The kingdom of heaven. Its citizens are drunk on wonder. Consider the case of Sarai. She is in her golden years, but God promises her a son. She gets excited. She visits the maternity shop and buys a few dresses. She plans her shower and remodels her tent. . . but no son. She eats a few birthday cakes and blows out a lot of candles. . . still no son. She goes through a decade of wall calendars . . . still no son.
So Sarai decides to take matters into her own hands. (“Maybe God needs me to take care of this one.”)
She convinces Abram that time is running out. (“Face it, Abe, you ain’t getting any younger, either.”) She commands her maid, Hagar, to go into Abram’s tent and see if he needs anything. (“And I mean ‘anything’!”) Hagar goes in a maid. She comes out a mom. And the problems begin.
Hagar is haughty. Sarai is jealous. Abram is dizzy from the dilemma. And God calls the baby boy a “wild donkey”—an appropriate name for one born out of stubbornness and destined to kick his way into history.
It isn’t the cozy family Sarai expected. And it isn’t a topic Abram and Sarai bring up very often at dinner.
Finally, fourteen years later, when Abram is pushing a century of years and Sarai ninety…when Abram has stopped listening to Sarai’s advice, and Sarai has stopped giving it…when the
wallpaper in the nursery is faded and the baby furniture is several seasons out of date…when the topic of the promised child brings sighs and tears and long looks into a silent sky…God pays them a visit and tells them they had better select a name for their new son.
Abram and Sarai have the same response: laughter. They laugh partly because it is too good to happen and partly because it might. They laugh because they have given up hope, and hope born anew is always funny before it is real.
They laugh at the lunacy of it all.
Abram looks over at Sarai—toothless and snoring in her rocker, head back and mouth wide open, as fruitful as a pitted prune and just as wrinkled. And he cracks up. He tries to contain it, but he can’t. He has always been a sucker for a good joke.
Sarai is just as amused. When she hears the news, a cackle escapes before she can contain it. She mumbles something about her husband’s needing a lot more than what he’s got and then laughs again.
They laugh because that is what you do when someone says he can do the impossible. They laugh a little at God, and a lot with God— for God is laughing, too. Then, with the smile still on his face, he gets busy doing what he does best—the unbelievable.
He changes a few things—beginning with their names. Abram, the father of one, will now be Abraham, the father of a multitude. Sarai, the barren one, will now be Sarah, the mother.
But their names aren’t the only things God changes. He changes their minds. He changes their faith. He changes the number of their tax deductions. He changes the way they define the word impossible.
But most of all, he changes Sarah’s attitude about trusting God. Were she to hear Jesus’ statement about being poor in spirit, she could give a testimony: “He’s right. I do things my way, I get a headache. I let God take over, I get a son. You try to figure that out. All I know is I am the first lady in town to pay her pediatrician with a Social Security check.”
From Upwords.com. Used by permission.