Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 1 August 2017

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  Hebrews 11, verses 8-11.

When I was a kid, Jerry Lewis used to call himself “the super-Jew” because he would entertain the entire world for 20 hours straight on his annual Labor Day telethon.   Every year, “Jerry the Super-Jew” would sponsor A-list entertainers to work without pay to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).   Over forty years, he raised hundreds of millions of dollars by singing, dancing, vamping, and doing whatever he could to raise awareness that there were thousands of children afflicted with deadly diseases that could be cured.  According to Wikipedia, Lewis began to host telethons to raise money for heart disease.   Later, people with knowledge about muscular disorders came to him and broke his heart.  He had pity that people would respond in kindness when presented with the news that their fellow man needed help.

That’s faith.

Much like Abraham.  I don’t know if God ever told Jerry Lewis to go on TV to raise money, but He told Abraham to simply go to live in a new place.   Abraham did it.   Can you imagine hearing a strange voice from inside you, telling you to leave everything you know and go into some new place?   And it wasn’t as if Abraham did it on a whim.   He was an old man when he first acknowledged God’s command, and what a command it was.   God promised to bless ALL peoples of the earth through Him.  All Abram (as he was then called) had to do was believe and obey.

That’s a tall order, even in Bronze Age Mesopotamia.  ‘Obey me by leaving your home and going to a strange land full of strange, hostile people.   Go there and you’ll be blessed.’   Let’s face it:   we’d both be hard-pressed to say ‘yes, Lord, I’ll go.’   Not Abraham.   He believed that God would bless his fellow man so he left.   He left and headed northwest, to Canaan.   He didn’t know specifically where or why, just that God told him to do it and God would keep his promises.

Beyond these things, we don’t know much about Abram’s upbringing to give us any background as to why Abram would so willingly accept God’s promise as true.   Perhaps that’s the most miraculous part of the mystery.   Abram took God at His word and believed Him.   It’s almost as if he intrinsically understood that this God meant only love and hope for him.  Abraham trusted that God would do good no matter what He told him.   For this, Abraham is remembered as the first of the Semites:  descendants of Noah’s son, Shem, who followed God and became His chosen people.

That’s the real “super-Jew.”  Would that you or I could have such faith and be super-Jews who believe in Jesus.   Here’s the kicker:   we can.   Nothing from God is stopping us.   When we don’t exercise such faith, it’s not God’s doing.   It’s something else.  What’s in your way today?   Will you let it block you, or will you listen to the voice that says “go” no matter where it takes you?   In Matthew 28, Jesus echoes the same command He once gave to Abraham.   Jesus tells us to “go.”   Will you go today?  Where will you put your faith?

Jerry Lewis is still very much alive (currently 91 and still both super and Jewish) but the telethon became a shadow of what it used to be.   In 2011, the MDA unceremoniously dismissed Jerry  after decades of his service because they didn’t feel he connected with younger audiences.   As of 2014, the annual event was discontinued.   I find that sad.   To tell the truth, it was always a bore for a little kid to watch the Labor Day telethon because it was on all three channels and my family wasn’t interested in the Las Vegas entertainment it showed.  Yet I find myself amazed now at the faith this actor and comedian had in his fellow man to simply help kids in need.  I’ve heard Jerry Lewis can be a tough man to get along with.   Perhaps Abraham was as well.   Both men must be shrewd and wise, but also very kind of heart.   Those are super qualities for anyone.

For further reading:  Genesis 12:1-18, Acts 7:2-4, Hebrews 6:17, Hebrews 12:22, Revelation 21:2, Matthew 28.19.

Lord, may I go where You lead me today.