In the first session of my first college English class, my professor passed around a list of words. Some were familiar; many weren’t. Without any explanation or direction, we each had to pick a word from the list. A couple of weeks later, we learned that what the teacher had showed us was a list of various forms of writing, and the word that we’d ignorantly chosen that first day became our project for the semester. It would be the subject of our final grade. I’d chosen picture books, but I can’t draw well. My friend Kayla chose songs, but she can’t read or write music. Ryan liked the look of the word “villanelle,” which turned out to be a highly structured nineteen-line poem. Because none of us could make an informed choice, some people ended up profoundly disadvantaged. We all felt frustrated, even angry.
I wonder if Abram, Sarai, and Hagar feel toward God a bit of what we felt toward our professor. After all, it’s been decades since God first promised to turn Abram into a great nation. Abram and Sarai repeatedly tried to bring about God’s impossible promise during that time, with God correcting them again and again. And only now does God finally reveal the details of their covenant relationship. I’d have an exasperated huff or an eye roll in me, for sure.
Regardless of whether they feel any frustration with God as the details begin to flow, Abram and Sarai begin this new stage of their lives with new names and the promise of great joy to come. That, after many years of darkness and uncertainty, is worth celebrating.
Think of a project you were happy to be finished with, regardless of how it turned out. How did you celebrate the chance to enter the new season of your life?
God, when difficult things end, regardless of how they do, help me to see and celebrate the possibilities of joy ahead. Amen.