Living by Faith
Open Your Bible
Hebrews 11:1-40, Psalm 39:12-13, Luke 13:34-35
BY Erin Davis
I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I once paid hard-earned money to tour The Bowling Hall of Fame. One of the exhibits was a long hallway of portraits painted of those whose greatest achievement was knocking down a lot of pins with a very heavy ball.
Isn’t our world filled with such hallways? We celebrate silly things. We are impressed by those who amass wealth that cannot purchase anything of lasting significance. We hand out plaques to those who spend decades shuffling papers or building things destined for the burn pile. We celebrate celebrities, knowing full well that they are mere mortals like us.
Hallway after hallway after hallway of portraits honoring achievements that are ultimately insignificant. Not so in the Word of God. Scholars have long branded Hebrews 11 as the “Hall of Faith.” Consider the portraits that hang on these walls.
Let’s consider: Enoch lived 365 years (Genesis 5:23) before he sidestepped death and was taken up to heaven (Hebrews 11:5). Noah built a giant ark because God told him to, then watched humanity drown (v.7). Abraham said yes to God’s remarkable call to offer his only son as a burnt sacrifice (v.17). Moses led the Israelites across the bottom of the sea as heaven-held waves churned on either side (v.29). Rahab welcomed enemy spies into her home, knowing she’d face execution if caught (v.31). Then there are the nameless faces of this hallway. Others experienced mocking and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. “They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted and mistreated” (vv.36–37).
Unlike the bowling hall of fame, the portraits in this hallway take my breath away. Truly,
the world was not worthy of them (v.38).
The heroes of our faith did not fight for all that’s fleeting. They did not fritter away their lives on tchotchkes. They didn’t fill the storehouses of their hearts and minds with things that could not last. Instead, they lived surrendered in radical obedience to God. They deserve our applause. May we join the ranks of those whose greatest achievement is saying “yes” to the one true God.