13 September 2013

Hey, You Should Pray for This Great Thing You Don't Deserve!

I started reading the Bible from the beginning this week in an effort to take note of all the things I likely missed the first time around. Some hilarity ensued.

 The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”
 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it.  He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.  Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.  So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.” Genesis 18:1-15, NIV

Telling God He didn't hear what He heard. Gotta love it. All my life, I've imagined God to be like this:

I'm not so sure that's how He looked when He asked Sarah why she was laughing. I picture a different stance. Something a little more like this:

The story of Abraham and Sarah is awesome because it shows that God keeps His promises, and that waiting on the Lord pays off. But I like the story because all of that is true in spite of the fact that they didn't deserve it.

Abraham goes off and sleeps with the hired help. Sarah gets jealous and treats the hired help like crap. God (more hilarity ensues) tells the mistress, "Listen, it's all good. I promise you this child you're carrying will be a major headache for Sarah and Abraham. He'll be the poster child for bad behavior. I give unto thee Charleen Sheen clothed in a loin cloth...except I want you to call him Ishmael." (Not in so many words, but that's the Fidler interpretation.)

Anyway, Abraham and Sarah hatch this horrible plot to force someone else to have their child because they don't believe God can pull it off. Then Sarah cops an attitude. And just a few pages ago, God promised not to destroy mankind in a flood ever again. Oh snap! I wonder if He regretted that promise.

He could have squashed them like little bugs, or laughed a cryptic laugh as he told them to go change into their bathing suits. Instead, he gave them a son. Their son. Not the hired help's son. Good old Isaac. It was completely supernatural. No test tube babies yet, just a married couple, older than dirt (not that dirt was very old at that point), who had dismissed God as a liar. Total National Enquirer material. They didn't deserve it. They got it anyway.

Today I was pouring a cup of coffee, thinking about something I've worried about for months. I ran out of worry. I got tired and gave that up, and as soon as I admitted I had no idea what to do or how to do it, I felt peace. Then, this morning, I'm stirring some pumpkin spice CoffeeMate into my java and I feel like God is telling me, really specifically, to pray about the situation from a totally different angle. 

I didn't laugh at God. I didn't say "yeah right" or anything like that. I was just sadly surprised that I had never thought to pray that way before, and now I realize it's because I didn't think it was possible. I couldn't imagine God giving me that answer.

It's like watching Hulk Hogan throw a man across a wrestling ring, but you don't think he can carry your hot dog and Coke back to your arena seat for you without pulling a muscle in his wrist.

But, ya know, even as I write this, I can't help but think I'm going to be disappointed if God doesn't answer it the way He's telling me I should pray for it. And then I'll wonder why He told me to pray for it like that in the first place.


So many questions...
Pray now, write a blog about obedience later...


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