Summary: Nothing is impossible with God.
This past week during some devotional reading, I read an excerpt from one of Fredrick Buechner’s books entitled, Peculiar Treasures: A Biblical Who’s Who and one of the passages that he addresses in the book is our main passage of this morning.
"Quantitatively speaking, you don’t find all that much laughter in the Bible,” he says, “but qualitatively, there’s nothing quite like it to be found anywhere else. There are a couple of chapters in the book of Genesis that positively shake with it.”
“Sarah was never going to see ninety again, and Abraham had already hit one hundred, and when the angel told them that the stork was on its way at last, they almost collapsed. Abraham laughed "till he fell on his face," and Sarah stood cackling behind the tent door so the angel wouldn’t think that she was being rude as the tears streamed down her cheeks. When the baby finally came, they even called him Laughter-which is what Isaac means in Hebrew-because obviously no other name would do."
He concludes, "Sarah and her husband had plenty of hard knocks in their time, and there were plenty more of them still to come, but at that moment when the angel told them they’d better start dipping into their old age pensions for cash to build a nursery, the reason they laughed was that it suddenly dawned on them that the wildest dreams they’d ever had hadn’t been half wild enough." (Italics mine).
The laughter of Abraham and Sarah was the laughter of disbelief. What was, maybe still is, your wildest dream? Is it one that is still very personal to you and you share it very rarely because . . . people might laugh?
24 years have gone by since Abram and Sarai, now known as Abraham and Sarah, were directed by God to move to a place where their descendants would become as numerous as the stars. 24 years of travel and hard work and frustration and fear and discouragement have come and gone since they heard the word from God, "you are going to become parents of a great nation." 24 years have come and gone and still no kid.
So when they hear, "this time next year I will return and Sarah will have a son," they laugh a laugh of disbelief. "Yeah right, I have heard that one before."
But, one statement from these heavenly visitors, and personally I think it was the Lord Himself, one statement is made that points to a deeper truth that not just Abraham and Sarah but all of us often like to believe but often have trouble trusting that it is true, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"
One Christmas several years ago, my nephew received two remote control cars for Christmas. Both happen to run on the same frequency. So Uncle Jim thought that he would have a little fun with Alex.
Very carefully I took the second remote and placed it behind my back and stood behind Alex. And when he stopped controlling the one item that was turned on, I pushed the button on the second controller and the object began to move again.
Alex’s eyes about popped out of his head. "What’s going on Alex?" someone asked. "I don’t know," was his stunned reply, "it must be my imagination."
After 24 years perhaps Abraham and Sarah were thinking that children were nothing more than imaginative or wishful thinking. "But, nothing is too hard for the Lord."
A popular song of the 1960’s asked the question, "Do You Believe In Magic?" Many people do. But this morning we have sung "It Took A Miracle" and will sing in a few moments, "I Believe In Miracles."
Our text says, "Sarah was long past the age of having children." She asks herself out loud, "How could a worn-out woman like me have a baby?"
It would not be magic or imagination that would bring Isaac to Abraham and Sarah. It would be a miracle - an act of God!
Miracles. What comes to mind when you hear the word "miracles?" What kind of emotions well up within you?
It is an emotional word. It creates emotional intensity because when we speak of miracles we often touch on very sensitive areas of hopes and dreams and desires that grow out of the hard and painful areas of our lives just like Abraham and Sarah.
In a recent sermon, Dr Maxine Dunham, President of Asbury Theological Seminary quoted the late Dr Julian McPheeters, the first president of ATS in regard to five miracles of healing. Because other kinds of miracles take place I choose to call them five kinds of miracles. I am only mentioning three types this morning, however. (From the sermon, Some Healing is Up to You Dr. Maxie D. Dunnam and published in Volumes 112 and 113, Numbers 4 and 1 of the Asbury Herald).