I used to try to count the stars. On warm summer nights as a kid, my dad would take my brother and me for boat rides in the tidal marsh behind our house. We’d zoom through the little slews and creeks by moonlight, then he’d cut the engine and we’d drift with the current. He’d direct our attention up to the Milky Way and the few constellations he knew. And in the quiet of the wind-rustled marsh grass and the crickets on shore and the gentle lapping of the water on our aluminum hull, I’d try to count the stars. As you can probably guess, I didn’t get very far.
God’s promise to Abram, later Abraham, sounds impossible: “I will make of you a great nation” (12:2). For this to come true, Abraham knows he’ll need a child and his descendants will need their own land. In today’s passage, Abram is trying to find a way to make this promise come true. He can’t necessarily do much about the land, but he can adopt a servant to be his child. God answers by specifying: “your very own issue shall be your heir” (v. 4). Not an adopted son, but one born from his own body will fulfill this promise. Then God provides a sort of visual parable to help him see the truth: he will have as many descendants as there are stars.
And Abram believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness (v. 6). What promises does God want you to picture and believe today?
Do you remember the impossible things you believed as a child? Have any of them come true, perhaps not in the ways you expected?
God of all stars and worlds, forgive me for the times I’ve tried to take your work and promises into my own power and timeline. Amen.