(This is a continuation of Monday's thought.)
"We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf" - Hebrews 6:19-20a ESV
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible... And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." - Hebrews 11:1-3, 6 ESV
This cord of hope has secured people for centuries. Faith has been the substance of the testimony of each believer. It has been the proof of a connection to the divine. It is the rationale of why we talk about the unseen things of the Bible as if we can reach out and touch them.
Abel offered the correct sacrifice and still has a voice today because of the hope that was real to him.
Enoch has his eyes on God and did not see death.
Noah built an ark.
Abraham went out by faith drawn by hope and secure in hope. Sarah his wife took the lifeline of the promise that was given outside the tent and received on the inside the tent. She laughed at the thought of having a child but God never let go of the cord that He threw to her and she conceived and had a son in her old age.
"And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets - who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated - of whom the world was not worthy - wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." - Hebrews 11:32-40 ESV
Before the cross these believers had hope. We have seen the face of hope. We have the witness of the person of hope being born in Bethlehem. This man who Is God has become a door of hope.
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.' " - John 14:6-7 ESV
Paul was a man who passed behind the veil. God's cord had drawn him all the way home and back again.
"And I know that this man was caught up into paradise - whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows - and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses - though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations" - 2 Corinthians 12:3-7a ESV
Perhaps our infirmities leave less slack on the cord. Paul glorified God in his weakness and did not emphasize His strengths. Paul's faith was substance. It was proof of his connection to the divine. There was little slack on his cord. As he got older he got ahead of himself less and less.
Grace was and Is sufficient for us. It is scandalous and nonsensical when compared to the common practices of the world. To function in grace we must be connected to the beautiful invisible God of grace. We can only do it because He is drawing us out of our homeland. Jesus has become our ark. We look at ourselves and laugh at the idea that we could be used to replicate anything but He uses us.
One day like Enoch we will be drawn up and we will pass by death like a swift runner because powerful angels will have a firm hold on us. The cord will not be cut and we will say...
"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" - 1 Corinthians 15:55 KJV