Long, long ago, world maps were incomplete. Of course, this was not helpful to people who were traveling long distances. A few adventurous souls would choose to throw caution to the wind and set out anyway, into the unknown. Failing to return home, friends and loved ones could only guess at their fate, likely fabricating awful and spurious stories. In an effort to warn future travelers of the dangers, the maps highlighted unknown territories with dangerous creatures like dragons. In some ways, this practice still lives within us.
Think of your latest opportunity. Maybe you have been asked to speak publicly, or perhaps you need to confront a negative situation at work. In the moment, you say “yes, I am going to accept that challenge.” As time passes however, your commitment wanes. When you consider all the negative possibilities, fear shows up. Left unchecked, our fear builds to the point of capitulation. We end up calling in sick for the public speaking event and simply avoiding our negative work situation. Both are horrible endings. What hope do we have? God calls us to live in faith.
The church in Hebrews had a similar problem. For whatever reason, they lost their confidence, no longer sure of hope. Instead, they replaced it with fear. The writer of Hebrews is encouraging them to endure, saying “Just a little longer, trust me, everything will turn out well.” Don’t you know that the medieval sailors had similar situations. Knowing that a shorter trade route was possible, they set sail. Upon entering the unknown, they experienced storm after storm. Their choice was to continue and face the danger, or quit, turning back to their old lives.
The truth is that we all have these opportunities. It is our choice whether we advance with faith in God’s promises, or retreat. Hebrews 10:33 calls it “shrinking back.” The result, of shrinking back, according to the author, is destruction. Responding through faith, however, allows us to press on, everyday, into the unknown with full assurance of what we hope for and the things that we cannot see.
What does “the full assurance of what we hope for” mean to you? I would love to hear how it helps you stand firm in faith. Will you share your comment today?