Summary: God gives us dreams of his big plans for us - but as time goes on, we feel we have to "be realistic" - The lesson from Abraham: don't. Just keep trusting the God for whom nothing is impossible.
Sermon on Genesis 15
"Don't settle for Plan B: Go for Plan A--Braham"
A representative of the gas company phoned the owner of an expensive new home to make an appointment for the service man to come in and light the pilot lights and adjust the furnace.
The owner said that was OK, but he wanted to make sure he was there, because if he wasn’t the service man would never get the furnace going.
The caller insisted that his people were well trained and would have no trouble.
"You don’t understand," the owner said, "When your man tries to adjust the furnace he’ll go out of his mind. The thermostat in the entry hall is a dummy. It’s there for my wife to play with. Only I know where the real one is hidden.”
There have been times in my life when I felt that somebody had hidden the thermostat from me.
Times when I was faced with some type of crisis in my life
Times when ALL the plans I’d made turned to dust in my hands
And no matter what I did to try to resolve the problem – nothing worked.
Everywhere I turned… I was faced with a brick wall, and I found myself powerless – and I hate being powerless.
Have you ever felt like that? (get people to raise hands) Good… I don’t feel so bad now.
[illustration from a sermon by Jeff Strite on this site]
That was how Abraham felt at the beginning of our reading. You'll have had times in your lives when you started with big dreams - when you started your first job perhaps and you had all sorts ambitions about what you might achieve and where you might end up.
Well back in Genesis Chapter 12, Abraham started with big dreams. He followed God's call to leave Ur of the Chaldees and head for the promised land - and it was going to be wonderful.
And it hasn't been all bad. In the intervening chapters Abraham has military success. He has had financial success. He has had what you might call career success.
BUT it hasn't been all good either. He visits Egypt, end up lying to save his skin, gets caught out, and looks VERY stupid. He comes home - and rows with his nephew Lot - and they end up having to go their own ways because they can't live together. And worst of all - he has no child.
Abraham is not young (shake head). And everything he has worked for, everything he has struggled for - what will happen to it? You can't take it with you....
Perhaps you started with great hopes - whether it's in the ministry you do in church - or in the voluntary work you do in the local community - or in your family life - or in the work you are paid to do - You started with great hopes.
And a few years down the line, a voice in your head says "maybe now I should start to be a bit more realistic". It is not that necessarily everything has gone dreadfully wrong - though it may have done. But it hasn't lived up to it's expectations. so you start to think you need a plan B. You start to think you need to settle for second best.
As we start today's reading Abraham is thinking "I need to be realistic - I need a plan B". So he begins writing his will to leave everything to to Eliezar, one of his servants. He is cross with God for leading him up the garden path. But, now is the time to start being realistic. An old man like Abraham isn't going to have a child - so now is the time to think of plan B.
Well God does not want us to settle for plan B.
I think it was G K Chesterton who said
"The reasonable man seeks to adjust his expectations to the way the world is. The unreasonable man seeks to adjust the world to the way he thinks it should be. All change comes as a result of unreasonable people"
It is so easy for us to think we have to limit our expectations. Not to hope to high. Not to dream dreams. To live as people would say "in the real world". But that was not God's plan for Abraham, and that is not God's plan for us.
Let me illustrate this
Back in the 1930's there was once a student called George Danzig. Being a typical student, he was late for his lecture. The maths professor had written two problems on the blackboard. Danzig thought they were the homework assignment. It was the most difficult homework assignment he’d ever encountered. Night after night he tried solving the two problems. It took him nearly a week to finally figure them out. He finally turned in his assignment and thought he’d get a bad grade because it took so long.