5“Look toward heaven and count the stars.”
The stars are not part of my daily world in this place; they are an abstract reality. I have seen the images from the Hubble Space Telescope. I know that the stars are beyond number. I know that the heavens are full of stars being born and passing away – and the host of the Milky Way is but one among countless galaxies. But I do not see them at night. The light of a million homes and business keeps them largely from view.
It’s hard to imagine the world of Abraham, where no lights obscure the stars, where every night is like those I spent at the top of the Rockies, hardly able to sleep for the wonder. Beneath such a sky one night, struck by awe, Abraham hears again that the gift of God is beyond imagining.
“Count the stars.” As impossible as it is to number them, so impossible is it to comprehend the extent of God’s grace and love.
With eyes downcast, Abraham laments because he sees none of this. With eyes on today and his frail body, his heir will be Eliezer of Damascus: a servant of his household not a child of his family. To his eyes, his name will come to an end with his death, the journey from his homeland ending in an unvisited grave.
Count the stars, Abraham. Count the stars.
It is difficult to imagine that God can bring the chaos of this world into his peace, difficult to see a future where the lion lies down with the lamb. It is difficult to see that there could be healing for our families or healing for our hearts, difficult to imagine that the many wounds we inflict upon one another can find some truce let alone reconciliation. We seem to be inherently warring creatures. Even those who claim the name of Jesus are an often unpleasant lot. Looking only at ourselves, the heir of our house will be some developer building condos or converting church buildings into nightclubs.
Count the stars Abraham. Count the stars.
God proves nothing to Abraham; he only speaks the promise once more. But the promise is enough. Abraham’s heart is captured. The stars turn from cold and distant lights into heaven’s encircling embrace of the world.
And Abraham’s trust is righteousness.