Today’s Coffee of Choice: Ebenezer’s House Coffee (Washington D.C.)
Today’s Scripture: 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
“What if I shot you?! Right here. Right now.”
The words flew out of his mouth at me with sudden, unexpected force. I was back in D.C. after a recent and very powerful conversion experience to Christianity. One of my Christian friends had contacted me about going and sharing my newfound freedom at a place in the inner city nicknamed “Needle Park.” It was a popular hangout for those who used, and wanted to score more, drugs.
When this particular incident happened, it was not a response to anything I had spoken or done. A stranger I had never seen before walked straight up and threatened me. Fortunately, the group I was working with to reach out in practical ways to the kids roaming in the park through the efforts of an organization called The House was standing right behind me. No one else said a word, but their presence helped as I talked the man in front of me out of his intentions. I don’t mean to make it seem like I was some kind of hero. As I look back on it, I think I was pretty dumb not to put my sprinting skills at that time to good use. However, I did pray for the man silently as I talked. I saw him as someone in tremendous pain and bondage who needed the freedom I had discovered was found in Christ.
The man’s threat on my life was abrupt. It was unexpected. It was shocking. Imagine this type of threat coming from a family member. Imagine having no idea of the murderous thoughts entertained by someone you trusted and loved. This was the situation Abel found himself in.
Abel was the brother of Cain. They both were the sons of Adam and Eve. Their roles in history were important. Abel was a shepherd. Cain tilled the soil. What was reaped of their efforts would have been relevant to everyone’s menu. There was trouble in what was left of paradise, however. Cain became extremely jealous. Abel found favor with God because he gave Him a sincere portion of the first and finest of what he raised. Apparently, Cain’s motives behind his own offerings were not as heartfelt. (Please read and study Genesis 4:4-5 for more on this.) His jealous heart turned murderous, and, after having his motives questioned by God himself (see Genesis 4:6-7), he made a choice that ripped their family apart. He killed his brother.
When Abel said yes to giving his best to God, he didn’t know the choice of someone he loved would prevent his yes from reaching its fullest potential. I like to believe his death was not in vain. Hebrews 11:4 confirms this for me.
Some of the people we find highlighted in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 were in the midst of some pretty crazy circumstances. In the above personal circumstance, the man involved fled before any damage was done to anyone. I never saw him again, and I ended up having some amazing conversations with a lot of young people later that day. (More on that next time.) Though my outcome was different, I have something in common with Abel. I said yes to God.
In the years since this event happened, some of the situations I’ve been in are more unbelievable than it was. Life after saying yes to God has been quite the ride, but I continue to put my faith in him. So did the rest of those we read about in Hebrews 11. If they can trust him with their circumstances, then I can as well. No matter what.
So can you.