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Hear and Believe

A Lent Reflection for Thursday, February 22 by Rev. Bronwyn Leigh Murphy

Lectionary reading for 2/22/2024:Psalm 22:23-31; Genesis 15:1-6, 12-18; Romans 3:21-31

Selected passage for reflection: Genesis 15:1-6, 12-18


Genesis 15:1-6, 12-18 NLT

1 Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.”

2 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3 You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.”

4 Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” 5 Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”

6 And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith

12 As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a terrifying darkness came down over him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. 14 But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. 15 (As for you, you will die in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.) 16 After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.”

17 After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. 18 So the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day and said, “I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt[a] to the great Euphrates River— 


Despite all evidence to the contrary, sometimes I still believe that I know exactly what God is doing, what He should do or what He will not do. That sounds ridiculous even typing it out, but it is true. The limits of my finite imagination of what is possible are on full display when my ignorance and arrogance impede my understanding and deference to God.

In Genesis 15, Abram had a choice to defer to God or not. We see God’s plan for Abram blow any plans Abram had for his life right out of the water. By any earthly measure, it would certainly be outlandish for Abram to think that his descendants would populate the Earth for generations as God promised when Abram had exactly zero children. In fact, it is such an outlandish thought that Abram surmises that one of his servants will have to fulfill the role. God then draws Abram’s attention to the stars in the sky–the unmistakable work of the Creator- to emphasize that God absolutely has a plan that is much more than Abram could hope for or imagine. In verse 6, Abram chooses to believe God’s word to him, though he has little tangible evidence to do so. In his belief, Abram is counted as right in the eyes of God–righteous. God’s incredible blessing then comes in the initiation of the Abrahamic Covenant in verse 18. Though they will face opposition and oppression, God will protect and multiply the children of Abraham. 

God’s plan for Abram is quite different from what Abram believed was possible as we see from his skepticism in verses 2-3. But God spoke and Abram heard the words of God as truth and promise. This divine truth and promise was far beyond any capacity Abram had to do for himself. Abram did not race ahead of God, nor did he hear the Word of God and forge his own path, but rather he heard and believed. 


In what area of your life do you allow ignorance or arrogance to usurp the voice of God? Are you trying to race out in front of God? Are you insistent on forging your own path? Take some moments to pause and listen. Resist the urge to tell God what you wish He would do and sit in the presence of God with the expectation that He has something to communicate to you.   


God, thank you that your ways are bigger, better and higher than our ways. Thank you that your plans and purposes extend far beyond the limits of my mind and will. Thank you that you know me, see me, love me and have a plan for me. Give me the humility necessary to trust your plan. Amen.

About the Author 

Bronwyn is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church currently serving in Northern California. Bronwyn is passionate about serving and equipping marginalized populations and challenging the church to build supportive, inclusive and accessible cultures for all. Her favorite beverage is a venti water with ice from Starbucks. 

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someone recently said "we aren't commanded to understand God. we are commanded to love God." this made me laugh out loud! because of course we aren't commanded to understand God; in fact, whenever God talks about understanding, God basically says, "don't even try." even though I would like to be able to tell God what to do, i am choosing to love God over understanding

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