Trust and Obey

By Michael Smith

A Reading from Hebrews 11:1-12

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found, because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old — and Sarah herself was barren — because he considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”

Meditation

Today’s epistle reading begins with the beautiful definition of “faith” as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” It is then followed by a litany of spiritual ancestors who, first, trusted in God, and then obeyed the Holy One. The acts of trusting and obeying call to mind the 19th-century hymn refrain by John Sammis:

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

These days of pandemic are difficult for us who had hoped for much more at this point. The discovery of the vaccine raised our hopes that we could emerge from our dens of self-isolation and get on with our lives. And then we were forced to scurry back with the onset of the omicron variant. How long, O Lord?

I draw strength from another biblical teaching on faith:

We do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

Once more with gusto:

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for fifteen years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Kano – The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
Church of St. John the Divine, Houston, Texas

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