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The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. 3 And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4 Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5 Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.
6 And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. 7 Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!” – Genesis 21:1-7
I had an epiphany. It was at a conference sponsored by a large church with a very successful ministry. They had previously hosted hundreds of people for these conferences. But this time, there were fewer than 30 in attendance. But you would never know it. The worship leaders and the presenters never apologized for the lack of attendance. A good reminder: Why worry about who isn’t there? Focus on those who are there! I’ve tried to keep this in mind.
But that wasn’t the epiphany. Somehow during this conference I was convicted of something several of us struggled with. We all wanted to be in large successful churches. Gifted staff. Powerful programs. Impressive facilities. We were envious. We had no idea of what we were really wishing for. But somehow God broke through. I realized that all the successful churches, ministries, programs, buildings, and staff teams didn’t belong to only that one congregation. These were all kingdom resources. I didn’t need to own them. I didn’t have to claim them as mine.
God led me to 1 Corinthians 3:21-23
So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you—22 whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
I’ve tried to keep that in mind as time has gone on. Any success I’ve experienced is to God’s glory, and not to my credit or certainly not for my personal (selfish) use. And when I see any kingdom success – large or small churches impacting lives and saving souls – I rejoice. With the angels. With the redeemed. With the laborers.
Sarah hints at that here: “All who hear about this will laugh with me,” she says. I hope they did. I hope there was a gaggle of laughter that went on for days. Chortling and cooing, giggling and tittering. Joy experienced and shared.
If we’re consumed with our own desires, and constantly worried about getting our due, we’ll forfeit joy. If we see the good things others experience as testimony to God’s goodness and grace, rather than resenting them for their good fortune we’ll begin to touch the edge of joy. When we celebrate God’s goodness to others with them, we come even closer. And when we see that God’s goodness is the source of every good gift, we will find true joy.
I hope you join the laughter and the celebration. God is good!