Paul roots us firmly in our God-given identities: We are God’s children, no exceptions; heirs to God’s promises throughout the generations as those who have been given the gift of faith.
With the old lines of division removed, what will we do with such freedom? Will we claim the inheritance of a tradition that promises life? Or will we scramble in fear, clambering for safety in rules and laws?
Faith comes with the gift of hope. It flickers at the edge of these questions and invites us to claim it. Hope, not forced, but offered. Hope as an invitation, not a demand. Paul writes, “But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian.” This freedom offers comfort in some ways. But it also requires us to manage our own fears, to find the tenuous balance between fear and hope that all people of faith seek.
We know that we will not do this perfectly. Sometimes fear will send us running. But faith comes bubbling up; whether in silence or in remembering, in restoration or in retelling, hope remains. We need only master the fear that keeps us from gripping this gift of faith with everything we have and from allowing all markers of status to fall away as we trust that our identity in Christ is enough. We will be fed, we will be given water, we will be given direction, we will be restored, we will be sent back to tell our stories. This is the way of faith as it always has been and always will be.
God of Abraham, Elijah, Jesus, and the Gerasene man, thank you for the gift of faith. Help me to cling to it more fully from today onward. Amen.
The fact that we trust in God does not guarantee that life will be easy. Believers suffer discouragement as well. Elijah is a powerful prophet of God who faces profound discouragement. He looks around and sees faithlessness and desolation, as does the psalmist wrestling with his own sense of despair. In both cases the person’s spirit is revived—by divine visitation to Elijah and by the psalmist’s self-talk about the truth of God’s faithfulness. The New Testament readings take us in a different direction. Paul speaks of the freedom we have when we are in Christ, heirs to all of God’s promises. The Gospel writer tells of another kind of freedom, the freedom experienced by a man delivered from demon possession.
Read 1 Kings 19:1-15a. Recall a time you ran to a silent place. How did God send you back into the world?
Read Psalm 42. The author asks us to imagine the words of this psalm coming from the mouth of Elijah and the Gerasene man. Consider how these words might be yours as well.
Read Galatians 3:23-29. How does your faith in Christ help you to embrace the freedom that comes from lack of division rather than to flee in fear?
Read Luke 8:26-39. What true story do you have to tell to the world of what Jesus has done for you?
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