Scripture Reading: Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7

Genesis-18-verses-1ff-Abraham-and-Jesus-with-two-angelsI mentioned a few weeks ago that I came home in mid-August to preside at a couple of weddings. After church on the Sunday morning, Bev and I made our way to Orangedale to spend the night before starting the drive to Ontario the next morning. The kids were still with my parents and we were going to meet them outside Truro to pick them up for the trip.

As we left Bev’s parents’ to make our way back out to the highway, the car was shaking badly. I knew it was the brakes, right away. We had been having brake issues with the car for a year on and off. We thought it had finally been sorted out in July, but apparently not.

Here we are, at the very, very start of a 1500km drive, literally one minute in, and the car is undriveable.

Aside from wanting to take it back in Orangedale and drive it off the wharf into the Bras D’or lake, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

We’ve spent the better part of a year battling this issue, back and forth to the garage changing parts, even a couple of times in some instances, and the issue rears it’s ugly head at a most inconvenient moment.

A friend of the family owns a garage in Orangedale. So I turned around and drove back slowly to see if he could figure out what was wrong. We determined it to be a faulty emergency brake, so we pulled it off, tested it out and it seemed to work. We were back on the road, only an hour and a half behind schedule with a sigh of relief and some prayers for the journey.

But in that moment when the back end was vibrating horribly, we sincerely did not know whether we should laugh or cry.

Thankfully the rest of the trip was uneventful.

Our scripture reading this morning picks up with some other travellers. We’re told the Lord appears before Abraham in three men. Abraham offers some pretty incredible hospitality to these visitors.

“Here, put your feet up. Rest. Have a little bread. Enjoy yourself.”

Then he runs off and begins preparations for a huge feast for the visitors.

Reminds me of my grandmother when we’d show up for Sunday dinner. Here’s have a snack, dinner will be ready soon. Two hours later and we’re all on the living room floor unable to move because we ate so much food.

While it’s Abraham who is playing the host, with his wife Sarah and others working in the background to prepare the feast, it’s pretty clear this visit isn’t about him.

“Where’s your wife Sarah?” they ask.

“In the tent,” Abraham replies.

One of the guests says, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.”

Sarah is close enough in the tent to hear the conversation, and when she hears these words what does she do? She laughs.

We’re told both Abraham and Sarah are old, and Sarah is well past the age of being able to have a child. So, in a way, this is pretty funny.

The problem is, this isn’t the first time they have heard this promise. Abraham and Sarah are living where they are living because God told them to go there. And in going there, this was part of a greater promise that they would have more descendants than stars in the sky. And years after this promise, they are still childless.

They are probably at a point in their lives where they are feeling God has forgotten them, or, even worse, gone back on his promise. Maybe they were thinking God decided they weren’t worthy of having a child.

I’m sure there are nights when they go to bed together and weep because they have been unable to fulfill this part of the promise. Once they hit a certain age they just knew it wasn’t going to happen, so they mourn in the realization there cannot be children in their home.

So when Sarah hears these words spoken, I’m sure she’s hit with grief as she remembers those many nights, and she doesn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. She remembers the promise from years ago, and how she and Abraham have struggled to understand what the promise ultimately means at this stage in their lives.

Sarah makes a comment in her laughter which hints to the pain. She says, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” There is even a hint here that maybe Abraham has passed the age where he can do much about the issue either.

But the Lord says to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Did you hear it?

There are some pretty powerful words in there. Right in the middle. You might have missed it because they come between repeating Sarah’s question and the reiteration of the promise of a son.

He said, “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?”

Those words hit Sarah hard. It changed her demeanor.

The next verse says, “But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid.”

These words of promise caused Sarah to react with fear. She had resigned herself to never having children. Her age and her body have made that abundantly clear. But God has challenged those assumptions. God, in His promise, has said just because you think it works this way, doesn’t mean it’s true. And she became afraid.

“Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?”

We then pick up the reading in Genesis 21. Sarah becomes pregnant and has a son. This happens not a week later but a few years later. She’s even older now. In the meantime we skipped over the verses where she and Abraham decided to take this promise into their own hands. They think that maybe it’s more important that Abraham will father a child and Sarah offers one of her servants, Hagar, to be the mother. And so Ishmael is born.

But that’s not the promise. The promise was Sarah will bear a son. There’s a whole ugly mess that happens and eventually Ishmael and Hagar and sent away from the village. Humans trying to create God’s plan doesn’t usually end well. But God recognized Hagar and Ishmael and promises to care for them as well. And He does.

The promise, the original promise, heard decades ago, is finally fulfilled. Abraham and Sarah have their son. Abraham is one hundred years old, and Sarah is just a few years younger.

Sarah says “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me. Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” Not to mention her own age at this point either as she is well into her 90s.

They name their child Isaac. A very appropriate name because it means “laughter”.

God made a promise to this couple, many years before it finally came to be. This promise seemed impossible after a certain point. It seemed like God had forgotten them or was delusional in expecting something like this to happen.

But it didn’t work out that way at all.

“Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?”

Jesus was teaching one day and a young man came up to him and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told him he had to sell all his possessions and give the proceeds to the poor.

He then told his disciples that those who are rich and rely on their wealth and possessions will find it hard to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact it would be easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle.

The disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus replied, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27)

God’s kingdom is far too great for us to get there on our own. In fact, Jesus just said it’s impossible.

We often may think it’s all about what we do that gets us into heaven. It’s all about what we do that will reveal God’s plan.

It doesn’t happen that way.

God’s plan is revealed in God’s timing. God’s plan is revealed as God plans it to happen, despite our own efforts and plans.

And sometimes God does something we could never anticipate because, for our minds, it’s impossible.

But God does the impossible.

God brings a child into the world through an old couple. Just as he promised.

God brings a child into the world in other impossible ways too. A virgin gave birth to a son. Just as he promised.

And in this son, God offers himself to the entire world. He is a teacher and a prophet, but he is much, much more than that.

Jesus Christ is God himself in human form. Jesus shows us how to live, but he especially shows us what the kingdom of heaven will be like, and how we can get there.

We don’t completely understand it, it’s far too great for us to comprehend.

But those words… those words spoken to Sarah.

“Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?”

Is anything too great. Is anything too hard? Is anything impossible?


In Jesus, God shows us nothing is too great, too hard or too impossible for Him.

His promises never fail.

He is with us. He does not forget us. He never leaves us.

This is the beauty of our God. When we trust Him, when Jesus Christ is Lord of our life and our salvation, His promise is always with us.

I’ve had a number of conversations with pastors over the last few years about what the church is doing in Cape Breton. I had a meeting just this past Friday with another pastor and of course we talked about our churches and what we think God is up to.

Most pastors I talk to believe God is getting ready for something huge, right here in Cape Breton. We believe, as I do too, that God is getting ready to unleash His Holy Spirit on this island in a powerful way. A way in which thousands of lives will be changed for the better. A time in which Jesus Christ will be known in a new way as people give their lives to him.

And I believe Carman will be part of this.

How do you feel? Do you feel like you should laugh? Does this sound like a most impossible task? Do these words fill you with fear because we don’t know what will happen?

“Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?”

The answer is, “Nothing.”

Nothing is too wonderful for Him.

He is life. He is love. He is our hope and our salvation.

When we put our trust in Him, we open ourselves to things that are just too wonderful for us to understand, but in His love, we will receive.

Thanks be to God. Amen.