September 18, 2017
“Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18:14 (NIV)
I rubbed my eyes and looked again, but the scene before me hadn’t changed.
I had just pulled into a fast food drive-thru and now realized the cause of the long line and delay. There was a man driving a tractor ordering at the speaker!
Those of us who’ve lived in rural areas know tractors on the road are a fact of life. However, just being “the norm” doesn’t make them any less irritating if you’re in a hurry. Recently, I was in a rush as I followed a tractor down a narrow two-lane road. Once my patience was stretched to its limit, I completely lost it and started yelling, “Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!” Amazingly, my impatience didn’t speed up the procession at all.
How many times have I approached God’s timing the same way? God rarely operates at a pace that pleases me, and I want Him to hurry, hurry, hurry! I’ve prayed impatient prayers for a job, for marriage, for children and even a greater understanding of His Word.
Just this week, I found myself reminding God that I’m about to have a significant birthday … as if He’d forgotten. There’s a dream in my heart that feels like it has an expiration date, so I was pleading with God to fulfill it quickly, before my bones are too creaky to do what I know He’s called me to do.
There was a woman in the Bible who also felt past her prime and had trouble with God’s timing. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, felt impatient just like I feel impatient. After waiting 10 years for the baby God had promised her (Genesis 12-21), Sarah decided to help God hurry. Surely 10 years was too long for anybody to wait, she likely reasoned.
So Sarah gave her maidservant Hagar to her husband, and the two of them had a child. Even our modern-day television dramas don’t hold a candle to what ensued! It turned out “helping” didn’t help, and the promise still wasn’t fulfilled.
Fourteen years later, Sarah and Abraham had a visitor who reminded them of God’s promise, causing Sarah to laugh out loud and say, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” (Genesis 18:12b, NIV)
Do you hear your disbelief and questions about God’s timing echoed in Sarah’s? I hear mine. Now, Lord? I thought this would happen years ago. Aren’t You just a little late?
God answered Sarah’s question in a way that answers ours, too. “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son” (Genesis 18:14).
Less than a year later, Isaac, the child whom God had promised 25 years before, was born. God was not late. His timing was perfect. It was Sarah who had been in a hurry, but God called Isaac’s birthday “the appointed time.”
According to the dictionary, “appointed” means “predetermined; arranged; set.” Isaac’s birth came at the exact time God had planned all along!
God may seem like a tractor in the road, slowing down our dreams, but He knows the entirety of our story from beginning to end. He also knows how our story weaves into the lives of others. We may be tapping our watches, but He is never late. He may seem slow, but He’s always right on time. God Himself holds the appointed time in His hands.
Has God made a promise to you that seems delayed? Has He planted a dream in your heart that has not yet come to pass? You can see I’ve struggled with impatience too, but let’s stand together in confident hope! God is faithful, and we can rely on His perfect timing.
Dear God, sometimes I don’t understand Your timing. It’s hard to wait, but I trust You. I want to rely on Your ways, Your thoughts and Your perfect timing. Help me learn what I need to learn as I wait, and help me resist rushing Your plan. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (NIV)
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Are you grieving a dream that seems too late? Pick up a copy of Wendy Pope’s book Wait and See for refreshment and encouragement in the wait.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Write down some of the plans or dreams you believe God has given you.
Assess your response. Have you manipulated circumstances to try to see those dreams come true, or are you trusting God’s timing?
© 2017 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.
Originally published Monday, 18 September 2017.