March 1, 2012

March 1: Signing up for an adventure

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By Mia Engle, a first-year American Sign Language major from Decatur, Ind.
SCRIPTURE: Romans 4:13-25 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.
DEVOTIONAL:
I love the rules. I love knowing what I can and cannot do, what will get me into trouble and for what I cannot receive punishment. I revel in order, like going in the “Enter” door at the grocery store and going out the “Exit” side. I like to sign contracts saying I will not break the rules and feeling confident I won’t.

But in reading Romans 4:13-15, I came to the understanding that Abraham didn’t exactly sign a contract saying, “I, Abraham, promise not to break the laws. In return, I will earn the title of ‘father of many nations’ and will have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.” Abraham received God’s blessing through faith that God would do as God had promised. Abraham didn’t look at his old self and Sarah, who had been barren, and attempt to tell God that, as a rule, people like them didn’t have children. Abraham believed God and was ready for a baby. Instead of signing up to never break the rules, Abraham signed up to experience a miraculous adventure with God.

So, of course, the question is: how does this apply to us now? Well, I’m going to work hard to stop focusing on the rules. I’ll still be a (mostly) law-abiding citizen, but God doesn’t always use rules to get God’s plans accomplished. I’ll try to sign up for God’s adventure, even if it means going out the “Enter” door once in a while.

SCRIPTURE: Romans 4:13-25 (NRSV)
13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. 16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 23 Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

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Comments (12)

  1. Very thought-provoking devotion! I, too, am a rule follower and now have new insights and an altered perspective. Thank you.

    Kate May March 1, 2012 |
  2. Great thoughts on signing up for God’s adventures! We often don’t know what’s next or how we will be led. I, too, want to be focused on following and not on the “rules”.

    Ruth March 1, 2012 |
  3. Mia,

    Delightfully, put. Sign me up!

    Jim Brenneman, GC President March 1, 2012 |
  4. Interesting! And I find myself resisting rules … so that presents another type of “work”.

    Ann March 1, 2012 |
  5. Rules and laws are themselves gracious provisions for a good life, such as “rules of the road” that allow us to get around efficiently and safely. That’s how we can look at God’s “laws.”

    Marlin Jeschke March 1, 2012 |
  6. Great understanding of that scripture! Thank You!

    Clara B March 1, 2012 |
  7. Mia, your devotional reminds me a lot of myself. I stick very closely to the rules, often to the detriment of my spiritual life and my relationships with other people. That’s something I’m also going to have to work on this Lent (and other times as well). So, I suppose we are in the same boat. Thank you for writing this!

    Elizabeth S.O. March 1, 2012 |
  8. A lot of good food for thought. That scripture in Romans was brought to a very clear understanding. Thanks for helping me have a good start to my day.

    mary March 1, 2012 |
  9. Remember John 3:8 when thinking about how God moves in our midst. Like the wind, the Spirit is not so predictable as we wish.

    Gary Olsen-Hasek March 1, 2012 |
  10. Wonderfully written, Mia! I appreciate your genuine voice which is conveyed through this devotional. Thanks for the exhortation to take in all that we can as we live out our own adventure with God.

    Leanna Teodosio March 1, 2012 |
  11. Very insightful and thought provoking. I wish I had known at your age the insights you have–may you continue to grow in grace and knowledge.

    Bill March 1, 2012 |
  12. I have been looking for a more recent set of devotions. Just this morning in The Disciplines (UMC devotional) I read in the same passage how it is important to be ready for God to do the unexpected, ie. to use me in a way that seems out of step with whom I think I am, to be surprised and humbled that way. So thanks for the Lenten devotions. I look forward to them.

    Jerry Hunsberger March 2, 2012 |