Abram is old and childless; his wife, Sarai, is well beyond childbearing age. Abram cannot believe that his own child will be his heir and that his descendants will outnumber the stars. Everything Abram knows—about himself, about his circumstances, and about the way things work—makes God’s promise seem utterly impossible. Yet Abram believes God so, no matter how skeptically, he can take the next step forward into a future that he cannot envision.
Virginia McLaurin was born in South Carolina in 1909 when Howard Taft was the twenty-seventh president of the United States. She lived through decades of segregation, the terror of lynchings, and other kinds of racial violence. She was not granted the right to vote until 1965 at the age of fifty six. Virginia experienced and witnessed the effects of individual and institutional racism.
In 2016, seventeen presidents later, at the age of 106, something occurred that Virginia had every reason to believe was impossible. She received a special invitation from the White House to meet privately with Barack Obama, the first African-American to be elected president of the United States, and with First Lady Michelle Obama. The images of that joyful encounter—of Virginia’s exuberance and of Virginia dancing with the Obamas—are unforgettable.
Do current realities in your life and in the world cause you to question the possibility of a peaceful and sustainable planet and world order? Can you take one small, perhaps skeptical, hopeful step forward toward a future that seems impossible?
God of Abram and Virginia, help us! Help us to move forward with faith toward a future that we cannot yet envision. Amen.
This week’s readings give witness to the ways of God and provide confidence and hope in our faith. In Genesis we read of God’s promise to Abram, a promise that seems very unlikely to a man with no children. But God seals the covenant, and the story later shows that God never breaks God’s promises. The psalmist even while mired in conflict praises God for being his light, his salvation, his stronghold. The psalmist longs to be in God’s presence forever, a desire that can inspire all of us as believers. Paul says that in the future reality, we will no longer experience resistance from those who oppose God. One day Christ will fully transform us to our citizenship in heaven. Jesus himself experienced resistance even in Jerusalem, yet he ultimately triumphs, as will all those who trust in God.
Read Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18. How can you take a step forward in the dark toward God’s seemingly impossible promises for the future?
Read Psalm 27. Recall a time when you waited in the shadows of your life. What did you learn about God’s provision during this time?
Read Philippians 3:17–4:1. How do you live in the paradox of standing firm in faith by being vulnerable?
Read Luke 13:31-35. When have you been unwilling to accept love? How can you comprehend the depth and yearning of God’s love for you?
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