DEVOTIONAL GUIDE: Find joy in the unexpected

God's promises to Abram/Abraham were full of surprises.

Rev. Steve Norby
Contributed / Steve Norby

In our tradition this Sunday is the second Sunday in Lent. One of the readings will be Genesis 12:1-4a. It is the “call” of Abram to leave Haran and trust that God will bring him to a “promised land.”

“I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you … and in you all families of the earth shall be blessed.” Abraham and Sarah parent the creation of the Jewish nation through a child of promise named Isaac. For Islam, Abraham and Hagar parent the creation of the Arab nation through a child named Ishmael. Through Jesus, Abraham and Sarah parent the expansion of blessing to the Gentile world.

In 1978, President Carter brokered a peace accord between Egypt and Israel that holds to this day. At the White House, Anwar Sadat from Egypt said to Menahem Begin from Israel that they were cousins. Why? Because both leaders trace their lineage to Abraham. Hagar was Egyptian.

Genesis 12:4b reads: “Abram was 75 years when he departed from Haran.” Haran would become what is known today as Syria.

The God of Scripture chooses the unexpected. Certainly a man of 75 years was not anticipating uprooting his family and relocating. Abram must have had a sense of humor at God’s selection. Sarah certainly did when she laughed at the news that she was pregnant. Isaac in Hebrew means laughter in English.


Our newness of life includes the gifts of wisdom and joy. In our world that is so amped up, humor with a good dose of not taking yourself too seriously has never been needed more than today.

So I leave with you proverbs of joy that are not found in the Bible.

  1. A happy believer is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
  2. Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
  3. Some mistakes are just too much fun to make only once.
  4. If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
  5. If you lend someone $100 and never see that person again, it was worth it.
  6. The second mouse gets the cheese.
  7. When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.
  8. Never buy a car you can’t push.
  9. You may be only one person in this world, but you will also be the world to many more than just one person.
  10. Finally, save the earth. It’s the Christian thing to do – after all, it is the only planet we know that has chocolate!

Rev. Steve Norby serves as lead pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Park Rapids.
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