Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Credit line of faith
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
"He took him outside and said:
“Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can.
Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.”
Abram put his faith in the LORD,
who credited it to him as an act of righteousness."
Just a bit today on our first reading. Now to get the full impact of today's selection you have read the entire section otherwise you will miss the beauty of Abram's faith.
Before this particular section I have copied above, Abram is complaining to God because he remains childless. HE questions God as to how he can be a father of many if he doesn't even have one heir. This is a pretty good question to pose.
So in order to get Abram to relax and trust, God takes him outside and ask Abram to look around and to count the stars.
In other words god tells Abram, "lets take this outside."
Now go back to you childhood for a moment. Remember those days when you would look up into the night sky and try to count the stars. I am sure we have all tried to count stars at least once in our life. Each time we attempted it, we got quickly overwhelmed by the vastness of the sky and we lost count because of the beauty and awe that filled us.
Now this isn't what happens to Abram.
At first glance we think this may be the case, but if you read further in this particular passage of Genesis ch 15 you discover that God takes Abram outside to count stars in the middle of the day.
Here is the rest of the passage for your reading enjoyment:
He then said to him,
“I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans
to give you this land as a possession.”
“O Lord GOD,” he asked,
“how am I to know that I shall possess it?”
He answered him,
“Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat,
a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
Abram brought him all these, split them in two,
and placed each half opposite the other;
but the birds he did not cut up.
Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses,
but Abram stayed with them.
As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram,
and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.
When the sun had set and it was dark,
there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch,
which passed between those pieces.
It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram,
saying: “To your descendants I give this land,
from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River the Euphrates."
Notice that the sun doesn't set until after Abram gets the animals for the sacrifice,
which means of course it was still day when God ask Abram to count the stars in the sky.
Now, think about that for a moment. God asks Abram to count the stars in the sky during the middle of the day. The stars are not yet out while the sun is shining. They are present but they are shielded form sight because of the light of the sun.
Now imagine Abram's surprise when God took him outside and asked him to count the stars in the middle of the day. What a lesson to learn.
St. Paul put it this way, "we walk by faith not by sight."
God invites Abram to be patient. God asks Abram to trust what he cannot see and to not let his sight bring blindness to his life of faith.
How often do we let our sight, what we see or not see, bring blindness to our life of faith?
When in doubt, step outside in the middle of the day and count the stars and be credited as one who is righteous.
This is the credit we live our life on. The credit line of faith helps us move beyond the line of sight that often hinders our ability to surrender, to love, to hope, to believe.
A simple lesson for today as we walk by faith and not by sight.
In the words of god to Abram that begin the passage, "Fear not..."
A little prose from A.J. Cronin:
"Life is no straight and easy corridor along which we travel free and unhampered,
but a maze of passage through which we must seek our way lost and confused, now and again checked in a blind alley.
But always, if we have faith God will open a door for us,
not perhaps one that we ourselves would ever have thought of, but
one that will ultimately prove good for us."