Last night when I finally turned off my bedroom light and got into bed I immediately had to get up again. I have a high window on the wall beside my bed and in the dark I saw that the night sky was resplendent with stars! I knelt on my bed to see what I could from there and then moved to the window that looks out on the back yard. Not enough of a view, I went into the room next to mine to see if I could escape the fullness of the trees…Not really. I needed to be outside to get the full effect – but it was late and, not willing to disturb the lovely, absolute silence of the house, I went back to bed, but smiling inside and out.
This morning I felt a little envious of Abram (not yet Abraham since God’s covenant with him was yet to be made) as I read that God took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,” God added, “shall your descendants be.” I can only imagine Abram’s feeling inside – a complex mix of amazement, wondering and perhaps doubt, since he and his wife were getting old and had no children. Maybe it was the enormity and beauty of the stars that convinced him to trust in God’s promise; the Scripture says that at that moment, “Abram put his faith in the Lord.” (GN 15:1-12)
Back in my own backyard, I was thinking more about the day with reference to Abram’s life and mine. The weather held everything yesterday: a cool breeze, magnificent sunshine, a quick, loud and torrential thunderstorm – even the smallest arc of a colorful rainbow, just for a moment – and, of course, the stars. I’m guessing, by what we know from the Scriptures and from what is easy to extrapolate from those texts, that Abram’s life was a bit like the weather – as is mine. It wasn’t all, as they say, “sunshine and flowers” but the rainbows and glorious night sky were likely enough for him to hold on when the hard times came. (Who of us would be happy to uproot our whole clan and move to another country at age 75? Maybe a modern-day refugee could give us a good sense what that costs.)
God made a covenant with Abraham that day and kept it. I’m certain that it had to be renewed in Abraham’s soul on a regular basis. We would do well to pay attention to the stars or whatever prompts us to bow down to the marvelous things God is doing in our lives that reminds us to stay the course for another day.