Have you ever eaten french fries the next day? It’s a weird question, I know, but roll with me for a moment. I LOVE fries! I don’t eat the bun of my burger because I want more room for the fries! However, when I take them home, they are never as good. Why? Because I want to eat them immediately so I microwave them instead of put them in the oven so they can crisp up again. I can’t wait that long! But I quickly regret my impulsiveness and tell myself that next time I will put them in the oven even though it takes longer.
Delayed gratification is not natural for me. Who wants to wait? Especially now that everything is at my fingertips. With high-speed internet and smartphones, there is no waiting. I used to get so frustrated at the little buffering icon that would pop up as I tried to load a page with dial-up internet. How dare it take one of my precious minutes away from my life. Who remembers that? And now, I get irritated if it takes more that two seconds for something to appear on my phone. Like my fries, I want the information I am seeking microwaved to me.
Waiting is hard. God asked Abram to wait a long time, decades, before his promise would be fulfilled! God’s promises, I’ve found, are slow-cooked to perfection in the oven, and not microwaved. Read on!
S – Scripture: Genesis 16-18
- 16:1-3 – “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, ‘The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.’ And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.)”
- 16:9-14 – “The angel of the LORD said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.’ Then he added, ‘I will give you more descendants than you can count.’ And the angel also said, ‘You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the LORD has heard your cry of distress. This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.’ Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, ‘You are the God who sees me.’ She also said, ‘Have I truly seen the One who sees me?’ So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). Abram was eighty-six when Ishmeal was born.”
- 17:1-3 – “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai–‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.’ At this, Abram fell face down on the ground.”
- 17:17-19 – “Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. ‘How could I become a father at the age of 100?’ he thought. ‘And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?’ So Abraham said to God, ‘May Ishmael live under your special blessing?’ But God replied, ‘No–Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant.'”
- 18:10-14 – “Then one of them said, ‘I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!’ Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, ‘How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master–my husband–is also so old?’ Then the LORD said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.'”
O – Observation:
- It had been ten years since Abram and Sarai moved to Canaan and God had made a covenant with him, promising a son and many descendants. Ishmael was born and then another thirteen years passed before Isaac would have been born. That’s 23 years of waiting for a promise to be fulfilled!
- Sarai and Abram take matters of getting a son into their own hands with the wedding of Hagar (Sarai’s servant) to Abram. This produces a son, Ishmael.
- Hagar starts treating Sarai with contempt and Sarai returns that with harshness. Hagar runs away and the Lord finds her at a well.
- The angel of the Lord promises the Ishmael will have many descendants as well. She names the well “God sees” and Ishmael “God hears.”
- Abraham and Sarah laugh when God tells them they will have a son in their old age. But the covenant is confirmed by a traveler.
- God is revealed as El-Shaddai (God Almighty), and that he sees and hears us.
- Sometimes we try to go ahead of God’s plan…it doesn’t work out as well, but God still uses it for good.
A – Application:
In the last blog post I encouraged you to sit with God for a moment and let him reveal some of the promises he has for you. What did he say? Silence isn’t a bad thing either, it means we have to trust that he has it under control and we don’t need to worry about it. Sometimes his promises are specific, or they can be vague. Today I got some very detailed promises that I’d like to share with you as an encouragement.
1.) Kids – I have confirmed through Stephanie (a dear friend of mine who spoke this to me years ago) that you would have children. And they will grow up to know me. Wait a little longer.
2.) Business – We are building the foundations. I am preparing a place and all of the people. It will all fall into place. Trust in me.
3.) Dan’s business – It will be big and life-changing. Hold on.
I wasn’t originally going to share this. These are some of the deepest desires of mine and have unfortunately caused some of the deepest hurts and uncovered my darkest fears. I do want children, the love and the crazy involved in parenting. I strongly desire to build something that matters in this world and makes a difference for people. My husband, bless him, I want to see him succeed because he wants to be a change in the world too. We want to give more and serve more.
But right now, in this moment, I am jobless, childless, sometimes hopeless. I have none of those things. But God spoke those promises clearly to me. I can’t deny them.
In Lara Casey’s book, “Cultivate” she talks about embracing the season you are in. For awhile, I was in a winter season. Everything seemed dead or dying, hopeless and dreary. Then spring came, a season of planting. I’m in that right now I think. Yes, I don’t have a job or kids, but I have time. God has blessed me with a season to rest and figure life out again. I want to use it wisely. I want to plant things that are going to grow and in the summer of my life, bloom and thrive.
Do you think Abraham was in a winter season for a time? God made a covenant with him and had him wait 23 years before allowing it to happen. Abraham wasn’t perfect in this, Ishmael is the proof of that. Him and Sarah even laughed at the thought of God working that promise out. They possibly had given up on it.
I don’t want to lose faith in the promises God has given me. I don’t want to laugh in God’s face and belittle his power. It’s difficult some days to imagine that God could do something with my life. Oftentimes I can’t see how God would use me in this big world. But he said he would and that gives me hope.
I love God’s response to Sarah’s laugh, “Is anything to hard for the Lord?” When we bought our house it was in January and we moved in in March. Snow was still on the ground and we had no idea what spring and summer would do to the many beds we saw in the yard. It’s difficult to see what a garden can become when it’s winter, or even spring when it’s still dirt and seeds. But then spring and summer came and WOW! it’s crazy beautiful all of the things that bloomed.
What season are you in? Do you think that there isn’t any hope for God’s promises to come true in your life? Embrace your season and trust that God is working in the dirt, with the seeds, and is going to make something beautiful.
P – Prayer:
God, forgive my unbelief today. I feel like Sarah. As much as I long for your promises to come true, I have trouble believing they are possible. I am trying to wait well, but today it’s hard. Renew your promises in me. Give me the strength to patiently endure the wait. Help me to use this time as a preparation for what have planned. Sow in me the tools necessary to live out your promises well when they do come. I put my faith in you. Amen.