Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars — if indeed you can count them.” The he said to him, “so shall your offspring be.” NIV
This is the first verse that comes up if you type the word “worry” into Bible Gateway.com and choose “The Message.”
I’ve done that search before and I’ve seen this verse, but, it did not hit me until this morning how important this verse is in the context of this project.
Abraham’s life has not turned out as he expected. Life has not followed Abraham’s plan. He planned to have children. He wanted to be a father and, no doubt, a grandfather. Now, he and his wife are quite old and the time for having children, he thinks, has passed them by.
When he contemplates what that means in his own society, it appears that he is devastated. In the verses just before this one, he has given up all hope of a child and is considering leaving his fortune to one of his servants. “Then God’s message came, ‘Don’t worry, he won’t be your heir, a man from your body will be your heir.'” MSG
God had a plan for Abraham. In verse 5, God says, “You’re going to have a big family, Abram!” MSG
I love the rest of Abraham’s story. He and Sarah don’t trust that God’s plan will be achieved, so, they take matters into their own hands and Abraham produces a son from his own body — with Sarah’s maid.
But, that’s still not what God wanted. Later in the story, Sarah, who is well past child bearing age, is miraculously blessed with a son, Isaac. Isaac is the father of Jacob and Esau, and Jacob fathers 12 sons, who become the 12 tribes of Israel. God had a plan and he continued to work it, despite Abraham’s doubts and even interference. God’s perfect plan for Abraham’s life was achieved.
Not being an older man with unfulfilled aspirations of fatherhood, I’ve never much identified with Abraham … until this morning.
I had a plan for my life. I’ve had several, actually. None of them have worked out the way I envisioned them. For a certain personality type, one that I’m seeing I must share with Abraham, that’s pretty frustrating. We are the kids who loved the story, “The Little Engine that Could.” We’re the ones who saw ourselves as the ant in the song about the rubber tree.
As much as he might have wanted dozens of little Abrahams, he could not have them, just like I often am unable to achieve the things I want or that I plan for myself. In times like these, it is tempting to give up … to stop trying … to take Abraham’s attitude. “Let’s just write the will and formalize giving everything to the servant … he’s going to get it anyway, so why not at least give HIM some certainty of what is to come?”
But, that’s not what God says. God takes Abraham outside and tells him to look up at the stars. He tells him to keep dreaming of the future that he wants for himself, and then, He goes one step further and tells Abraham that He will fulfill his dream.
Worries over things that you cannot control are not eradicated by giving up on your dreams or plans. The only true antidote for worry is to trust in the One True God, who has your best interest at heart, who is not bound by time, who sent his son to die for you and who has a very definite plan for your life. You cannot see it, you are not meant to … sometimes I think that one of the rewards that we will most cherish in heaven is that we will finally, finally understand the plan.
That’s what I’ll think about today.