Today’s reading is Genesis 16-18, and it’s kind of a funny part of scripture. Some might say laughable—like Abraham and Sarah would say that. Why? Because they laughed at God’s promise that they would have a child at such an old age. But God was totally serious.
He had told them before that Abraham would be the father of many nations, his descendants would be as many as the stars and also that he would have a son. Abraham believed him in chapter 15, but I think when God revealed that Sarah would be the one who bore him a son he just couldn’t believe it. She was well past childbearing years. She was 90 years old for goodness sake! Maybe I’m off, but I think when most women hit their 40’s they’re about done with the whole childbearing thing, but imagine being 90. She would be 108 by the time he was starting college! She laughed at the words “Sarah your wife will have a son” (Genesis 18:10). Honestly, I think I might laugh a little, too.
What I think I take away from this passage is that sometimes—maybe I could even say frequently—God’s plans make no sense to the world. This promise of a son certainly doesn’t make sense. If this were happening now, I wonder if Abraham and Sarah would have consulted a doctor to confirm their suspicions. The doctor would almost certainly be included in the laughing because they would probably say it’s not at all biologically possible. Nevertheless, I count about five times that Abraham is told by God that he will have a son with Sarah.
God had a plan from the very beginning of the world—He’s omniscient, He knows exactly how everything plays out. So, we can rest on the fact that when He tells us something is going to happen it’s going to happen.
At the same time, the things He calls us to, even in the ‘little’ things where He calls us to be obedient and different from the world, don’t make sense to the world. One example is where He tells us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-8). What? I think any person can agree that being respectful to everyone is a good goal to have, but who wants to give up being just a little spiteful and bitter towards someone who really ‘deserves it?’ and love them instead? Nope. Worldly ‘logic’ says love people who love you, and just try not to physically harm the people who hate you. 1 Corinthians 2:14 sort of sums this up: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
I don’t say this to sound like I’m saying I’m better than someone who is not a Christian. But, there are so many times where my life will (I hope and pray by the grace of God) look different than a lost person’s life. Sometimes it won’t make sense. I think a lot of times it seems restrictive, and maybe it is a little ‘restrictive,’ but I can truthfully say that when I live that life I’m trading the happiness of the world for an eternal joy and deeper fellowship with my Creator and Heavenly Father.
God uses the foolish things to shame the wise (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). He probably completely dumbfounded Abraham’s neighbors when baby Isaac arrived. But that’s a testament to the awesome power of God! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can really live the life God calls us to and blend in with this world. He essentially calls us to be weird! I mean, He doesn’t phrase it like that, but He calls us to be separate from the world (Romans 12: 1-2).
Why would we ever want to live a life of constantly chasing little ‘happiness’ that does not last, trading down from an abundant ‘different’ life (John 10:10)? I think it comes down to us getting caught up in worldly ‘logic.’ I know Abraham and Sarah did at first. They turned to Hagar instead of trusting God because what God was promising didn’t really make sense with what the world says. Doubting God is a part of growing in your faith. What helps us grow instead of hurting us is, when we experience this doubt, searching scripture for who God has proven Himself to be. When we do this instead of letting our doubts accumulate and begin to overwhelm us, it gets a little easier to trust that He knows what He is talking about even when we don’t.
I think another one thing I need to clarify is that this kind of trust isn’t exactly ‘blind.’ Our faith shouldn’t be like jumping off a cliff and saying ‘God’s got this’ (Matthew 4:5-7). I don’t think that’s what He calls us to do. Everything He calls us to lines up with scripture. Maybe you see an opportunity where God seems to have directed your heart, and it may meet the criteria of being something ‘weird’ that you will be taking a ‘step of faith with,’ but it will always be aligned with scripture. (Not to mention we need to make those big decisions after prayerful consideration where we are seeking God’s will above our own desires).
My prayer is that we take Abraham’s life as an example to be more trusting when it comes to the way God calls us to live, as well as in the more ‘extraordinary’ things God calls us to. Sometimes it may seem laughable compared to the ‘logic’ of this world, it may seem too restrictive, or just plain dumb to some people. But, I hope that in those moments where we begin to doubt that we would look to who God has proven Himself to be and to the lives of others like Abraham, Noah, Esther, Paul, etc. and we would keep pressing on towards Him (Philippians 3:14).