God, Please Hurry Up

Abraham and Sarah had tried everything to have children. She was now ninety years old and he almost 100. They had probably been married for 75 years and had come to the conclusion that Sarah was barren and would never have children.

To make it worse, even if Sarah had not been barren, she now had passed the age of bearing children and Abraham was also now too old (Genesis 18:11). So, they had three problems: Abraham’s age, Sarah’s age and Sarah’s infertility.

In spite of these problems God had given them a promise, and continued to reaffirm that promise, that they would have many descendants. By this time Abraham was losing faith (Genesis 17:17) and Sarah was being mocked by her servant, Hagar, who had borne Ishmael. So why was the Lord not doing what he had promised and why was He still delaying?

It seems that there was yet one bit of unfinished business: Abraham had to be circumcised. While circumcision was a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham, it would also carry another meaning – that Abraham was willing to (symbolically) put a knife to his own ability.  You see, the problem was, that he still thought that he could help God out by fathering Ishmael. And who knows how many other human plans he would still construct before his death?

So God wanted him to be willing to cut off (symbolically) his own capability so that there would be a fourth obstacle to their ability to have children. This was not the only time God asked Him to use a knife to put an end to his own hopes and dreams. A few years later he would be called to raise the knife to kill his only son on the altar (Genesis 22:10).

Why did the Lord not give Abraham a son a lot sooner? Why did He have to wait so long before doing what He had planned to do anyhow? It is simple – He wanted Abraham, and everyone else, to be sure that Isaac was a miracle and that this was God’s supernatural provision and not just a natural result of Abraham’s ability. The Lord would do the same thing again in the future:

God waited until Gideon’s army had been whittled down to only three hundred men against the Midianite’s one hundred and thirty-five thousand! (Judges 8:10). God gives the reason why he wanted such a small minority: “And the Lord said to Gideon, "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, `My own hand has saved me” (Judges 7:2).

Jesus would repeat the same pattern many times: He waited until the last drop of wine had run out before changing the water into wine at the wedding (John 2:3-9). When He heard that Lazarus was sick, He not only waited till he was dead but till he was buried; and had been dead for four days (John 11:39). When the disciples went fishing, He waited until they had toiled all night and caught nothing before he gave them the abundant catch (Luke 5:5). A few times He waited for the storm to almost sink the disciples’ boat before calming the storm (Matthew 14:24-25; Mark 4:37).

The principle remains the same: The Lord wants us to realize our weakness and our dependence on God. If He answered our prayers any sooner we would take for granted that the answer is a natural process, just like if Abraham and Sarah had a son when they were still young. Or that we had fixed the problem ourselves. When that happens we boast in our abilities, rather than giving God the glory and recognizing that everything we possess and have accomplished is His gracious intervention in our lives.

Abraham did not like the process of waiting and none of us like it any better. Many times we become quite impatient with God, even feeling that He likes to torture us by making us wait way too long. But He does not take delight in our discomfort and impatience – He simply knows us far to well and He knows that as long as there is hope and a human chance – we will grab the glory for our selves and we will feel that we accomplished the matter for ourselves.

God does not have to wait as long as He does, if only we could recognize our impotence a lot sooner. As soon as we get to the point of despairing of the arm of flesh, the sooner He can intervene and perform the miracle He longs to perform and that we so desperately need.

It took Abraham almost eighty years to come to the end of his own resources and abilities. It took Moses forty years in the wilderness to lose all his skills at diplomacy, politics and oratory that he had learnt in Egypt (Acts 7:22, Exodus 4:10). Only then could the Lord use him to deliver the people of Israel.

The reason God takes His time has nothing to do with His tardiness or unwillingness to hear and to answer. But it is only because we have not yet come to the end of our own rope. The stronger and more accomplished we are, the longer it takes for us to learn that we can do nothing and that He can only work when we stand aside and allow Him to work alone. You see, God does not need our help; in fact, He cannot and will not, work as long as we try to help him out. Our best efforts do not help God, but get in His way. Just look at what happened when Abraham tried to help God and produced Ishmael.

Got any rivers you think are un-crossable
Got any mountains you can't tunnel through
God specializes in things thought impossible
And does the things that others cannot do

Let go and let God have His wonderful way
Let go and let God have His way
Your sorrow will vanish
You night turned to day
Let go and let God have His way