Written on December 5, 2014. By Shari Norvell
Day 5 – December 5
Mysterious yet transparent. Wild yet the safest place. Fierce yet patient. Our God.
We enter our story today with Abraham as he experiences God in all these ways. Throughout Abraham’s story, he was invited to leave all he knew, to believe a promise would be fulfilled even when no one else did, to sacrifice that very promise and to lead a people he will never know.
Wow! Let’s peek in.
He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:5
Count the stars. I wonder if Abraham had a moment like many of us might. Count the stars! Do you know how many are up there? Do you know how long that would take? For we can be an elusive people who want God to be precise. But his heart is never to elude us, but reveal to us mysteries long hidden but never forgotten. God was inviting Abraham to see the immensity of who he was to become. But there was more. The hebrew word for ‘count’ in this scripture is ‘cipher’ and it means “to relate, to be considered, to rehearse or declare what is within, to tell accurately, to scribe and to relate.”
You see, God wasn’t just telling Abraham how many would descend from him. He was telling him who they would be. Hemmed into a word was a destiny. When Abraham (Abram at that point) was asked to look up it meant more than to turn his face in the direction of heaven. It meant to read what was written there. For hemmed into the stars is a story, our story. The stars sing, they speak they utter. The tell the story of who God has always been and who he longs to be to us. Another meaning of ‘count’ is “to utter what is heard.” Abraham was immersed in a moment of prophecy with Pappa, as he learned that his people would be storytellers, scribes, declarers, revealers and the very memory of Heaven.
We began our place in the story utterly hemmed in to this destiny, this purpose. We may be an athlete, teacher, writer, doctor, factory worker, or housewife, but our greatest destiny was prophesied on that day. For we are those descendants.
Let’s peek into the story again, not long after Abraham chose to offer what he long awaited, giving to God, letting go, so Isaac would never be an idol he held tightly to.
Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore ; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. Genesis 22:15-17
For many, this might be a simple retelling of how vast Abraham’s descendants would be. But for me, it says so much more, though that is something so big, it can’t be contained. But hidden within, hemmed into these words is another promise.
It is the promise of being hemmed in. Surrounded in a garden much bigger than the original. One yet to be filled with the seed that would produce monumental fruit. One Abraham’s family was invited to fill (including us!!). Inside these words, Pappa revealed this. The sand is your to mark. You will do it many ways. With your feet, your tent poles, your animals, but let it be most with your hearts. Every place you tread, multiply, plant, bring fulness. Don’t leave anything empty, even the smallest grain of sand is meant to reveal me. As you go, look up. See how I marked the heavens for you, telling you of the promise you were created to fulfill. And realize, you are hemmed in. You are held, but not contained. Safe but not afraid. The enemy is bound as you cleave.