When I read ancient texts like this one from Genesis, with details about the preparation of animal sacrifices offered to God, the distance between Abram’s time and mine seems immense. I confess that I prefer the verses about looking at the stars!
In the time since Abram’s life, we’ve come to understand more about our universe. We now know that the closest stars to our sun are between four and five light-years away—that is, when we see their light, we are perceiving light that emitted from those stars more than four years ago. And that’s just the nearest stars; some of the dots of light we see in the night sky are not individual stars but whole galaxies at such a distance that they appear to shine with a single light from millions of light-years away.
When the Lord tells Abram to “look toward heaven and count the stars,” I hear an invitation to broaden our view. And, knowing now what we do about this starlight, we understand that this view requires us to see a bigger picture in both space and time.
The promise Abram received from the Lord required him to see a vision that he would not get to experience in his life—to trust in a promise of descendants that would only become visible beyond the limits of Abram’s lifespan. Likewise, in faith we are invited to trust that our faithfulness to God—our persistent work for justice—shines like starlight with beauty we may not yet be able to perceive.
God of all time and space, I rest in trust that your promises for our world are bigger and more beautiful that I can imagine. Give me faith to persist in your work of love and justice, even though I will not get to see it all come together. Amen.
This week’s readings give witness to God’s ways 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 triumphed, 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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