One of the things that I think hurts Christianity is the cliches. People throw around phrases like, “Heaven gained another angel,” “There’s a reason for everything,” “God never gives us more than we can handle,” and I could go on and on. People say these things often when they don’t know what else to say. There’s always good intentions behind it, but it so oversimplifies Christianity. Even pop songs try to get in on the action. (See George Michael’s “You’ve got to have faith….” or Bon Jovi’s “Keep the faith” lyrics) By and large there’s nothing wrong with many of these cliches we hear, but because they are cliches they lose their impact and meaning. Whatever shred of Biblical truth that lies behind them falls on deaf ears.
Recently I have begun to notice another statement creeping up through the ranks to near-cliche status. “God-sized dream” Again, nothing wrong or harmful about this statement. However, because I’m hearing it so often, it is really losing its impact and beginning to become a gateway into the overly materialistic…..blending the idea of God’s omnipotence and ability to do anything with humanity’s insatiable desire to have more and more and more. Thank goodness, many Christians are careful about this. However, we all have to be mindful.
In Genesis 17:17 we find Abraham at age 100 and Sarah right behind him in her 90s. God has told them over and over and over again that he is going to give them many descendants. In fact, it was God’s plan that Jesus would eventually be a descendant. God’s just told Abraham that Sarah is going to become pregnant and have a child. And this is Abraham’s reaction, “Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” He laughed at God. He did not believe that was possible.
Of course, it happened just as God said. Isaac was born to Sarah. This really captures the idea behind the statement of having a God-sized dream. God wasn’t talking about pouring wealth on Abraham. It wasn’t anything silly like allowing Sarah to jump from the top of a mountain to the ground without breaking a bone. It was something considered humanly improbable but an act that allowed everyone to see the majesty and power of God. It was also something that led to the unfolding of God’s ultimately plan of Jesus becoming the divine human and ultimate sacrifice.
In today’s world we have to be careful not to overlook those miracles around us. My husband has had an aortic dissection and two blood clots in his lungs both of which were successfully treated with no lingering effects. These were miracles, but it’s so easy to discount them as just modern medicine. At age 36 I became unexpectedly pregnant with a wonderfully healthy son despite having dealt with infertility in my 20s to have my first son. Many people would just overlook this as a fluke. And then you have the religious cliches, again, that try to quickly and without thinking brush off the miracles. But both of these reactions undermine the amazement and wonder that should come with a miracle and the fulfillment of a God-sized dream.
I pray that as God occurs miracles in my daily life and as he fulfills these seemingly impossible feats, we are not so quick to try to explain them away, greet them with a cliche that does not require thinking, or to laugh at them as Abraham did.