The Lord appeared to Abraham … while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent.
Instantly hospitable to the three strangers, Abraham offered a place to wash up, then hurried to provide food and drink. We soon learn that the visit was about Sarah, who was many years past child-bearing age. That would change by next year, God told Abraham, for Sarah would have a son. Abraham had believed when he saw the innumerable stars at night some years earlier. Would Sarah now also believe?
Overhearing all this from inside her tent, Sarah nearly choked with laughter. How could an impossibly old and barren woman have the pleasure of her own child?
A worldly spirituality believes God’s ways are limited to our ways. It objects to God’s salvation as an extraordinary gift, and it argues that opportunities for new life are rooted in normal human birth. But innumerable human births have not begun to solve the problem of our flight from God.
The promised birth of Sarah’s Isaac would not come merely by the earthly way of women and men, but by heavenly power. So it was supremely with Mary, through whom Jesus came into the world. And now, says Jesus, no one can come close to God unless they’re born again—that is, born of the Spirit who comes to live in our hearts. Don’t laugh. God’s power in the world is greater than ours.
I confess Lord, that your ways are stranger than all my imaginations. Thank you for all the surprises, and help me to trust fully in you, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
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