August 15, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Genesis 15:5 (NRSV)
[God] brought [Abram] outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
I am not hopeless because I count the stars. Often in the story of Abram/Abraham, the Lord invited him to look up at the sky. It usually occurred after a time of disappointment. There are two ways to count the stars. I count the times of God’s past faithfulness in my life and the many ways God was a living preposition; the resolution had come by going through, above, around, or under the pain and never quite with the results that I expected. I also count the stars by considering that God’s faithfulness came through friends who become stars and signs of hope to me.
I sat outside of my house under a dark yet starry night to take a phone call. I shared with a friend and fellow local pastor some disappointing obstacles in the church-planting journey. An enormous possibility had fallen through and I was discouraged and disoriented. He asked me a poignant question: “Do you feel hopeless?” Instinctively I looked up at the sky pondering my answer. I saw the twinkle of stars and galaxies far. “I cannot deny that the circumstances seem hopeless, but I am not without hope.” He dug again: “HOW are you not hopeless, though?”
I am not hopeless because I count the stars.
Often in the story of Abram/Abraham, the Lord invited him to look up at the sky. It usually occurred after a time of disappointment. On my dark starry night, I told my friend that it felt like Lot had just taken the best part of the land of the Jordan. Abram may have thought he was left with the scraps or none at all. In our particular verse above, we hear the promise of an heir even while Abram was childless. Abram could not see the signs of descendants, but God showed him the signs of God’s promises. Count the stars, if you are able to count them…
There are two ways to count the stars. I have counted the times of God’s past faithfulness in my life and the many ways God was a living preposition. The resolution had come by going through, above, around or under the pain and never quite with the results that I expected. I have also counted the stars by considering that God’s faithfulness came through friends. They became stars and signs of hope to me. At that time the individual calls, emails, texts and words of encouragement strengthened my resolve and resilience. A former pastor gave me a short leadership talk: “This is a momentary setback, but in the end they reveal greater blessings to those who persist in prayerful pursuit. Please take it from someone who’s been there before and learn to pivot from disappointment to determination. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.”
Count the stars, fellow pilgrims. The way around the pain and the witnesses to the pain are signs of God’s presence and promise.
How have you pivoted from disappointment to determination?
Who in your life has been a star and a sign of God’s presence and promise?
Thank a former mentor, coach, friend, coworker, teacher, or pastor for being a sign of God’s presence in your life during a time of disappointment. Send them a short handwritten note in the mail.
God of the stars, maker and placer of stars, you who know the stars by name, who placed them in the heavens, you who keep the planets orbiting in perfect motion, we pray to you, our Creator. For times of dark disappointment, would you be the lifter of our countenance and the comfort of our weary souls. Would that we lift up our eyes to the heavens and count the stars. Teach us to number the ways in which your faithfulness has been made known in our lives. Teach us to trust your faithfulness even as we defy the darkness with that simple trust. May our faithfulness be marked by your perfect fidelity. Grant us grace. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Abraham’s Faithfulness Contrasted with the Faithlessness of Babel (Genesis 12:1-3)