These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Heb.11:39-40.
It is cold. I shiver as I sit upright in bed, my Nook screen glowing into the darkness. I cannot put it down; I am entranced. I read a long book, a redemption story. This story is about a young man raised in a dysfunctional home, battling to be free of childhood pain. I studied Psychology in graduate school and the intricacies of his relational dynamics fascinate me. Generational fallout wafts its poison around this young man’s life and he breathes it in, making it a part of him. Deception, manipulation, greed, revenge, secrets, rivalry, betrayal, anger, selfishness. The family waded through a generational quagmire of scheming ambition and relational distrust. Children compete for echoes of lost love. Sisters and brothers betray each other for tokens of divided attention. Parents see only their own scars. This young man grew up twisted, bent inward to dreams. He experiences a long redemption after leaving home, but he carries scars that occasionally seep out the embedded poison. His story ends with forgiveness and wisdom, deep resolution that eternally shapes the successive generations.
So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into a new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story.
Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Romans 4:2. NAS.
It hits me late in the night, a heavy weight of glory, the glory of matchless mercy. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph – they are exactly the right family to undergird God’s story of redemption. They are cracked into pieces, just like you and me. This damaged family produced a series of unlikely heroes, beloved and chosen, not by merit, but by mysterious grace. Abraham believed in his role in God’s story, which set off a chain reaction of redemptive splendor that continues today. I emerge from the history of the Patriarchs with no desire to justify their dysfunctional choices or to whitewash their flawed history, as I have heard many Bible teachers attempt to do. I simply see my own broken reflection in the mirror of God’s word. They were selected and redeemed by the same mighty grace that woos me. Therefore I can walk with their limitless confidence in God’s character reflected onto me. We are all unworthy of our destiny, but O, I am dizzy with gratitude for it. “I am my Beloved’s and He is Mine. His banner over me is Love.”(Song of Songs 2:4).
I pray to be like Jacob, post-wrestling. His name means “deceiver” and he lived up to it more than any other Biblical figure except the Devil himself. But God changed his name to Israel, which means “God Strives.” Mercy, yes. On His deathbed, Jacob, the manipulative mastermind behind thirteen broken children, four desperate, conniving women and a bounty of riches gained through ambitious schemes, prayed this prayer of blessing over his grandchildren.
May the God before whom my fathers
Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,
the God who has been my shepherd
all my life to this day,
the Angel who has delivered me from all harm
—may he bless these boys.
May they be called by my name
and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac,
and may they increase greatly
on the earth.
To see a legacy of faith instead of works, to believe in the Promise more than the past, to walk humbly into an endless vortex of grace…..