(My sermon this past week began with this story, leading to God reaffirming his covenant with Abraham.)
“He was 99 years old. He’d had a rough day, and needed a laugh. His son was turning 13, and becoming a man. Abram could hear people whispering at the celebration. There was talk of this being an illegitimate son. Every year at this time, the memories returned. Memories of his servant Hagar, and the shame of knowing what he’d done. How she’d gotten pregnant, and ran away. But mostly, the curious things she said when she came back.
An angel had said to her “I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.” She made sure Abram had heard that much, and he felt odd.
For 25 years now, God had been speaking to him. Speaking about covenant. Saying that he will bless Abram, and make his family a great nation. That through his family, all the families of earth would be blessed. That his descendants would be given all that God had made, and be so numerous they could not be counted, as the stars are in the sky.
Sure, there was a warning about a period of time where his descendants would be aliens in a land not their own. They would be slaves, even, for 400 years. But God was to bring them out with great possessions, and return to the land as God promised.
Sometimes, after dinner, his eyes would meet Sarai’s. He’d been sharing with her what God had been saying. She would smile, saying a thousand words in a simple grin. Her gentle demeanor always made him smile. She was truly a wife worth a thousand rubies. Somehow, God had chosen him, and together, they shared this promise of God.
He hasn’t seen that grin in over 13 years. Sure, they were still married. But her eyes had changed. He wished things had happened differently. She was an amazing woman, raising this boy as her own. But surely, this wasn’t what God had in mind, was it?
Was this boy really the beginning of God’s promise? He hadn’t heard from the voice of the Lord since it was spoken in promise to his slave-girl, Ishmael’s mother. Over 13 years, and he still couldn’t forget the tears welling up in Sarai’s eyes when she heard from the slave-girl. Humbled by God’s promise to make the girl fruitful, while Sarai continued barren.
Like I said, he was 99, and was in need of a laugh. Little did he know what God had in store…”
To hear what happened next, check out Genesis chapter 17, verses 1-7 and 15-16!