I can’t remember exactly where I read the illustration of the African impala, but it bears repenting entering into this new year. These impala’s of southern and eastern Africa are amazing leapers. They can jump to a height of over 10 feet. One leap can cover a distance greater than 30 feet. Yet these incredible animals can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3‑foot high wall. You see, impalas will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall.
This is a wise and conservative approach to life. Do not jump if you cannot see where your feet will fall. We have the old saying, “Look before you leap.”
However in contrast to the life of faith described in Hebrews chapter 11 is pretty incredible: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” How’s that for a working definition of faith? “Sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” That’s the very opposite of “look before you leap.”
Faith is jumping without being able to see where our feet will fall.
Remember the story of the little boy on the second floor of a burning building. “Jump!” his father calls out to him. “I will catch you.” The little boy cries out timidly, “But, father, I can’t see you.”
And his father says, “Yes, but I can see you.”
That is the kind of faith that the writer of Hebrews is commending. And beginning with the eighth verse he gives examples of such faith: “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.”
As we leap into 2011, we can be confident that God is going catch us!