I was talking to someone recently about my “life’s plan.” After uttering that phrase, my friend simply laughed and said, “You see why that’s funny, right? When has your life ever gone according to plan?”
She’s right. In the past week and a half, what I’m going to study, where I’m going to live and what I am actively pursuing as a career has changed drastically. I have had those elements of my life planned out since 5th grade. It took three days for everything to change. So much for my plans.
Abram and Sarai were faced with the reality that Sarai wasn’t able to conceive. It was a tough reality, but a reality none the less for them. With this in mind, Abram and Sarai made “life plans.” Abram lets God know that “a servant in my household will be my heir.” That’s the plan. Even after God promises children to Abram and Sarai, Abram has a child with his slave Hagar. Sure, Abram and Sarai would have loved to completely trust in God, but they couldn’t. Sarai wasn’t getting any younger. Heirs were needed. Decisions were made. That’s that.
Years go by. Ishmael is 13, Sarai is 90 and Abram is 99. God reminds Abram that the promise God made still stands: Sarai will conceive and they will have a son. Abram responds by rolling on the floor and laughing. Good one, God.
It’s not that Abram and Sarai don’t want to believe God. They just don’t see how their life could pan out any other way. Often times, I have found myself feeling the same way. It’s always nice to think that things are going to work out alright, that God has a better plan than we have. But sometimes, it just doesn’t seem like there is any other way. Our plan is the only option.
When has life ever gone according to plan? Abram and Sarai did have a child. They named their son Isaac, which is Hebrew for “he laughs.” We will make our life plans. We’ll work towards them and laugh at the idea that there is a better alternative. But just remember, God gets the last laugh.
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 (NRSV)
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 towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Then he said to him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.’ But he said, ‘O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?’ He said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.’ He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.
When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,