Then the Lord appeared to him ... as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them...
Genesis 18:1-2 (NKJV)
Yesterday we watched as God brought Abraham out of his tent to look up at the stars and accept a new perspective. And each day, it seems that Abraham is getting a bit more comfortable with this idea of believing in, and relying on God. To the point where now... he even recognizes Him from a distance. And here we see Abraham eagerly running from the tent to meet and serve God and His companions. And Abraham is growing in his faith because he meets often with God.
But as these visitors rest and stay for the meal, Sarah remains inside the tent.
Even when these visitors inquire about her, she does not come out, as it is the custom of this age, for women to not eat with visiting men. Yet she can hear every word they speak... they are not far off. For the LORD knows she must overhear the promise in order to have the faith for it to come to pass.
And He said, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.”
Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.
Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying,
“After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
Genesis 18:10-12 (NKJV)
But the LORD hears her thoughts. He knows of the whispers within the tent... just as He knows our own. When we doubt and fear, even those dreams on which we have given up... even when we stay hidden inside our own tent, thinking no one else knows. God knows.
For some of us have not grown comfortable, like Abraham, to come out of the tent. But some of us live with, or near someone like him. And we watch an Abraham-like-friend, or an Abraham-like-spouse, or an Abraham-like-parent or child... step out of their tent and walk, or even run, to God with the utmost ease. And yet we stay crouched inside feeling every bit of or our empty and barren faith, wondering why we can't do the same. Why don't we feel as free as Abraham to run out of the tent and meet with God? Why does it seem so easy for them... what is wrong with me... why can't I be more like them?
And often we simply rely on their faith instead of our own.
This is what we see Sarah doing... for look who she calls her lord.
After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?
Sarah is in disbelief because of their old age, but she is also putting her faith in Abraham as her lord... (lower case) lord, rather than God... (upper case) LORD.
And yet, the LORD God is still standing outside the tent longing for her to believe. Because He has made a promise to Abraham to become the Father of many nations. And He needs the faith of Sarah to come alongside him.
And as He waits, He speaks...
And the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying...
‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord?
At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life,
and Sarah shall have a son.”
But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid.
And He said, “No, but you did laugh!”
Genesis 18:13-15 (NKJV)
Sarah's faith is being tested now... even inside the tent.
God is not calling her to step outside. He is not asking her to look up to the stars, nor to be like, or have the faith of Abraham.
And God is not asking you to believe your Abraham-like-friend either. Because He has made each of us special and has given each of us a measure of faith all our own. Sarah needed the kind of faith that carried a child, that stayed inside the tent... even after she had lived in a very empty place. Even after she had been barren for many years. Abraham could never have understood that. God needed Sarah to listen and believe this promise and develop her own faith... one that would compliment the faith of Abraham, not compete with it.
Sarah's laugh was not a silly one. It was one of fear... of believing again. For she did not want to get her hopes up for a dream lost long ago. She had finally set that one aside. And maybe she had finally set God aside too. It was just easier to live that way, not always waiting on something bigger. So she followed Abraham while he followed God.
Until this voice started speaking outside the tent. And this voice called her name and told her to believe. That is a scary place to be. That's why she laughed... in fear. That's why she denied laughing... covering her shame... fearing to hope again.
Maybe you have been there. Fearing to believe in God again... because it hurt last time you did. Because you felt disappointment, emptiness, and rejection when life didn't go your way, and the dream you had did not come true. Maybe you decided that God let you down, so it was easier to just stop believing.
So you stay in your safe little tent where you can control the outcomes because that's just easier. But you see others believing and it causes you to wonder... if maybe there's more.
Please don't believe that their faith has to be yours. We cannot live on anyone else faith. Because God created us as unique individuals and He knows us just like the Sarah's we are... and He wants us to trust Him to give birth to the dreams He planted inside. Even if it takes a little longer. For He did give us faith. And He never planned on us to compare it to the Abraham-like-faith. He gave us Sarah-like-faith. Our own faith in Him that will bloom at just the right time... for just the right purpose.
God is writing each person's story differently. He never wants us to compare our stories, our faith's, our depth of belief in Him. It's not our purpose.
He does want us to share the love He gives us, to help and encourage each other, and to carry each others burdens along the way. But comparison will only shut us down.
So pray that your faith will begin again...
And just know that when you hear His voice, it is for you and your dream. It is unique and not for anyone else. And as you trust Him, and get to know Him, your faith will grow.
And it gets easier as you do it over, and over again.
Word of God... train me, today...
to have my own faith in You!
Lord God, I thank you for each and every reader of this post today!
I ask that you comfort and reach out to each of us in our tents
and let us know that You are near.
For You are the God who never leaves.
And You are a patient and loving friend who will always understand.
Encourage us today to take even one peek out that flap...
let us see a view today that is extraordinary.
Let us hear Your voice today, and recognize Your calling.
Lord, let us know of the purpose and dreams only You can plant inside.
Grow our faith and encourage us today!
Let us not compare our faith to another,
but believe that You will make us who we need to become.
We love You, Lord,
for You are for us.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)
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