One of the all-time classic themes of the Bible…that will be explored in this book…is that the God-composed journeys of faith recorded in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible…must be above and beyond our capacity to contrive…or even to imagine ahead of time. As the creator of everything and everyone, God alone knows our individual attributes and abilities.
Walks of faith, journeys of faith, and adventures of faith…because of their supernatural origin…stretch people to achieve more than they could have imagined possible. God-composed adventures of faith are purposely designed to be beyond our reach to invent or self-orchestrate. Adventures of faith reveal that God knows us inside and out…by the uncannily precise matching of our challenging adventure of faith that brings out talents and abilities…and nobly moral characteristics…that we did not even know ahead of time we possessed.
If we could go back in time and interview the people of faith in the Bible, they would tell us to a person that they initially had no idea they had the innate ability to go as far as God took them…through their individually crafted adventures of faith.
I think it would be reasonably safe to say that Abraham did not see himself as the future “father of faith” as he walked from the city of Haran toward the land of Canaan (Gen. 17:18). Although Joseph probably had a good sense of his innate leadership talents, it is doubtful that he ever imagined that he would someday become governor of Egypt while he labored in Potiphar’s house and languished in Pharaoh’s prison. Moses certainly has no way of seeing into the future the great deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, as he tries unsuccessfully to talk God out of the immense calling at the burning bush that Moses now feels he is no longer a qualified candidate for (Ex. 3:11).
Gideon objects to God’s calling for him to deliver Israel from the oppressive occupation by the Midianites, saying that he is the least even within his own family (Jud. 3:15)…and comes up with his proverbial “fleece-test” to confirm that he indeed is correctly understanding God’s intentions. As the foreigner Ruth follows her mother-in-law Naomi back to Naomi’s native country Israel, Ruth has no idea that she will capture the attention and affection of the wealthy, noble, and godly Boaz, and be included within the royal lineage that produced King David and culminated in the birth of Jesus Christ the eternal King and Savior.
Elijah complains to God that he is all alone in his opposition to the evil king and queen…Ahab and Jezebel (1 Ki. 19:14). Jeremiah protests to God that he is too young to be a prophet (Jer. 1:6). We detect in both Ezra and Nehemiah an underlying, suspenseful trepidation just below the surface…in their difficult callings to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, and to rebuild the temple.
Certainly Peter is utterly clueless as he goes out of the courtyard of Caiaphas to weep bitterly over his failure to courageously stand by Jesus during His night trial…which would possibly result in Peter occupying a fourth cross on Calvary the next day…not realizing that the crucifixion of the Son of God for the sins of the world was preordained before the creation of the universe…and that Peter’s role was not at that time to be a martyr for the faith, but to instead be a leader of the early church in Jerusalem…requiring a quality of courage and fidelity that Peter painfully discovered in the courtyard of Caiaphas that fateful night…that Peter did not possess on his own without the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8-12).
Certainly as Saul/Paul approached the city of Damascus to arrest Christians, he had no idea that he would soon become the foremost champion of the very faith that he started out opposing with such fearsome persecution. At that precise moment…before the supernatural light of Jesus Christ shined down from heaven upon him…Paul had no idea that he possessed the inner capacity to become the missionary evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world, to be able to compose the divinely inspired letters to the early Christian churches he helped form, to develop the love for other people that could write 1 Corinthians 13:4-8…now famous throughout the modern world…and to develop the people skills that would produce the intimate relationships revealed in Romans chapter 16.
All of these people…along with every person of faith recorded in the Bible…would testify that the higher plans that God had for them in life stretched them beyond anything they could or would have imagined (Psalm 23).
This difficulty component of biblical faith…that is a stretch beyond our ability to imagine or contrive…is an element that argues for the divine origin of the Bible. This is not armchair philosophy, because no human could or would invent it through contemplative imagination.