After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the LORD came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendents be.” And he believed the LORD, and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Abram is beginning to get a little anxious here…the promises God made sounded so great when he was leaving his homeland and his family and all he knew. But now things are a little sketchier. There are no children yet—and children are the crucial part of this whole plan. What kind of reward is it if there are no children to pass it on to, no family name to continue, no one to receive the inheritance?
Abram sees his life as one marked, at the moment anyway, by scarcity. And he complains against God out of that mindset—“you have given me nothing important” he says. But God has a different view. God sends Abram outside to look at the sky, filled with an abundance of stars. This is what will mark Abram’s life—abundance. And somehow, that is enough for Abram. Just a look at the abundance God has already created and provided in the heavens, let alone on the earth, and Abram believes that his descendents really will be innumerable. Quite a change from a few sentences before, when Abram sounded decidedly doubtful, and maybe even a little whiney!
Eventually, we all know, Abram manages to have two children, and beyond that his offspring really are innumerable…but there were moments of doubt. Even Abram operated out of a mindset of scarcity and doubt sometimes. Even Abram, the exalted ancestor, the one held up as a model for our faith, questioned God. And believed the answer. And that is a right relationship.
O God, you give abundantly. Your creation, your history, your people, are full of your abundant life. We pray that you would hear our questions, take our doubts and even our whining, and turn them into faith. Help us to be in right relationship with you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.