1After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” 2But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:1-6).
One of the most stunning sights that I can remember happened one night while I was working as a commercial fisherman on the East Coast of England on my father's fishing boat. At the time, I was working the boat all alone during the night. Way past midnight, more than 8 miles from land, I set the boat to automatic pilot and turned off all the lights on deck. Then I went out on the deck, laid down flat on my back on one of the unused nets, and looked up at the stars. Have you ever been away from civilization where there are no lights and looked at the stars on a clear night? It is one of the most stunning sights of this world. There wasn't a cloud in the sky that night, and no artificial lights to hinder the view. I sensed the Lord telling me that there was more to my life than spending most of my waking hours working in solitude miles away from people on my father's fishing boat. That moment is one that I will always remember, and the sight of that night sky will always stick with me. It was a moment when I became convinced that the future held something different for me and that God would teach me a different kind of fishing.
Instead of using a net, I would learn to use the Word of God. Instead of catching fish, I would learn to fish for men; a call that Jesus made to His early disciples (Matt 4:19). I felt I had to lean on Christ and put my heart into serving in whatever way I could. In my serving, the Lord would train me. God gave Abram a vision that would sustain him and shape him for the rest of his life. He told him to go outside of his tent and look up at the stars. Count the stars, if indeed you can count them—so shall your offspring be. God gave Abram a vision or dream that he could hold in his mind; a vision that would enable him to persevere in his faith through many challenges. As we look at the nation of Israel, we see that God fulfills His Word, and not only on a physical level, but God brought forth from Abram’s faith, a spiritual people—a people of faith in God all over the world.
The Lord changed Abram's name to Abraham. At this point in the account of his story, his name was still Abram, which means exalted father, but God would give him a name change to reflect the vision that he held in his heart from that day. He would be called Abraham—Father of a multitude. What vision do you keep in your heart? Does this vision shape your daily actions? Are you working towards fulfilling it? If you have no insight or vision as to your future, God wants to plant one in your heart. Life is not about living for this world, but for the next. May a vision of how God wants to use you begin to take hold of your life and propel you to be closer to God. Keith Thomas