did.’    There are still miracles that can be called in through faith, there are still people that need to know that God is a miracle working God, that all is not lost, that there is a better tomorrow, because with faith hope and love anything is possible.    Its God’s way.
As Dr Chironna says :  faith collapses the impossible into a possible reality.
(Love that !)

Its the miracle Gospel story, that will open us up to the same faith journey that Abraham undertook.
May we, like Abraham, perceive a good future and moved into it with anticipation, expectation and hope, standing on the promises in God’s Word – that is Faith !

 

God’s-Promises-Are-Yes-And-Amen-Bible-Quote

 

 

 

 

The Feather-duster Man

 

Feather duster man

At one time the feather-duster-and-broom man was a slight phenomena in South Africa.  One would see him on almost every street corner.
Recently I was happy to spot another feather-duster-and-broom-man, and my thoughts turned to the economy.  Now here was a man who was trying to make a buck, despite the fact that he really had no hope of scratching a living out of selling feather dusters.   But that was not the point, or the reality of the situation.   He most likely lived on the few pence he made for the day, even if it was just paying for his transport to town to collect the dusters.   He had decided to grab at a chance to do an honest days ‘work’ – walking the streets and selling feather dusters, but in fact he was an entrepreneur,  he was creating a career – and one day that may well become the way of the future.

I find the Street People around us so interesting.

Car guard Urban
Meet a man called Urban, the friendly Car-guard,  at a local shopping centre.

There are the Car-guards at the shopping centre.   With a bit of organising, they work for a man, or company, who create opportunities for those who are unemployed.  Depending on the goodwill of the customers, whose cars they ‘guard’,  help unload the shopping trolley, courteously stop the traffic to let you out of your parking spot, and return the trolley to the shop, they can and do make a small survival living.   Most do it with a smile on their face, a polite greeting and a wave good-bye.    If you don’t have small change to give, some say,   ‘never mind next time’!

There are people who stand at the traffic lights, burnt by the sun, to beg for a penny or two.     There is a particular robot in the suburbs I ride through where a decent looking white lady, in a shoe-string top and trousers, stands unashamedly hoping for a bit of support from the passing traffic.
When I see her I often wonder what story she would tell, and why she does what she does to bring in a little finance.
Further into the inner city there are many scruffy looking young men, who, one can tell, have addiction problems.    My heart goes out to these young people.   What chance have they to make a decent life for themselves.   Life on the streets is hard, its a hell of its own.

Giving it some thought, I understand that there is a  strata in the art of making a living.
From the beggars at the street corners, to the feather duster man, the Car-guard, the Fruit and Veg Vendors, the Zimbabwe wire and bead weavers or  the African mamas that capture the tourist trade with their handcrafted talent  – these are those who have nanoscopic to miniscual to trickling to irregular  incomes – all trying to make a living and meet the high demands the economy makes to extract a pound of flesh from a half-loaf of bread needed to still hunger pains.
And although they may be on the bottom rung of the food chain, they form the bulk of the informal income, which if well conducted should be included in the greater scheme of the economy, with extra benefits and favour.

 

Fruit vendor SA

 

durban-beachfront-african-street-market-durban-south-africa-BFE1XF

That is just the bottom end of the economic level of any one country.     For  Poverty is everywhere.    But all is not doom and gloom.  There are the middle and upper and higher echelons in our societies, (that are far removed from the street level) – and that make a good living, and a ridiculously rich living, (those who can buy a Claude Monet painting for over a million dollars !!)   Albeit a very beautiful painting, how can such a price be justified, I ask.
When I saw this on the global news, I said to my son, just hang on to my ‘ pencil artwork’ in enough years it may well be worth a foolish man’s fortune!

I disdain negativity.   But now and again, I despair of the future.   With every societal revolution beginning with the Industrial Revolution – the discovery of steam power, electricity and the then world-widening trade routes, to the Automotive Revolution,  the Sexual Revolution of the sixties, that loosened and cracked up our moral foundations, marking the place for the perversity and confusion to come,  to the current Information Technology that banishes all geographic and financial boundaries to the nether-sphere.  And now the foreseeable future of the A I  – Artificial Intelligence,  and, even more scary the possible self-annihilating age of the oncoming Quantum-Computer !

Rich Poor sign

And its all called  ‘Progress’.   There is no doubt that much benefit and convenience (the up-side)  have been derived from these discoveries in our history.    But when I look back over these man-made wonders,  intelligentsia and innovations  – and their out-workings,  I  see more people unemployed.   Is unemployment with its desegregation the malady of our times :  no work, no money, no future no hope – more poverty and despair, riding on its wake of drunkenness addictions and depression within our societies ?

Will the future hold more Street People, like the feather duster and broom man ?
But he has with him the tenacity to do an honest day’s work, with a dream of a better life.  He has hope, and that will carry him through to a better tomorrow.
So the next time you see him, consider buying a feather duster or broom,  even if you don’t need one,  you will be fuelling the future with hope !
Like poverty, dust is everywhere, and settles to grime if you don’t dust and sweep regularly.      Clean homes gather dust too !

 

Broom man
Mr Blessing Ngubane, creates hope for the future.

So support the entrepreneurs,  those ‘career creators’,  for one day, in the fast approaching robotic future,  (remember robots they don’t ask for wage increased, don’t need medical aid, don’t protest, or strike for rights, – they are the perfect employee !) …  who knows we may all have to become entrepreneurs with tenacity and hope in our hearts.

But don’t despair with me, keep in mind that the future is ultimately in God’s hands,  and He knows the end from the beginning, we just need to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us, and to consider the poor and the needy among us.

Psalm 41: 1  Blessed is he who considers the poor,
The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.

 

pink feather duster

 

 

Day of the Covenant

 

flying SA flag

A Prayer for South Africa.

Father God on this day, 16 December,  we look back on the history of this land,  and we remember the Covenant made with You for victory in battles past fought.
We stand amazed at Your goodness to all the peoples of this country, and how the struggles of the present and the struggles of the past have made us a people of strange resilience.
Inbred in us is a sense of justice, of peace and of reconciliation.   With quiet resolve to seek from You, fairness for all, progress for all – and  work for all.
For it is in working together, to and for this land that we will stand strong.
It is on building one vision that we will continue to live with purpose, as fellow workers, in a prosperous place, with bountifulness to share with others.
You have woven us together in diversity and destiny, a beautiful social fabric of many colours, creeds and cultures.  We are a product of Your handiwork,
And today,  as we thank You, we invite You and declare Your Presence, Your wisdom and Your hand of goodness and greatness, as in times past, to be our vision for the future.
Bless South Africa with Your love, here at the southern tip of Africa, so that we may bless the nations of the world.

Cape Town flag

Proverbs 29:18
Where there is no vision the people perish.