Back in August, I did a video post regarding some plans I had for my upcoming fall season. One of those plans included beginning a fourth manuscript based on Hebrews 11 and those who receive an honorable mention as persons of incredible faith. Over the last few months, their stories have become my own. I am almost half-way through the writing process but have slowed my pace because of Christmas. I hope to return to the “pen” with concentrated effort next week.
I wanted to share with you one of the reflections included in the work thus far. My goal in writing this book is to glean wisdom and faith therein from an “ancient” path–the one first tread by those who walked it best and, therefore, made their way into holy writ. They are my heroes. Thus, I leave you with my thoughts, along with some corresponding questions that reflect the style/layout of the projected 40 reflection book. I covet your prayers for future contemplation, a swift pen, and the continuing message of faith that God wants to weave within me and out of me and finally to thee–you, my friends. Blessings this week.
“Mommy, this is one in a thousand nights.”
Those were my son’s words to me last evening as we sat under the cover of darkness on our front porch looking up at the night sky. The cool November air and partial cloudiness of the heavens didn’t keep us from our imagining. Instead, we took to the diversion believing that the moments shared between us would be ours for always—securely tucked away in remembrance for a season somewhere down the road.
I knew what he meant, even though his words were a bit scrambled. His words often remain trapped within his nine-year-old vernacular. He can’t always articulate his thoughts in a language worthy of his thinking. Still and yet, he tries to put parameters around his feelings, and what he felt last night was special. Felt wanted. Felt loved and a part of the great cosmic movement circulating above his head. Felt like this was a night that could not be replicated… at least not for the next 999 nights.
I imagine his feelings had less to do with the stars and more to do with the story I told him about those stars. A story that took place in a long ago and far away season on an evening beneath the same landscape that currently cradled our vision. A story about an aged man named Abraham who took a night walk with a big God into the land of Promise. A vision that exceeded possibility to include the sure certainty of tomorrow’s reality—
A rich heritage of both physical and spiritual descendants that numbered with the stars, not with calculated understanding. When God revealed his plan to Abraham regarding his forward fruitfulness, Abraham took God at his word. He believed his Father. In doing so, Abraham became our spiritual father—the head of faith’s ancestral tree that still roots beneath our night sky and is illuminated by the same stars that shine as a witness to the certainty of God’s Promise, both then and now.
I told my son that when God and Abraham took their night walk and witnessed the magnitude of the galaxy surrounding them, one of those stars had his name written upon it; one of them had mine and his daddy’s, his brothers’ and his sister’s. That even then, God was thinking about all of us and how we would make a welcome addition to faith’s family tree. That somehow the stars up above us had withstood the passage of time so that the two of us could spend an evening beneath them, imagining Abraham’s faith moment when his belief in God’s promise superseded his doubts.
Tears streamed down my cheeks as I watched the little boy imagine alongside me. Ten years ago, he seemed an impossibility to us. Years of infertility gripped our first years of marriage. We walked through a long season of trying to manipulate the outcome by artificial means, only to be disappointed time and again. It wasn’t until we relinquished our control—our plans for God’s—that we were granted our star’s witness. A son named Jadon, meaning “God has heard.”
Faith conceives a galaxy.
Faith doesn’t stop short of the Milky Way. Instead, faith rides its spiral arms all the way through to completion, naming its inhabitants as it goes and claiming each one as family … as faithfulness. Faith lives in the witness of twinkling lights, the illumination of which is timeless and the vibrancy of which is eternally potent. When faith anchors its hope there—up above and within reach of heaven—then faith finds room enough to conceive the “impossible.” Faith believes beyond the impractical and the seemingly unattainable to take hold of God’s promise which always stems from the immeasurably more of his goodness.
Abraham and Sarah’s “impossible” was couched in the barrenness of a womb. To conceive there was to complete God’s promise. Their faith granted them sacred fruition—a “believing is seeing” kind of finish. For us, our impossibilities are couched in a great many things, a great many wants, and a great many doubts. We want to take God at his word regarding our conception of scripturally spoken promises, but our barren estate forbids our believing God for anything further than the emptiness we now harbor. Why? Because the emptiness seems too vast, too lonely, too uncertain. Instead of trust we choose manipulation. Instead of faith, we formulate a back-up plan just in case our God doesn’t come through.
When wombs remain empty, faith lingers at the edge of dismissal. No wonder so many of us are stagnated in our spiritual progress. We equate faith with fullness, when in truth faith most readily grows and is active in our barrenness. When we can’t grasp this, then faith no longer serves as our guiding light but rather burdens us with its requirement. Instead of looking up at a night’s sky to receive faith’s everlasting witness, we stay grounded in our temporal visioning, limiting our belief to that which the eye can see and the mind can control. We trade our “one in a thousand nights” in for countless nights mired in routine and rote participation.
I don’t know about you, but I need my “one in thousand nights” every now and again. In fact, a nightly detour to a porch and to the wild imaginings of a nine-year-old boy serve me particularly well in those seasons when my faith feels empty and dissolved by the worldly constraints pressing the issue of my belief. When those moments arrive for me… arrive for you, instead of receiving and feeling the uncertainty of them all, let us, like Abraham, receive the certainty of a night’s walk with the King.
There is a galaxy up above that never grows dim and that continues to shine as an everlasting witness of God’s promise to his children.
Faith conceives a galaxy. Back then. Last night. Right now. Thus, I pray…
Keep me to a night’s pause, Father, beneath your stars and with the whispers of Abraham’s “long ago and far away” as my serenade. You were there when Abraham took in the witness of their vastness; you are here when I do the same. Forgive me when my focus remains earthbound and frozen in a time frame that reaps temporal results instead of the eternal promises that you have spoken on my behalf. Shower me with “one in a thousand nights” as I am faithful to entreat their grandeur—their testimony regarding the truth of your thoughts and love toward me. Never once have you wavered in your promises, God. Keep me faithful to that end until my end lands me home and finishes me fully. Amen.
A further pause…
~ What barrenness have you known in recent days? How has that emptiness challenged your faith?
~ Consider the phrase “When wombs remain empty, faith lingers at the edge of dismissal.” Do you agree and, if so, how has this been true in your own walkabout of faith?
~ Describe your last “one in a thousand nights.” What about that connection with your Creator left a lasting impression within your soul?
~ Take time to read about Abraham’s “one in a thousand nights” moment as recorded in Genesis 15. Give close attention to all of the words spoken by God (see verses 1, 4-5, 7, 9, 13-16, 18-19). Which “certainty” voiced by God do you most need the witness of in this season of living?
~ The same God who visited Abraham in a night’s pause is the same God who visits us in ours. Take time to be with him this evening beneath the witness of his night sky.
Copyright © December 2009 – Elaine Olsen