Summary: How can we believe in the dark when things are not going as we think they should go for us?
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
Second Sunday of Lent
March 7, 2004
“Believing in the Dark”
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
INTRODUCTION: How do you reassure someone that your word is good? You might do it in several ways. You might say:
1. I cross my heart and hope to die if it is not true
2. You might give “Scout’s Honor”
3. You might meet with your lawyer and come up with a legal contract
4. or maybe reassure someone with a handshake.
There are probably a lot of ways that people reassure others that their word is good. Sometimes a promise is made and the promise is not kept--sometimes deliberately. In campaign promises one politician said, “No wonder Americans hate politics when year in and year out they hear promises made that won’t come true because they don’t even mean them.” The director of one President’s campaign said, “The President has kept all of the promises he INTENDED to keep.” In this world it seems that a lot of promises are not really taken seriously--just made to be broken. Then again some promises are in all good faith intended to be kept but for one reason or the other the parties involved can’t seem to live up to what they originally thought they could do.
In Chapter 12 when Abram was 75 years old, God made some promises to him; and in all good faith, Abram BELIEVED God and set out to do what God asked him to do. The promise involved the giving of land to his descendants, his name was to be great, and through him all people would be blessed.
Abram truly believed that God would make good on these promises. By this time years had gone by. There had been snippets of reassurance throughout the years, but so far the promise just hadn’t come to pass. In Genesis 13:16 the Lord said “all the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.” But after all these years, it hadn’t happened. How long should he wait? Had he been mistaken? Had he misunderstood?
STORY: A family moved into a new neighborhood and their son had already made new friends. Ten were invited to his birthday party. When the day arrived and he opened his presents, 8 of his friends had brought him a sweater.
Later a comment was made to the mother of one of the boys to explain about the multiplicity of sweaters in the hope that an exchange could be made.
She replied coolly, “Well, after all, you were the one who wrote on the invitation what you wanted me to buy.”
The little boy’s mother was stunned into silence; then she realized what had happened. Since the party was to be held in the basement which was always cool, she had written on each invitation, “Please have your child bring a sweater.”
Abram had done everything God had told him to do over the years. But now he seemed to be believing in the dark. It seemed like a failed dream. Part of the promise depended on someone else--God--who hadn’t fulfilled it. So far God hadn’t come through for him. Circumstances indicated no hope that God WOULD be faithful to His word. He was looking into the darkness and still trying to find a reason to believe God. The promises kept getting delayed. Maybe the Lord saw his faithfulness over the years and decided it was time to reaffirm the promises and to reassure him that He is there as much in the dark as He is when it is light.
But how do you keep believing when there is only one disappointment after another? You pray and there seems to be no answer. Your health doesn’t improve, your job doesn’t get any better, you try your hardest with your finances and you never get caught up. It’s tough to believe in the dark over a long period of time without giving up.
Let’s see what we can get out of today’s scripture.
1. The Word of the Lord Came: God broke into Abram’s darkness with a divine communication. He even called him by name. He came to him early in the morning in a vision and said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
You would have thought that Abram would have been elated over this news. God is saying, “I throw my shield around you. I have preserved you from the past dangers and also from future perils. Only be strong in your faith. Your reward will be great.”
Abram answered and said, “Yes, Lord, I know this, but that is not what concerns me. You have made promises of my descendants being as the dust of the earth, and I don’t even have ONE son. Lord don’t you realize that ‘a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush?’ I’m not concerned about all of these descendants. I’m only concerned about having ONE son. In fact, I’m going to have to leave my inheritance to my servant Elizer.”