Devotions for the week of: February 19, 2020
Genesis 18:1-15 (NRSV)
The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. 3 He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5 Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” 6 And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” 7 Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. 8 Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
9 They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” 10 Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”
Sarah and Abraham were old. She was past her prime, and definitely past bearing children. Abraham also was old. But God had made a promise and God always keeps God’s promises. Sarah will have a son. It is easy to believe when God keeps our schedule. It is much harder to hold on when we must wait.
Abraham was 75 years old when they left Haran. God promised him land, children and blessings. They migrated to Canaan, sojourned in Egypt, and returned to Canaan. After Lot and his family headed to greener pastures, God promises Abram children as numerous as the dust. Abram sets up his tents by the Oaks of Mamre. But no children came.
Lot is captured in a war. Abraham fights to free him. God again promises descendants, as numerous as the stars. Yet again no children came. Sarai offers her maid, Hagar, as a surrogate mother, to help God along. When he is 86 years old, after 11 years of waiting, Abram has a son. However, Hagar and Sarai are contentious.
When Abram is 99 God renews his promises, renames them Abraham and Sarah, and promises a son whose name is laughter. Seven chapters after their story begins, Abraham and Sarah are back by the Oaks of Mamre and God announces the fulfillment of his promises is at hand. Sarah laughs. Her time of waiting is almost over.
What has been your time of waiting? Perhaps it was for the birth of a child, or finishing college, or for a loved one to return from deployment, or a building project to be completed. Some wait for a ring, or for a debt to be paid, or for the results from tests to finally be known. Some wait for human rules to change. Waiting is hard work.
It is hard to be patient when we are waiting for God to act. God keeps God’s promises in God’s good time. When we see God’s promises being fulfilled, may it cause us to laugh.
Pastor Mindy Ehrke
St. Paul Lutheran, Clark and Goodhue/New Helgen, Florence
Dear God, give us patience Lord, while we wait for you to keep your promises. Amen.
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