He had made a lot of enemies as a simple herdsman. He was a newbie to this land and didn’t have the connections or vast wealth to measure up to the rulers of the warring cities and clans nearby. Yet somehow, he had managed to overcome an army with his ragtag band of servants and rescue his nephew, as well as the captives from one of the most powerful towns. Their king offered him the spoil. Finally, he could achieve the connections and wealth in one simple move. But he said no to the king and returned to the simple life.
Every day, he’d wake up to sit in the tent door and handle the problems of his herds.Then go to sleep wearily next to an old, barren wife as the desert wind beat against their tent. But now sleep came with difficulty. He sat awake for hours, fearful for his safety. For in his victory, he had developed some enemies.
Then came the vision and the voice.
“Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
He scoffed. What reward? He had served faithfully but gotten nothing in return – not even the one simple thing he wanted: an heir.
“O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”
What happened to the promises He had made?
But the voice brought him outside. He fell into the sand, face up against a domed canopy of billions of stars. Like an army carrying torches they stretched across the sky. Some were in bands with millions of their brethren. Others shone brighter, standing out from the sea of sparkles.
“Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.”
Ha! Not even all his almost-hundred years would suffice to count them all. Just to prove the point, he started counting. And lost track after 27 on one tiny corner of the black canvas. It was hard to count when the voice spoke crazy truth:
“So shall your offspring be.”
What!? When he was well-past the time of childbearing – and so was his wife! They couldn’t even manage to have one child, much less give birth to myriads of offspring.
But one would suffice. And if God could make these stars, then He could make a barren womb bear. He could give a son.
So Abram made a simple, but history-changing choice…
And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. -Gen. 15:6
God hasn’t stopped being ridiculous in His promises. So we can’t stop being ridiculous in our faith.
This story is never seen with the history-bending gravitas it deserves, and I hope the narrative put it in perspective. I know it spoke to me when I heard it preached on today.
I also know that I doubted God this week. I thought it was impossible for him to change the hearts of apathetic teenagers. I thought it was impossible for them to become serious about their faith. And I was right – it was impossible…for me! I can’t change my own soul, much less someone else’s.
But the Spirit can…and did this week! Jesus saves. I don’t.
I’ve learned it’s really dumb to doubt God. And so, in the words of a missionary, I want to choose the words of God rather than the words of fear.