Count the stars if you can
Out of the stillness of the midnight sky comes the jubilant voice of God. The Word of the Lord comes to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Gen. 15:1) But Abram cannot rise to the joy God is expressing to His servant. To Abram, nothing matters anymore. Wealth, power even victory over his enemies fails to lift his spirits. This man, whose birth name means “exalted father” feels lost.
Abram is suffering from years of unrequited desire and disappointment. His whole being longs for an heir and it’s very apparent one is not coming. He wants to see his own flesh and blood, his lineage running and playing in the yard. He wants to smile upon a growing son of his own.
There is an empty place and a sense of abandonment inside of Abram that even his walk with God cannot fill. He is a man in need of a meeting, a confrontation with God, the God who desires total love and devotion from us. Out of a broken heart (bless his heart) Abram expresses the depths of his feelings, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son?” (Gen. 15:2)
The cry of the broken heart, and contrite spirit, will always reach the ears of the Father. God will not always give us what we want, when we want it. And, He will purify our desires until we desire His desires.
God has a plan for Abram – Abraham, but His timing has not been yet. But this is the time to replace the emptiness of a broken man with a dream of assurance that will cause Abram to reach up in faith and believe God will build a Kingdom to bless the whole world. God promises Abram, “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore.” (Gen 22:17)
Somehow I think I can hear God’s voice as He calls Abram to come outside with Him and says with overwhelming love. “Look up at the heavens and count the stars — if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” What follows next is critical. Abram believed the Lord, and God credited it to him as righteousness (rightness). Abram became Abraham, the father of many nations, revered in the New Testament for his faith. Sentimental ole me thinks of him like the George Washington of our faith.
God’s holiness will meet Abram right where he’s at just as He will us. He’s patient with His children. And, He isn’t done yet with ole Abe. He will further test him, grow him one day on a mountain where there will be an altar of sacrifice. Abram will yet know the very fire of God and know His heart. In God’s familiar way, he will rename him Abraham (“father of a multitude”) befitting the future of this chosen man.
The psalmist declared, “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills. Where does my help come from? The Lord who has made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2) Many of you will remember Maria Von Trapp who “got it” as portrayed in “The Sound of Music.” “I go to the hills when my heart is lonely. I know I will hear, what I’ve heard before. And, my heart will be blessed with the sound of music. And I’ll sing, once more!”
The dream is a long way off for Abram. Many years will pass as God prepares His servant to be the Father of many nations. There will be many seasons of doubt and testing. But God has given Abram a reference point, and one for us too. Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. Cry your emptiness out to the Lord. He who knows the depths of your longing will hear you also. On the nights when the enemy whispers his lies and doubts, look to Heaven for the fulfillment of your hopes and dreams.
Pastor Bill Baltz is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.