The year 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I. For most of us, WWI is a war shrouded in obscurity. While even the most casual student of World War II can name a few pivotal battles or events only the most savvy historian can discuss WWI with any confidence. Unlike previous wars, its battlefields were not formed around strategic landmarks so much as vast nameless labyrinths of trenches separated only by scorched earth and barbed wire.
Conflict in the trenches is close combat with a mortal enemy. And it is warfare waged in obscurity. So it is with spiritual warfare in our lives. The glorious calling to Christ is so often immediately followed by times of testing. This was true of the Lord, himself. In the gospel of Mark we read that moments following His baptism,
“The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan.” Mark 1:12-13
As his followers we are instructed that “as you have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith.” Our faith is not an event or mere declaration, it is a gift that grows through following Christ in testing and in trials. Much of the life of faith is lived in the trenches. It includes failure and forgiveness, vigilance and victory, perseverance and peace.
The Bible is not a sanitized book of mythologized heroes. It’s most faithful men are sinners who are reconciled to God and with their loved ones only through the gospel. We see their failures and their brokenness in living color, but we also see the kindness of God which leads them to repentance. We see their faith grow large, but only in the trenches.
Abraham is a good example of this. In Genesis 12, God graciously calls Abraham and promises to bless him and be with him. Abraham obeys God’s call and establishes faith and worship as a pattern in his family’s life, yet before the chapter is exhausted, he cowers before a petty tyrant and swaps his beloved wife with a pagan to save his own skin. Though God graciously thwarts Abraham’s faithless act, can you imagine how this might plague his relationship with Sarah and seem to jeopardize God’s means of blessing the families of the earth? Yet this is not what we find. Sin is not the last word. God’s promises have not failed. Though Abraham behaves faithlessly in this situation, God remains faithful to hold him in grace and grows him in his faith. The scripture paints a vivid picture of Abraham’s walk with God, yes sometimes on the high places, but often in the trenches.
Join us this Lord’s Day, July 30, for worship at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as we examine this troubling account of Abraham and Sarah from Genesis 12:10-20 and consider God grows our faith in the trenches. For directions click here. We look forward to seeing you.