Monday, November 2nd Genesis 15:1-6

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the LORD came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:1-6

Read these devotions very long and you will see that there is great importance and value in words. Plain and simple words that have the power to crawl beneath our skin and redefine our reality.

There are phrases that continue to evoke the best in us… “A government of the people, by the people, for the people…” ”The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” “Some men look and ask why, I ask ‘why not’…” “I have a dream today…”

Today’s passage brings to mind another such phrase that might not be so well known outside of recovery circles but it nonetheless means a lot to many people…”I can’t. God can. I think I’ll let him…” This is the short hand version of the first three steps.

God chose Abraham. From our point of view we can see a certain logic in that choice. Abraham was too old and a very unlikely candidate – which means that anything good that happens HAS to be God’s work, no confusion there. Abraham was a foreigner, an outsider, an Aramean – which opens the door to one of the hardest lessons human beings will ever have to learn, a lesson which must be taught to every generation anew, and that is that there are no outsiders, no foreigners, no strangers, in the Kingdom of God.

We can see the logic from our point of view, but clearly no one in Abraham’s time would have seen it, much less Abraham himself. He was baffled, troubled and uncertain. He didn’t see how it could happen. All he could see was why not.

Well, that’s not quite all he could see…

Despite all evidence to the contrary, over against every bit of common sense and human understanding he possessed, Abraham was willing to be willing. He was willing to trust. The text says “he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

That line is another of the great lines in human history. It helped Paul make sense of how it is that God can accept Gentiles born outside of the law. It helped Martin Luther stand up against the resistant forces of the Roman Catholic Church. It opens the door to a relationship with God that begins with faith and continues through the response of good and loving works rather than seeking godliness through our good works.

For me, it makes the faith very simple. I can’t. God can. I think I’ll let him.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, in every age, in so many different ways, you send your encouragement into our lives through the power of words. You reach into our spirits as you reached into Abraham’s with the vision of the stars, and you birth the mysterious ability and hunger to trust you. To believe you. And to act on that belief. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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