“God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
When we can’t comprehend, when it just seems to go against everything we think we know it is easy to dismiss God and His plan for us. In a very real sense it’s simpler to just laugh it off, to shrug it off as if it were some sort of joke or to try and attribute our own meaning according to our own understanding to it.
So it was for Abraham…
Once Abram, God, just a few short verses ago, appeared before him, and made His covenant with him, saying, “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:6) Now He tells the 100-year-old man that his wife, ten years younger than him, will be known as Sarah, and that the 90-year-old woman will bear him a son. Even by the standards and the practices of our modern medicine, that seems impossible. Imagine then what it was like for a man who lived in a society thousands of years before fertility clinics and doctors, in an age where to live to a 90 or 100 well exceeded the average lifespan of an average individual. His reaction to the words of the Lord couldn’t be all that surprising even as he fell to the ground, laughing even at the prospect that his wife, after almost a century of marriage, would have a son. In many senses he had to have been resolved to the fact that Ishmael, his child by the slave Hagar, was to be the heir that God had promised him.
Yet God, He is not the God of the easy or the simple. As we are reminded in the prayer of Jeremiah, “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17) This is the God who drew the light out of the darkness. He is the God who formed all that lives, breathing air into their lungs. He is the God who, in every struggle, in every danger, walked beside Abram, protecting and guiding him, giving so freely unto him as He added to his wealth and kept him from all harm. He is not limited by what we think we know, or what we believe we understand nor is He constrained by the way that we think the world around us is. The Great Architect of the Universe nothing is beyond His power or His control. As Christ Himself reminds us in St. Matthew’s Gospel, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mathew 19:26)
You see, our Heavenly Father, He isn’t bound by the rules or the laws of time and space. He isn’t governed by the laws of men, nor is He confined by our understanding. Whatever it is that we think we know, whatever wisdom it is that we somehow believe lies in our grasp it is ultimately nothing. It’s not even a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the wisdom, the knowledge and the understand of the Lord God Almighty.
This should be a humbling realization for us as we look to our Heavenly Father. It should remind us of the power, glory and grace of the God who has fearfully and wonderfully created us in love and continues daily to strengthen and preserve us in His love, giving freely to us even unto our salvation through Christ Jesus and His encompassing sacrifice. Yet, instead, we seek to confine Him, we seek to box Him in, shrugging off His promises, even laughing at them when we can’t begin to fathom what they mean or how they could come to pass.
What we need to remember though is the words found in Isaiah ‘“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”’ (Isaiah 55:8-9) Just because we don’t understand how it could possibly happen, just because it is more than we expect possible, just because it hasn’t happened yet and we think that time is running out or has run out, doesn’t make it any less true. God moves through our lives and in our lives how He sees fit, not how we try to make Him fit. As He calls us, as He promises us so He moves us.
That is then the remarkable thing about Abraham as he laid hold of God’s word. We see it in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Roman’s where we read that, despite whatever initial reaction He might have had, He believed, He trusted in the Lord in faith and hope. However outlandish the promise may have seemed, He knew His Heavenly Father to be true. “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:19-21) That was, above all else, His righteousness, not any work he might perform to try and make the promise come true, more than any earthly act he could do to make it happen.
So then it should be with us dear brothers and sisters. Whatever understanding we believe we have of how the world has to be must be secondary to that of God’s plan for us. We cannot confine God to the strict parameters of what we believe to be possible or impossible, because in the moment that we do we create a stagnant, unmoving faith within us that is more reliant on man than it is on God and His divine love for us. When that happens we forsake the peace and hope that He has for us for something less splendid, something less miraculous as we are guided down a narrow path of narrow limitations that seek to destroy the beauty and the majesty of God’s unending love for us.
Yet our Heavenly Father, He intends more for us, so much more as He moves in and through our lives, weaving Himself through to lift us to places beyond that which we could have ever reached on our own or by our own power. He takes us by the hand, and He leads us through the darkness of skepticism, fear and doubt, through the fog of our own plans and our own designs to see clearly something better, something more for us. It just means trusting in Him, putting your faith in Him knowing that His ways are not our ways and His knowledge, His understanding far exceeds our ability to comprehend. It means putting ourselves aside, and walking in His righteousness, knowing that if He would not even withhold His only begotten Son from us in the love that He has for us, what plan, what promise wouldn’t he keep, what plan, what promise wouldn’t he fulfil for us.
Yes, God’s divine will, His divine plan for our lives may not fit with what we know of the world or the way that see it and understand it to be. That doesn’t make it any less true. It just makes it all the more miraculous, all the more awe inspiring and wondrous when He moves through our lives according to the promises that He has made. In that we realize there is more then to this world than the dust of our feet and the air that fills our lungs, there is more than what we see and hear as He wipes the scales from our eyes that we might behold the glory of His splendor as it surrounds us in His mercy and love for us.
Now may the peace of the Lord, that peace that transcends all human understanding, knowledge and wisdom, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus even unto life everlasting, Amen.