An elderly gentleman, tired of the heat of the day, sat down in the doorway of his home to take a break and enjoy the gentle breeze on his face. Who knows how long he had been sitting there with his eyes closed, enjoy the kindness of the wind to cool his hot body, but when he opened them he saw three men standing nearby, taking a breather from their long walk.
The older man could have fallen back on any number of excuses that could free him from his responsibility to care for the stranger. He could have pretended he thought his macular degeneration was just playing tricks on him and didn’t thing the men were real. Or, better yet, he could claim his old eyes just didn’t see them at all. Who would argue with a ninety-something year old man?
But the gentleman knew what he say and knew that even if he lied to everyone else that he couldn’t lie to himself. Or God. These men were real.
Of course, there were other concerns, other questions: Why were these men traveling in such a remote location? Were they running from someone? Were they trying to escape the law? Were they just out looking for an opportunity to get rich quck. Maybe they had heard about the old, eccentric man living in the wilderness. The man who didn’t have any sons to protect him. The man who lived in squalor, but had more livestock than a person could shake a stick at, which meant he must have some money buried in a mason jar out back somewehre?
And then there was his wife. She was only marginally younger than he, which meant she was pretty old herself. And, if you asked the old gentleman what he thought, he’d tell you she was still drop-dead beautiful. What happened if these men tried to molest her? He and his wife combined would never be able to fight off these three, strapping young men. Wouldn’t it be selfish if he brought them home, exposed his dear wife to them?
His fears couldn’t outweight his sense of godly responsibility, though. And as much as he prided himeself on being a good husband, he couldn’t hide from those godly responsiblility behind his husbandly responsibilities.
But of course, he was old. And it was very hot. And maybe he could slither out from underneath his responsibilities by heaping them on the strangers’ backs. He could help them if only they came his way. After all, if he could see them, then they could see him. Wasn’t it really their choice if they didn’t come to him seeking shelter from the heat and something cool to drink? Yes–if they wanted help, all they must do is walk up to him and ask. He would help. Anyone who knew him knew his intentions were always good.
However, just sitting there, waiting for a group of strangers to come to him, didn’t seem to be the sort of thing God would smile upone. Maybe every other human being on the planet would smile and say, “We would’a done the same thing!”, but God wouldn’t and he knew it.
So, old as he was (remembere, he was ninety something), he didn’t just get up and go get the men–he RAN. He got up, wrinkles and arthritic joints and everything and he RAN.
But he didn’t stop there. He didn’t let things end with saying, “Come, rest in the shade, have a cold drink.” No, he called to that beautiful, marginally younger wife and told her to break out the best ingredients and make some of her famous baked goods. That, in iteself, was a tall order because of the heat, but he didn’t stop there. He told her to bake enough for an army. One can only assume he wanted to send the strangers on their way with stuffed doggy bags for their journey.
He then rushed out and hand picked his finest cuts of meat and called an employee to drop all that he was doing and grill the steaks as quickly as was possible. And then Abraham sat down with his visitors and treated them to a meal fit for a king.
It was only after he and his visitors had eaten their fill, only after Abraham had blessed these men by sharing his finest blessings with them, that Abraham received the blessing of a lifetime: A child.
That’s right. When Abraham and Sarah should have been bouncing great-grandbabies on their knees and rolling their eyes at the young parents who claimed they were spoiling the children, these messengers of the Lord told them they would have their own child to love. Diapers to change. Midnight feedings to be made. They, in their old age would have a toddler to chase around and to keep out of danger. They would spend their final years caring for a rebellious teenager. They would be eaten out of a house and home. They wouldn’t sleep well for years to come, at first for worry of their little child and then for worry of their older child.
But Abraham knew it was a blessing. He recognize this child for what it would be: A future.
If our churches would be as bold and as willing as Abraham, the landscape of our religion would look far different today. Rather than declining, aging congregations in buildings requiring more and more upkeep–we would be a people sitting in the doorway, waiting for an opporutnity and being blessed with a future we could have never dreamed was possible.
If we were perched in those doorways, looking for opportunities, and rushing to meet them like Abraham, we would lose track of the blessings we’d find along the way.
Abraham didn’t wait for oppurtunity to knock and as a result he was givin something he thought he was simply too old to hope for any longer–and we can find the same amazing blessings by willing to rush out and extend the invitation to enjoy our friendliness.
Abraham didn’t do it with expectations of a return–he just shared what he had. We should, too. We should be running to share what we have, and only when we become a people ready to share the blessings of the Lord will become, like Abraham, blessed to become like the “stars of the sky”.