Summary: Abraham questioned God’s plan to give a child to him when he was 100 years old, even as Mary wondered about God’s plan to give her a son when she was a virgin.
December 9, 2001 Heb. 11:11-12; Gen. 15-16
“How can this be?”
Do you know what the three most feared words at Christmas time are? “Some assembly required”. Oh, there are lots of good words at Christmas. Words like “Joy to the world”, “Merry Christmas”, “50% off sale”, and “Thank you”. But none of those can overcome the fear and apprehension that every dad and many mothers feel when they see those horrendous words on the boxes that their children’s presents have come in. For those words mean that inside the box, along with that wonderful present, will be…instructions!
Last year, on Christmas Eve night, after the kids had gone to bed, I spent several hours experiencing the joy of instructions. Tammy and I had bought Ben a foosball game. (That’s a table-top soccer game for those of you who don’t know.) We knew that if we let Ben open his present the next morning with the game still in the box, he would be bugging us and pestering us the whole time that we were putting it together. So we decided to put it together ahead of time. Have you ever noticed that the portions of the instructions that are the shortest and are supposedly supposed to be the easiest turn out to be those things that could almost make a preacher cuss? Everything was going along fine in this process until it came time to put in the playing field. That’s the board that has all the soccer field markings and that the ball rolls around on. This board had slats that it had to go into on all four walls of the table. I tried doing this by myself, but every time that I would get the board into the proper slat on one side, it would pop out on the other side. What was worse was that each corner of the playing field was supposed to be a little higher than the rest of the board to prevent the ball from getting stuck in the corner. I worked and worked and worked to get it in…with no success. I was getting totally frustrated. So I called for the professional. I called for Tammy. Piece of advice – never call your wife into a frustrating situation when you are already at your limit. Tammy and I almost had a fight on Christmas Eve night. In spite of our frustration, we worked together to get it done. Tammy held one side in while I worked on the other. She pushed and I pulled, and finally we got it in. Then quickly, I put in some screws to hold it all in place. With that portion of the task completed, we turned the table back over to see how our handiwork looked. It was then that I discovered that I had put some of the players in the wrong positions. I hadn’t followed the instructions completely. The only possible way of correcting my error was to take the whole thing back apart, switch the players around and go through that whole process all over again. Guess what we decided to do – leave it! What does it really matter if some of the players are facing the wrong direction and if some of the players that are supposed to be on the same team are the wrong color? It will still work. Ben wanted a foosball table. Now he had one. Did it really matter that it was put together a little bit wrong?
Many of us ask a similar question when it comes to our relationship with God. What does it really matter how I do things for God? Isn’t what I do for God more important than how I do it?
If you get the how wrong in putting presents together, what you got doesn’t really matter. Buying a bike (the “what”) for your son won’t impress him or make him happy if he can’t ride it because you put it together wrong (the “how”).
Talk about the promises made to Abram. (Genesis 12)
The fulfillment of these promises rested on Abraham having a son.
Abraham had a choice to make – believe God or not believe God. Abraham chose to believe God, and the Bible says that that faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness (Gen. 15:6).
How many of your children know at least one thing that they are getting for Christmas? How do they know? Because it is what you, or grandma and grandpa or some other relative has promised to them. They base their confidence of getting that gift on their understanding that you or whoever it is that promised that gift always keeps their promises. That may be a safe bet, and it may not be.
I make all kinds of promises. Sometimes I fulfill them, and I must admit, sometimes, I do not. My children and my wife have a right to be a little skeptical when they hear me make a promise. I am not 100% trustworthy when it comes to my promises.