It is amazing to me, when I stop and think about it, how long Abraham and Sarah waited for God to fulfill the promise made to them. They waited in faith, with a few detours off that path of trust, for decades. Decades! They were so past the age of bearing children when Isaac was finally born. Had it been me, I would have believed that I had mis-heard God; that it was all a bad dream. I can hardly wait five minutes! The kind of faith Abraham and Sarah demonstrated is something we should all aspire to.
These people also left their home country to a place that was completely foreign to them. The God they were following was completely foreign to the culture around them. I am not sure how many of their friends and relatives were supportive of this wild upheaval they were engaging in. As they traveled, Abraham and Sarah kept doing their daily routines, building up their herds and servants, growing quite large and wealthy as a family uni. Yet, always lurking in the background was this Promise. Periodically, God would show up and give Abraham a bit of encouragement, repeating the promise. There were a lot of years of silence in between those times, years when Abraham must have wondered where he had heard wrong, wondered what God was really up to. Finally, when they are “as good as dead” (Hebrews 11:12), God shows up again in the form of three mysterious visitors. Shortly thereafter, Sarah is pregnant and the dream is off to the races.
When I really ponder this story, it takes my breath away. The problem with the Biblical record is that the story that took six or eight decades to complete happens in a few chapters in the Bible. It is easy to assume that things progressed far more quickly than they did in reality.
This helps me. Nearing the end of my fifth decade, I know the prayers that I have prayed for myself and for others that have yet to come to fulfillment. I have had bits of encouragement along the way, insights into how to pray more fully, small incremental changes in attitudes and behaviors but the fulfillment of what I have sensed God calling me or my loved ones to has not reached its completion. The long, unwavering faithfulness of Abraham gives me a chance to ponder that a thousand years on earth is like an evening gone in God’s sight (Psalm 90:4). I am of infinite value and worth as evidenced by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. However, I am also one of the specks of sand that is part of Abraham’s spiritual descendants. It is exhilarating and humbling at the same time.
My desire in this Lent, a word that means “lengthen,” is to broaden my view of the working of God and His Kingdom here on earth. God never forgets a promise; it will always be fulfilled. But I need to remember anew that God’s time is not my time. Lord, come quickly.