"At the set time."
That phrase keeps playing over in my head like a tape recording. It's from Genesis 21:2. Our pastor, Joe Champion, was out of town yesterday, and while I absolutely hate it when he's gone (yes, I'm selfish and want to keep Pastor Joe all to ourselves, even though I know he's such an amazing preacher/speaker that churches all over the world ask him to come) so we had a visiting pastor fill in. Pastor Steve Robinson is a friend of Joe's from college days and let me tell you, Pastor Steve did a great job! His message on Abraham was exactly what I needed to hear! And I'm sure the other 5,000+ Celebration Church family members agree!
It was, in fact, such a great and timely message for me, I have to blog about it!!
Abraham and Sarah were old. Genesis 12:4 tells us Abram, as he was called then, was seventy-five when God promised to make him into a great nation. Sarah was ten years younger than her husband. Not exactly childbearing years, no? But, if God said Abram would become a great nation, then surely it would come to pass! Surely God would give them a baby after all these years.
Well, days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and months turned into years. Eleven years to be exact and still there was no baby in sight. We all know it's not easy to wait, especially when you're waiting for something that means so much to you. I've been waiting for something a long time now, so I know how Sarah felt. I know the despair that consumed her, to the point of taking things into her own hands in Genesis 16:1-4. I've nearly taken things into my own hands a time or two, but thankfully that still, small voice in my heart that whispers "Wait" got a little louder and kept me from signing a contract I'm sure I would later regret. But Sarah, bless her heart, didn't listen to the voice. She gave her maidservant Hagar to her eighty-six year old husband and Hagar bore him Ishmael. And we all know Ishmael was not the son God promised Abraham. Sarah realized it too, but it was too late by that point. We all have had to deal with the consequences of her impatience.
The wait for the promised son continued.
When Abraham was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers." (Genesis 17:1-2) Abraham was a bit skeptical, as I'm sure most ninety-nine year old men would be, but that didn't stop God from keeping his promise. Isn't that good news? Despite our failings, God doesn't quit on us. He had a plan and no amount of interference or doubt on Abraham's part would prevent that plan from coming to be.
"Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him." Genesis 21:2 NIV
The King James version says, "at the set time."
Don't you absolutely love that??
At the set time.
Abraham was one hundred years old! Sarah was ninety! Twenty-five years had passed since God first made the promise to Abraham to make him into a great nation. Yet it was exactly the right time! It was the time God planned all along.
Pastor Steve gave us three solid points based on this story:
1) God has a dream for us!
2) Delays are always inevitable.
3) God's timing is perfect.
Waiting isn't easy. But I love being reminded that God has a plan! A perfect plan. All I have to do is wait. Patiently. Obediently. And if I'm ninety when God gives me my hearts desire....well...at least it's not a baby I'm waiting for! :)