We call Hebrews 11 the faith chapter. I tend to think of it as the story chapter.
Back before movies, before television and comic books, before the printing press, scrolls, or even shadow puppetry, there was story. Passed down from generation to generation, stories were told over and over again, so that a mere name would hold specific meaning in someone's mind.
It's an art we seemingly have lost; partially because of the overload of stories and messages that hit our mind every waking hou, but also possibly because so many names are so common that their life's message has been lost amongst so many other lives. Or, possibly, because we simply don't know the stories to begin with.
There are some stories we still remember distinctly in American culture - because of their name uniqueness. Names like:
- Hansel and Gretel
- Martin Luther King, Jr
- Captain America
I can tell you these stories, but there are so many stories that stump me. I remember vague ideas and recollections of Sunday School; but these pillars of faith sometimes blur together. It's so easy to mush them all together. Even in this faith chapter, this Cliff's Notes of Bible heroes there are people whose lives were chronicled that I have no idea why they are so important.
Who is Barak? How do you say Jephthah?
In Hebrews 11, key stories are summed up in brief sentances. People's lives are told and the truth that their faith demonstrated is easily understood. We even read this clearly:
By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was approved as a righteous man, because God approved his gifts, and even though he is dead, he still speaks through his faith. [Hebrews 11:4 HCSB]
Which begs the question of us:
When we are dead, what stories will speak of our faith?
Will there be stories of walls that came tumbling down when we sang praises to God? Will we be willing to move to a foreign land, full of nothing but strangers and a call from the Lord? Would we be able to raise a child, even after we've passed the normal age to do so? Would we go against the edicts and laws of our land to save a gift from God?
What will our life's story of faith be? What stories will we put our faith in?