Summary: Learning to waint of God
The Waiting is the Hardest Part
If you live in Dallas, one of the privileges is having to deal with the enormous traffic problem on almost a daily basis. I was reminded of this problem recently when I took a day trip to check on our house. I guess living in the traffic on a daily basis you don’t realize how bad it really is until you spend some time away. To make matters worse the day I went to Dallas it was raining.
From Lewisville to Denton, it seemed to be bumper to bumper and I never got over forty miles an hour. Needless to say, I grew impatient. I was gripping on the steering wheel waiting for something to happen, waiting for someone to move. I was frustrated because I had a destination in mind, but it seemed as though I would never get there. When I crossed the state line and read the sign that said welcome to Oklahoma, I was relieved.
My story illustrates a fact about human nature: we humans don’t like to wait. We have fast food restaurants because we don’t like to wait. We will avoid restaurants if the line is to long. Just a few days ago I opted out of not receiving a nice new carrying bag that the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoman was giving to messengers because I did not want to wait in the line.
The ABC show 20/20 once did an experiment on waiting and self-control with children. The children in the experiment were given two choices. They could have a single treat, one cookie, right now. If they could wait while the reporter ran an errand, they could have two cookies. Some of the preschoolers grabbed the single cookie immediately; while others waited up to twenty minutes to receive their two cookies. Those who wanted the two cookies used all kinds of tactics to sustain themselves. Some covered their eyes so that they would not see the cookies set before them. Some rested their heads on their arms, talked to themselves, sang, and even tried to sleep. The follow-up of this study revealed that those who were able to wait and forgo the instant gratification kept that same temperament throughout their adolescence. The more impulsive kids who gave into instant gratification were more stubborn, indecisive, and stressed.
In the life of faith the waiting on God is the hardest part. Just has we dislike waiting at restaurants, in lines, and in traffic, we also dislike waiting on God to act on our behalf. It is not that we don’t want God to act; it is just that we want him to act on our behalf in our timing and not his. We know that God wants to teach us patients, but we want him to hurry up and do it.
In the sixteenth chapter of the book of Genesis we see Abram and Sarai struggling with waiting on God. They are growing impatient. In Abram and Sarai’s growing impatience we see why the waiting is the hardest part.
I. The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Verse one shows that Abram and Sarai are in God’s waiting room, “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children.” We started off with the narrative concerning Abram in the last part of chapter eleven were we were told that Sarai was barren. She had no children. Yet, God had promised Abram that he would be a “great nation” and that his descendants would outnumber the dust of the earth and the stars of the heavens, but still not child. Abram and Sarai were in God’s waiting room, in God’s holding pattern. Verse three tells us just how long they had been in this pattern, “After Abram had lived ten years in the land.”
The ten years in the land reveals the time period between God’s promise of a child which took place in chapters eleven and twelve and the current situation in chapter sixteen. They had been waiting for God to fulfill his promise of a seed for ten years.
Abram was wondering how God would fulfill this promise back in chapter fifteen when asked the Lord if it would be Eliezer, his servant, who would be the heir, and the Lord told him that Abram’s heir would be from his own body.
Now the Lord never specifically said specifically that the seed would come through both Abram and Sarai, but it sure is implied in verse one where the narrative says that Sarai was Abram’s wife. This designation of Sarai as Abram’s wife points us back to the second chapter of Genesis where we see God creating the institution of marriage. A man shall leave his father and mother and become one flesh with his wife. God’s creative intention is that there be one man and one woman in marriage and that procreation would take place through this institution.