We tend to glamorize these saints. They do appear in the “Hall of Faith” – Hebrews 11. But…they were also pretty “sketchy figures”. Sketchy and a little crazy by today’s standards (which admittedly is pretty hard to pull off). Read on to see what I mean–
Pretend like you’ve NEVER heard this next part:
TWICE Abraham has Sarah pose as his sister so that other men wouldn’t kill him to get his wife (Gen. 12:13, Gen. 20:2). To the point that the the men (a Pharaoh and a king) took her in with amorous intent).
WHAT?!?! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT??? (all caps indicate I’m shouting at the top of my lungs in shock and hysteria) USING HIS WIFE? BEING A COWARD? WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS ABRAHAM THINKING?? THAT IS CRAZY!!!!! HOW IN THE WORLD CAN GOD USE A GUY LIKE THAT???
Again – suspend reality and pretend like you’ve never read the next part:
God promises them a son. But they don’t believe God. So Sarah says “Abraham – go have sex with my servant Hagar. Get her pregnant.” And Abraham has sex with Hagar (Gen. 16:2).
CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT??? (all caps indicate I’m shouting at the top of my lungs…and now steam is coming out of my ears in cartoon-like fashion) WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS SARAH THINKING?? VIVA LAS VEGAS MAYBE??? HOW IN THE WORLD CAN GOD USE A GUY LIKE THAT??? HOW IN THE WORLD CAN GOD USE A WOMAN LIKE THAT???
This a seriously messed up couple. Seriously – can you imagine your reaction if you met a couple like this today?
And yet…God names them in Hebrews 11, which is a listing of people who, get this…lived by faith.
Hebrews 11:13 All these people (included Abraham and Sarah) were still living by faith when they died. How can God possibly name them among the faithful?
Here’s how. Abraham and Sarah are not commended for their perfection in their practice or their perfection in their faith, but for their persistence in their faith.
Through the ups and down, the success and failing, they walked with the God who for 62 years – decade after decade, walked with them from their hometown of Ur…to Canaan.
Just as remarkable I think, they persisted together. They were married for 100 years. Sarah was with Abraham from Ur to until the day she died. And Hebrews 11:11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him/God faithful who had promised. Did you get that? Sarah persisted in her belief. She carried on in her belief.
What I want, and I want for you, is to persist, or “carry on” in your belief in the goodness and greatness of God. God is good, and God is great. I want you and I to carry on in that until the very, very end.
Keep Calm and Carry On
One thing I noticed in London recently was the presence of this poster. Designed in 1939 to encourage folks at the beginning of WW2. After the war these words were forgotten. A bookseller found a small paper poster like this, framed it, put it in his bookshop. Customers started requesting it, so he printed some up. With the 2008 economic downturn, this picture became famous. You can buy mugs, t-shirts, tea towels, phone covers. A BBC, news story posed the question “Is this the greatest motivational poster ever?”
Good word. When we are anxious, upset, worried, panicked – we begin to wring our hands mentally if not physically. And when we wring our hands mentally, we often make stupid decisions, we get sidetracked in our walk of faith, we major on the minors and minor on the majors… and our hand wringing demonstrates our lack of trust in God.
I can keep calm and carry on b/c God makes a lot of promises about you and me in Scripture – for those who follow Christ. One is 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Put your anxiety on Him, and His peace will be on you. Keep calm, and carry on.
One of my favorite promises is Phil. 1:6 He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it. At least a few of you reading this need it because you’ve lost hope…in yourself, in your marriage, in your competence, in your kids, maybe even in God.
You don’t know how you’re going to make it. You don’t know if you’re going to make it. If you are in Christ, don’t give up – Jesus – who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it.
You say “I can’t ever change! I keep failing again and again!” Listen – just like Abraham and Sarah – your life will never be about perfection-not till heaven…it’s about persisting, carrying on in the belief that Christ is king, He is great, He is good, and He will be faithful to complete in you…the good work…He began. He has it under control.
The same God that walked with Sarah and Abraham, who walked with them together…He is faithful to walk with you in your personal life, in your marriage, in your career, in your health, in you. Keep calm…and carry on.