SUNDAY SERMON: What makes you think you don’t limp?

Rev. Stephen Baldwin

OT: Genesis 17.1-7, 15-16

NT: Romans 4.13-25

At this point in his life, Abraham had been through some things. He and Sarah survived a famine, a kidnapping, even an attempt on their lives. And that was just the beginning. Then came plagues, war, and unfaithfulness. 

They are now elderly. With no children of their own. With numerous battle scars from their journey through life. And God says, “I will make a covenant with you, and your wife will give rise to nations and kings.” 

If you were Abraham and God said that to you, what would you say? 

You might say, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”  

What God promised made zero sense. Seemed impossible. No way, Jose. But that’s the thing about a covenant made by God. It doesn’t require us to understand it or comply with it or agree to it or even to support it. When God makes a covenant, it’s cut in stone. God keeps God’s promises, no matter what. 

That’s not to say that we don’t play a part in a covenant; we do. The covenant does not depend on us, but as Romans says, it depends on faith. Abraham chose to believe God’s promise. He did not choose to believe in the impossible thing God promises… but instead, he chose to believe God.

Some people criticize faith as a fairy tale or a crutch, but as the great preacher Bill Coffin liked to say, “What makes you think you don’t limp?” 

Abraham, the father of the Israelites, limped mightily. He made terrible decisions throughout the course of his life. He was one of the least likely people to lead a nation. Sarah was barren! She couldn’t have children and was supposed to mother kings and nations. What makes you think you don’t limp? 

I had a lady say something to me recently that really stuck with me. It’s something that I think a lot of people question. She said, “Why would God care about me? I’m nobody. I haven’t done anything great but I also haven’t done anything awful. So why would God care about me?” 

My heart broke as she spoke those words. She felt like she didn’t matter. We all feel like that sometimes. We are sinful, broken, limited beings who fall short of God’s glory each and every day. Sometimes our faith falters. It doesn’t seem as strong as it once was. It can keep us up at night. It can torment us in the privacy of our thoughts and prayers. It can make us wonder why God would love us, little old us, a speck of dust in the universe? 

And God says, “I will make a covenant with you.” A covenant is unbreakable. The word in Hebrew means cut in stone. God says, “I will bless you and I will bless Sarah,” and if God blesses them, then God’s grace is big enough for us too. We may feel like we are nobody, but we are somebody special to God. 

God cut a covenant with and built a nation of outcasts who were not good enough by the world’s standards. It didn’t make any sense then, and it doesn’t make a whole lot more sense now. But that’s who God is and who God calls us to be. 

Too often these days, the church is only known for saying who is not faithful enough, not Christian enough, not good enough. We get caught up in all kinds of petty details and forget our basic mission. To practice faith. Together. 

Faith is a practice. It’s something we must do, and something we must improve at doing. It requires failures and shortcomings. It requires patience and discipline. It requires God’s grace. It requires a crutch. What makes you think you don’t limp? Amen. 

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