I heard the story of a couple that got married and their friends wanted to give them a special gift. They all chipped in and booked a 5 star hotel for their first honeymoon night. This hotel had everything you could imagine. The couple had a preview of the room by seeing some incredible pictures of the place.
With great anticipation they made their way to the hotel after the wedding party was over. They checked in and eventually stood in front of the door. They swung the door open and walked into the room. It was a lot smaller than they had expected. A lot of the luxury items they were expecting were missing. The room did not even have a proper bed. There was a couch that could be transformed into a simple bed. Surprised and disappointed they spent the night in this room.
The next morning as they checked out of the hotel they expressed their disappointments to the lady working in the reception. She thought that it sounded like something was not quite right. She called the hotel manager who came and spoke with the couple. He suggested they have a look at the room together so they could point out what they did not like. As the manager opened the same door the couple opened the night before all three of them walked in. Immediately they listed things they were missing in the room. Suddenly the manger realized what had happened. He walked to the other side of the room and pointed to another door that had the same color as the decorative wallpaper. He opened the door and invited them into the actual room! As they walked through they could not believe their eyes. Everything was there! They had spent the night in the entrance room!
As I was thinking about the experience of this couple I started to see spiritual lessons. It is very important to open the right doors in life. God is inviting us into an experience with Him that is far beyond anything we could ever imagine. It is like entering a room full of spiritual blessings without end. Yet often times we are content with less. Religion without a living connection with God is like staying in the entrance room, spiritually speaking. Sometimes our prayer lives are in the entrance room. We feel like our prayers just hit the ceiling and go no further. We get distracted and easily give up or fall into a mere routine of saying the same things over and over again. Bible study can also take place in the entrance room. We skim the surface as we read the stories we have heard so many times. We already know the outcome and so we easily tune out half way. Preaching also often happens in the entrance room. We hear the same things again and again presented in a palatable way so everyone can handle it, but real depth and passion is missing. Sometimes our witnessing happens in the entrance room. We share our faith once in a while when it fits and move on before the person can probe any more into what we meant. I could go on and on. On some level I think you can relate to what I am saying. So how do we open the right door into Gods presence, into a living and powerful experience with our Creator?
I think the answer is a 5 letter word. A whole chapter in the Bible is dedicated to this word. The entire life of Jesus is founded on this word. Ok, I guess I have made you curious enough.
Faith is the door that provides the way into God’s presence. Faith enables us to experience God in a living way that absolutely transforms our lives. Faith leads us to do things we would never have done without faith. It allows us to see God in a new way and in turn to see the world in a new way. Faith is seeing as God sees!
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Heb 11:1
In other words there is a reality that exists that is just as real as God Himself, but to experience this reality we must see as God sees. It’s like entering into a new dimension. Not wishful thinking, or hoping for the best, but of trusting completely in God’s ways despite of the seemingly contrary evidences around us. Stories work best to illustrate this. Thankfully Hebrews chapter 11 is full of them.
“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it being dead still speaks.” – Hebrews 11:4
Abel offered a sacrifice believing that this pointed forward to the coming deliverer, the promised Messiah who would die for all sins. He had not seen Jesus, but believed the reality of the promise that He would come. This resulted in Abel acting in obedience by bringing a sacrifice that reflected His faith in a God who would provide salvation. And this act of obedience and faith eventually lead to his death according to the story of Genesis.
“By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, and was not found, because God had taken him, for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” – Hebrews 11:5
The next story of faith is Enoch who was translated to heaven without tasting death. It is interesting to note that faith manifests itself differently in people’s lives. For Abel faith lead him to loose his life, while for Enoch it meant never tasting death. Faith finds different expressions in different people. For you to exercise faith may lead to somewhat different actions than somebody else around you. But faith shares a common ground and that is seeing God’s reality. Enoch saw God by faith and communed with Him. Though his physical eyes could not see Him, his heart knew Him well.
“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” – Hebrews 11:7
It had never rained when this promise was first given. Nothing indicated that it would rain, yet Noah decides to believe the message of God as a reality and acts in obedience. He sees the world as God sees it. He expresses faith.
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” – Hebrews 11:8
Again we see the comparison and contrast principle here. Noah was asked to build an Ark and did this in one spot for 120 years, while Abraham was called to leave his home and go to a place he knew not. Faith manifests itself differently in lives and while Noah was called to stay, Abraham was called to go. Both opened the door of faith, but their spiritual journey was different. But just like Noah had to see with God’s eyes, so did Abraham. He was willing to believe that wherever God would lead him this would be the best place for him.
One thing is for sure. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and all the other men and women mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11, did not have an “entrance room” experience. They opened the door of faith wide open and walked into an experience that changed their lives and the lives of others coming after them. They knew God on a very personal level as it is written of Abraham that – “he was called the friend of God” (James 2:23).
I believe that in a way Hebrews 11 is an unfinished chapter. God still records the faith of His friends today and perhaps one day we will have access to the full edition. And maybe in chapter 5438 there is a verse about your faith. Just bear with my imagination. Let it sink in. God wants you part of His story. History is His story. So is the future. What holds you from experiencing true faith? Don’t be content with an “entrance room” experience. Open the door of faith. Let faith find its expression in your life!