Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Like It or Not, We All Live by Faith

[31] And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
[32] And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.

[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
[2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
[3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
[4] So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

The first four verses of Genesis 12 are a favorite of preachers everywhere. Abraham, the Father of Faith, obeyed the call of God, leaving his home for nothing but a promise from a God he had never seen. However, these verses are preceded by the last two verses of Genesis 11. Evidently, Terah, Abraham’s father started out on the same path, but decided things were pretty comfortable in Haran, a town somewhere up in modern Turkey. He never saw the Promised Land. Instead he settled for a place that means “parched” in Hebrew. Hmmm.

I am getting ready to make another one of those big jumps, my second in a year. After retiring in January, I will be moving to another city in a few days. Unlike Abraham, I know where I am going to live. Still, after almost 26 years of living in the same house in the same little town, this is both exciting and scary.

We all make big jumps from time to time. We choose a school, or the military, or our first full time job when we leave high school. We get married (a really big dangerous decision). We buy our first home, usually with a 30 year mortgage. Who can say what will happen over the next 30 years? Yet we sign the paper like we know the future. We start a family, not knowing what kind of life our children will live to experience. Talk about faith!

Whenever we change direction, we are making a faith decision. If you buy a house or choose to invest in a stock, you are making a faith decision. Whenever you change jobs or go after another degree you are making a faith decision that you are headed for a better land.

I know what you are going to say, “This is not faith. I have studied the problem and through the application of logic to the facts I have made this decision.” Yea, over the course of three years my wife and I scoped out potential retirement sites. We can safely say SC is cheaper and warmer than MD. The taxes are much lower. We still have friends and family in the area. We are trading a 40 year old track home for something that is brand new and nicer. With a little bit of luck, the trade will leave me with a good bit of cash in my pocket. Still, I don’t know what the future will hold. I won’t know if this is a good decision or a bad decision until it is time for me to go home to place not made by hands, a place where I can rest.

Don’t kid yourself. Your crystal ball can’t be trusted. You don’t know the future. You can’t time the market. So tell me what will be the best investment for the next ten years? Cash? Gold? Stocks? Real Estate? Bonds? We choose an investment discipline that matches our personality, trusting that over time a well balanced portfolio, judiciously maintained using time tested rules will pan out.

So where is your faith? Most of us (including me) put a great deal of faith in our own abilities. However, I know that statistically I am already past my best years for making complex financial decisions. We peak in our middle 50s. Of course our bodies begin to betray us in our middle 30s. Put your faith in others? You will be disappointed. Those around you are pretty much like you. I don’t need to tell you about your weaknesses and limitations. You already know all about those problems.

So take a few minutes today, ask yourself, “Where is my faith? What is it that sustains me when everything is falling apart?” If you have never needed to ask yourself those questions, I can guarantee you that day will come. It is better to know the answer in advance.

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