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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, March 10, 2017

Today’s Scripture 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)

Think of it, when Yahweh reassures Abram that he is indeed“his shield,” that is one monumental image. Our images of shields conjure up colorful movie scenes of soldiers wearing battle armor (Ben Hur, anyone?) and brandishing their shields for protection from all manner of foes.

On a far gentler note, it is reassuring to think of God as our “invisible shield,” especially when we are unsure of what steps to take in a given situation or when we ‘re feeling knocked down by one of the inevitable blows humans encounter on a regular basis. As this reading reminds us, “The outcome depends on God, and therefore is certain.”

As Christians, we are instructed that Gods knows what is in our hearts and minds . . . always. God is aware of all of our thoughts, be they of joy or sadness. I sometimes have difficulty comprehending the degree of God’s awesome powers (note to self: unlimited), and this situation is one that stretches my “mere mortal” way of trying to comprehend God’s magnificence. Yet when God reassures Abram in quite poetic terms that he will have a biological son (and many descendants!), Abram believes Yahweh’s promise—despite the fact that he and his wife, Sarah, are chronologically very old.

You might say Abram takes the ultimate leap of faith. And soon, he is richly rewarded for it.

Lord, may I become more like Abram. Instead of doubt, help me to display trust when encountering challenges, sadness, and painful obstacles. Remind me of the promise that God made to Abram about descendants to come: “Look now toward the sky, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Lord, when I look heavenward on your star-lit sky, help me envision each star as a sign of your love, your promise, your pledge—an indicator of blessings past, present, and still to come. Amen.

Written by Betsy Storm, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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