December 4th, 2011
This wasn’t the story I’d planned, nor the character, but I’ve struggled a little this week writing the story I was going to tell. It doesn’t “sit” well at the moment, so I have decided to go with a story that I had already written. It fits quite well with the Advent Pause for two reasons: One of my Words of the Week is TRUST and in Sarah’s story, trust is very important. The other is that I know one year in church, we used different themes for preaching in Advent: The Prophets, The Patriarchs, the – Oh, dear, I can’t remember the others! But luckily, I do remember the Patriarchs, and this story today tells the story of how Abraham and Sarah trusted God. Another baby story!
I’m getting old now, and to be honest, I thought I’d seen all the excitement in my life. Abram and I were settled here, happy and content. Of course, there have been sorrows in our lives – as there is in everyone’s – but we’d muddled through, with the help of God and we had reached this stage in our lives, where we thought perhaps we could rest a little more, take things easy.
We’d always hoped for the blessing of children, but it was not to be. Sometimes the other women made cruel comments about me, suggesting I had been cursed by God. And while I knew in my heart that the God who had been so good to us would not have made this a curse, it still cut deep, and I cried out to him in the night. It took me a long time to come to terms with my childlessness, to admit the impossibility of carrying a baby. Still, we thought, it is not to be.
However we couldn’t be more wrong, it seems. You see, last night Abram came home, looking all pale and shaken. To be honest, I thought he was ill, maybe dying. I fussed around him, asking him where it hurt, trying to press herbal medicines onto him, but he just brushed me away and told me not to be so silly. Silly? I ask you! Here I was thinking death was knocking on our door and he tells me not to be silly!
Well, after a while he recovered a little, and told me what had happened. It seems he had been out in the courtyard, meditating in the sunshine, as he liked to do, when he heard the voice of God speaking to him. God told him that he was to leave this country where we had settled, leave his people and his home and move to another land that God would show him.
Well, when I heard this I’m afraid I made some rather derogatory remarks about the mentality of a God who would send a 75 year old man off to another country for no reason that I could see.
Abram told me off, and then said that there was more. Apparently God had told him that he was to be the father of a great nation, through which all people would be blessed. That’s impossible, I said. I don’t believe it, I said. If God had wanted to do that he would have chosen someone young and fit and fertile, not somebody like you who’s over 70 with a barren wife. God doesn’t ask the impossible.
But Abram’s faith is greater than mine will ever be. He took my hands and gently told me that our God never asks the impossible, that he is always there, and that we should never fear that we cannot do what he is asking. He said that we were about to face the greatest adventure of our life, that everything was going to be turned upside down, and ~
But what will happen? I wailed. How can we go through all that turmoil, not knowing what will happen? I can’t do it.
You must, my dear husband replied. You must trust God. Put your hand in his. Remember how it was with your own father, how you held his hand and he never led you into danger? Remember how you knew that you were safe with him, even if you didn’t know where he was taking you? Remember how he never let you come to harm? I nodded uncertainly.
Well, then. God is like that. Trust him, Sarah, hold his hand and trust him.
Abram wiped the tears from my eyes and went into the house. I’m still not sure… but what I have to hold onto is that God has been so good to us in our lives, and I can’t believe he would abandon us now. I have to go with Abram trusting that God will not ask the impossible… and if I do have a baby, well, I think then I will believe that God can do anything!
I suppose I had better get on with the packing….