I imagine that maybe, just maybe, she was a woman like me.
Because when she first heard the news, she laughed. “Can’t happen for me,” she said.
In that, we are alike.
Not proud of the cynicism, the hard edge, the bracing against Hope. And Yet…. if it could be part of her redemptive story, it’s okay for it to be part of mine. There is hope.
It tells us that she believed God, but we know that for some time she didn’t. First the laughter, the unbelief. Then the scheming, taking matters into her own hands.
The worst part is that she wasn’t the abused but the abuser. She mistreated. Not just mildly, either, but to the point of Hagar”running away.”
In this again, we are alike.
Between the promise given and the blossoming of faith lies dark territory, the howls of the soul, the dry barren ground that we each have to face in ourselves. The wretchedness of self that we want to hide, cover up, deny, busy away with meaningless activity. We wonder why, Lord, why? Why does the promise delay?
And I wonder if Sarah, the princess, the mother of nations, wept at her own darkness like I have mine?
His words came so strong that day, compelling me to write them down as a memorial. “I’ve needed to let you understand something for when I do the miraculous. I’ve needed you to understand that there is nothing in you I could work with.”
Perhaps this is where real faith is birthed. Not silly self talk that tells us WE can do better and WE can try harder and WE can get it right next time. No, like they did, I have to see the deadness of my womb, the sheer impossibility, be broken completely of self effort and self reliance before I can raise in faith and truly embrace the Promise. It is when the deadness of self seeps in that the possibility for faith…life… grows.
Their example helps me understand how to do this.
It cannot be any other way. My “deadness” gives way to life only to the extent I “contemplate it”, accept it, and start looking for another Way. Oh, blessed sight! Here is the way out: as the deadness is revealed, faith in God is given the chance to “grow strong.”
Travelers who have heard the promise but not yet fully embraced it… those who are traversing the dark shadow lands of the soul… there is hope. Our spiritual mother walked these grounds and she made it out to stand beneficiary of all His promises. Not only that, she made it to the Hall of Faith and shines a beacon for us to light our way.
The path will expose us and our deadness. Be assured. It makes one demand: that we contemplate the impossibility of self and lay. it. down. Take up the Way offered in its stead.
It must be faith alone. Faith in Him and His Goodwill towards us.
In this, I trust we will be alike.
“Faithful is He who has promised, and He also will bring it to pass.” I Thessalonians 5:24
*Traversing long miles over these holidays; if I don’t get a chance, may I wish you a Merry Christmas now? Lord willing, I’ll be back soon.