After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, 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, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. – Genesis 15:1-6
We’re enjoying a wonderful time with family in northern Wisconsin. Two of our grandchildren are here, together with their parents, as well as a cousin of theirs and his parents. It’s been a wonderful 4th of July, replete with hikes to a beautiful waterfall, a wade in Lake Superior, and floating in the lake at Cat’s parents’ home.
I’m struck by the innocent unpretentious nature of our grandchildren. They ask straight forward questions: “Granddad, why do you …” Or, “Gram, can you help me…” They simply rely on our goodness and grace. They presume we’ll be truthful and gracious. We try.
Abram offers the same unpretentious and innocent question of God. “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, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”
There is no easy out for God. Abram doesn’t crouch his words or wishes. He simply offers God this direct and challenging query. I’m supposed to be the father of many nations, and I don’t yet have a child of my own. How’s that going to work?
Seems to me that we Jesus-Followers don’t want to take God at his word. It’s like we want to believe God will answer our prayers, but we’re not really ready to go out on a limb to ask.
We want healing, and we ask for patience and health. We don’t ask, “God heal me, please.”
We want a better job and we ask God for an opportunity to make a better living.
We want to have things better with our children, and we ask for peace in our households.
None of these are wrong in and of themselves. But I wonder whether we ever believe we can let God know the true desires of our hearts.
Once Jesus asked a blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” The answer was as simple as the question, “Lord, that I may see.”
If you could ask God for anything, what would it be? Can you be honest with God? Can you let him know your heart’s desires? Can you lay it out there in a way that makes you and God vulnerable? You might be disappointed. He may not meet your request.
Abram gets real with God, and the Lord provides a real and specific promise. We’ll learn more about how this goes as this narrative unfolds. In the meantime, let’s use Abram as an example of true faith, and bring to God that which is on our hearts, confident of God’s goodness, and his promises to hear those who call on him in faith.
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