Believe the Promise

Genesis 15.1-5

Matthew 6.25-34

 

Bonan matenon

 

Well that is good morning in Esperanto. Now until recently I have rather thought that Esperanto was a good idea. After all a universal language with simple grammar that can be learned in a few hundred hours seems a grand concept.

 

However, a while back, I caught the end of a radio interview with a proponent of this lingua franca. She started by giving its worldly benefits. Then she said it was the language of the spirit world – OK! It is also the language spoken in heaven – hmm this is getting silly I thought. Finally, she proclaimed that it is even spoken by Mozart who is alive and living in his house on Jupiter. That’s it – obviously this is a load of utter codswallop!

Yet deep down I still feel it was a shame. Because the idea of everyone able to communicate in one language still seems a meritorious one.

 

So were the childless Abram’s hopes in a similar category as the Esperanto pipe dream? Or instead had it a basis in experience that would allow faith not so much in a mere dream as a cast-iron promise?

 

Well yes it had. For if we read the paragraphs before the culminating promise of God to Abram, he seemed to be living as if that promise had already been given. He was already living out an acceptance as God as shield and benefactor. For, earlier in Genesis, we hear of him leaving his ancestral lands at the urging of God. He then worshipped God even in the wilderness. He entered the dangerous new territory of Egypt under the Lord’s guidance and finally he fought in the name of God for Lot.

 

And, throughout these act of ever deepening trust, he had the experience of realising again and again the promise of God; the promise to make his hopes a living reality.

 

No wonder then his faith was credited as righteousness. For he had acted for the divine and the divine had acted for him. Or even, he had trusted God in the dream and so the dream came true. For the promise was indeed a reality!

 

Talking of living the dream and making it a reality, it is one of the great adventure stories of all time. It came from the then war ravished country of Norway in 1947.  Because Thor Heyerdahl wanted to test the theory that people from South America could have settled the Polynesian Islands in the South Pacific long before Columbus sailed to the New World.
So Heyerdahl took a small team of men to Peru, where they constructed a raft out of balsa logs. These logs were tied together with rope much as a group of sailors might have done in earlier, less sophisticated times. Heyerdahl named the raft the Kon-Tiki. He and his crew of five then set out on the Pacific from the coast of Peru and sailed the raft over 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean before smashing into a reef in Polynesia 101 days later. They had accomplished their goal.  And, as you doubtless know, Heyerdahl wrote a best-selling book about their adventure entitled, Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft.

 

Here then is a tale of faith in a dream and that faith being repaid by the dream coming true. True not just for Kon-tiki’s crew but for a nation coming out the hopelessness of German occupation and into the promise of freedom and democracy.

 

With the inspiring stories of Abram and Kon Tiki before us, what then stops us from following our dreams, of relying on our promise from God and from making our faith a reality?

 

Well, whilst there could be a hundred and one reasons, the most common are worries. For it could be argued fears, concerns and anxieties do more harm on a daily basis to the Church than any utterance by Richard Dawkins.

 

Jesus knew this only too well. And, as a result, he gave us his wisdom to worry about today and leave tomorrow to look after itself. Put simply have faith to worry less and hope for more.
While the Kon-tiki venture was successful, it was not without worries. During the three-month journey, the crew of the Kon-Tiki had little control over the direction of the little raft and no way to stop its forward progress. They learned early in the voyage that anything dropped overboard was almost impossible to recover once the raft had left it behind.
Two months into the voyage and thousands of miles from land, the actual craft builder, Herman Watzinger, lost his footing and fell overboard. The raft, driven by a strong wind in heavy seas, moved ahead faster than Herman could swim. The five remaining men were naturally horrified. They tried to throw Herman a life belt on a rope, but the wind blew it back at them. In seconds, Herman was all but lost to their sight in the mass of waves.
Suddenly Knut Haugland, a veteran of the famous Telemark Raid, grabbed the life belt and dove into the water. He swam back to Herman and wrapped his arm around him, holding his exhausted friend and the rope while the men on the boat pulled them both back to the safety of the raft.  All six of the men subsequently finished the journey unharmed.

 

Here then is why Abram could hope of having more ancestors more than the stars. Here is why Jesus counsels seek your righteous dream over the corrosive acid of worry. Since just as our courageous resistance hero saved the dream builder, Christ rescues us when or hopes are all at sea, when faith is tested and we are the unequal of our vision’s demands. He battles through the storms of our minds, bodies and souls when in pursuit of better ambitions. He cuts through the sometimes engulfing waves and depressing calms with his promise – do not be afraid – I am your shield and your very great reward.

 

So if tonight we are blessed with clear skies, look up and remember God’s vow to Abram. Now, you will probably not see the asteroid named after Thor Heyerdahl. But you might just see something else. You might spy your own dream shooting upwards and then by heaven into the stars.

 

Amen