Abraham built an altar of obedience and trust when he didn’t know where he was to go. There are moments in each of our lives when we ask, with anguish in our hearts, “Where, Lord?” We have a decision to make with no clear direction. The believer’s “where” can be related to his career, his studies, where to go to school, whether to move, where to go to church, where to go after tragedy or sickness. In all these “where’s” we must build an altar of confidence and trust where we release everything into His hands. Faith that builds an altar when we don’t know where to go will never be disappointed. God will bless, provide and protect as we grow in our trust and confidence in Him. Abraham also built an altar of faith when he didn’t know God’s “what, how, or why.”
“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. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country. . . . Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore” (Hebrews 11:8-9 and 12, NKJV).
There is so much substance and spiritual weight in these few verses. Abraham’s test was in the waiting—He didn’t know God’s “when.” The fulfillment always seemed to be delayed and the promise appeared to be vanishing little by little, the doubts becoming a “Mount Everest” of unbelief. He came to a place where he had absolutely no idea how God could possibly accomplish what He had promised. In these passages of the book of Hebrews the author makes reference to God’s promise to Abraham that he would have a son. For Sarah and Abraham it had always been difficult, so hard to believe, but now they were staring at an endless ocean of impossibility as far as the eye could see. It was a situation in which the only resource was faith to “rebuild” an altar in order to receive.
Abraham had faced this war with unbelief his whole life. Just as you and I, many times he found himself deep in these fierce battles of faith with the adversary and he was torn up with pangs of anguish from this endless questioning that is common to all believers: When? How? Why? Where, God?
Claude Houde, lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada, is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.