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Monday, November 16, 2015

Today’s Reading |  Genesis 15:1–6

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. (NRSV)

Sometimes reading scripture can be discouraging. We get these little snippets—whether it’s in a devotion or a lesson in church—and it seems like biblical characters, especially giants like the Genesis patriarchs, get it right so often. God calls, Abram answers, God shows him the sky, Abram believes. Score! So easy.

But that’s not how faith works, not for the “giants” and not for us. Faith is a one-step-forward, three-steps-backward proposition. We’ve got to be in it for the long haul.

That’s one of the things this passage tells me. Abram-then-Abraham is the subject of ten chapters in Genesis (one-fifth of the book, more or less), and the events told in those chapters are just the “big” moments, not the ordinary Mondays. We don’t hear about those: the days when Abram didn’t trust so well or when he slept through the vision or when fear and doubt got the better of him. They happened, though; he was human. Like us.

Faith is gradual and unfolding, a process. Over a lifetime we become who God intends us to be. Though this story is a “win” for him, Abram is still his old self. He won’t become Abraham for another two chapters! Faith demands taking the stuff of our lives—the childlessness or the family quarrels or the confusion or whatever our current circumstances are—to God again and again, as authentically and honestly as we can, and then being still, still enough to listen. Hopefully more often than not we will hear how those circumstances are calling us: where we are to go, what we are to do, who we are to be. Now and in the future.

God of the covenant, who shows us what faithfulness looks and sounds like, help me choose to believe. Whether this Monday is regular or extraordinary, remind me to bring it to you so that I may see whatever happens in it in the light of your will. Please be patient with my uneven and inconsistent progress; help me to be patient, too. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator,
Center for Life and Learning

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