Tag Archives: Abraham

The Death of a Dream

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Americans idolize their dreams.  We are a nation of big dreamers.  We applaud those who do great things.  We reward those who succeed.  We equate the death of a dream with failure.

But what if the death of a dream is part of the process that God wants to take you through.  What if it is ultimately for your good.  What if God must empty your hands before He can fill them with what He wants to give you.  That sounds painful.  That sounds suspiciously like an excuse for failure.  So is there a precedent for this in the Bible?  Is this something that God actually DOES?

Let’s ask Abraham.  No doubt, Abraham and his wife Sarah longed deeply for children.  They dreamed of the pitter patter of little feet on the tent floor.  Maybe Sarah spent the long evenings knitting little hats and booties for her dream child.  When it looked like it was too late for babies, the biological clock has ticked its last, God appeared and breathed life into the dead dream with a promise.  “You WILL have a son and I will bless the whole world through your ancestors.”

They had waited a long time for a baby, and now they waited again.  After many years of sighing and fretting, Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands.  Abraham took Sarah’s servant Haagar as a second wife in order to have a child.  They DID have a child, but this was not God’s promised son.  They must continue to wait for another 13 years.  The dream died again.  Then at the age of 99, the dream was once again revived when Sarah became pregnant finally!  The miracle child was finally coming!  The promise was finally realized.

But the dream was to die again.  Did Abraham begin to idolize his son?  This promised child, this long awaited joy meant so very much to his parents.  God came to Abraham again, and asked him to lay the dream down once more, to sacrifice his son as an act of devotion to God.  “But God, you GAVE me this dream!  How can you ask me to let it die?”  He might have asked.  But no, Abraham figured that if God wanted to, he could revive the dream again.  All this dying of dreams had taught him that God can be trusted when it looks like it’s all over.  God could bring his son back to life after he had been sacrificed to the Lord.  After all, child sacrifice was part of the religion of the pagans who lived all around Abraham.  “So who is to say that this God who makes wild promises and then lets the dream die won’t ask a crazy thing of me as well,” he might have reasoned.

But at the final moment, before the physical death of his son and the final death of the dream, God intervened once again.  The test was passed.  The idolization was dead and true devotion to God was all that remained.  The purification of the dream had occurred.  Abraham’s faith was proven and God was satisfied.

What dream are you holding tightly to?  Has it become an idol to you?  God just might ask you to lay that dream down or out right kill that dream in order to empty your hands.  You can not receive from the Lord if your hands are already full.  What dream of yours needs to die?

 

Sojourners Looking for a City

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The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living.  It’s our handle on what we can’t see.  The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd…

Abel

Enoch

Noah

By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home.  When he left he had no idea where he was going.  By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents.  Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise.  Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations- the City designed and built by God…

Abraham

Sarah

The promised son

Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing.  How did they do it?  They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world.  People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home.  If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted.  But they were after a far better country than that- Heaven country.  You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them…

Abraham and Isaac

Jacob and Esau

Joseph and his sons

Moses

The Israelites at the parting of the Red Sea and marching around the walls of Jericho

Rahab and the spies

I count go on and on, but I’ve run out of time.  There are so many more- Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets… Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves.  They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies.  Women received their loved ones back from the dead.  There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better:  resurrection.  Others braved abuse and whips, and yes, chains and dungeons.  We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless- the world didn’t deserve them!- making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.

Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised.  God had a better plan for us:  that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.

Hebrews 11- excerpts from the Message version of the Bible.