“It’s my money and I need it now!” If you live with a TV and have cable, you have heard this commercial that JG Wentworth aggressively and unapologetically used to overrun the world of television advertisement. Despite the fact that the phrase grew obnoxious to many over the time that the ad was run, it communicated a simple message: all humans are beings of immediacy. Whatever we want, we want it now!
Amazon Prime is infamous for their two-day shipping. Brick and mortar stores are always looking for ways to streamline their customer’s process so that they don’t have to wait in tedious lines. Look at the success of the Wal-Mart shopping pickup. Sadly, our culture tends to get behind this mindset and communicate that people should be able to get what they want when they want it.
What does this mean for our relationship with God? When He makes a promise, how long should it take to be fulfilled? Are we to be the ones to place God on our timeline? Or are we on His timeline? We can look into the life of Abraham and gain deep insights to how we should handle God’s promises in Scripture and in our lives.
Promise to Abraham
Thousands of years ago, God appeared to a seventy-five-year-old Abram. This God that was foreign to Abraham began to make promises (Genesis 12:1–3). The main promise was that He would make Abraham into a “great nation” (Genesis 12:2). However, there was one problem with this, Abraham’s wife could not bear children (Genesis 11:30), meaning it would be impossible for a nation to come from a couple that could not reproduce. To trust God would call for faith. In the midst of this odd situation, they followed God’s command to “go” from the land in which they lived at the time to a new land. Take note that Abraham was seventy-five years old when this promise was made (Genesis 12:4).
Impatience of Abraham
Over time, Abraham and his wife grew impatient that God made this promise, yet they still followed Him. Due to the impatience that is common to the human race, he and his wife attempted to take matters into their own hands. Sarah–Abraham’s wife–had a servant, Hagar, whom Abraham had a child by in order to attempt to fulfill the promise that God gave (Genesis 16:1–16). However, God never said this would be how His promised would be fulfilled. Abraham and Sarah wanted what they wanted when they wanted it. We can all identify. We can all remember a time in which we were impatient and got ourselves in trouble.
Partial Fulfillment of Promise to Abraham
Twenty-five years after God first made the promise to Abraham, that promise begins to be fulfilled. I am only twenty-five years old! A lot can happen in twenty-five years. As I look back on what has happened in my life, I can remember the horrendous attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. I can remember presidential elections of George Bush, Barrack Obama, and now Donald Trump. I can remember children being born and people passing from life to death.
At the age of 100, Abraham has a child by his wife, Sarah, just as God had promised twenty-five years earlier. In the time leading up to this, one could only imagine them seeing friends have children, other friends passing on from life, and many events taking place. To say that they would have needed patience is an understatement!
Full Fulfillment of Promise to Abraham
The complete fulfillment of God’s promise did not come until millennia after God’s initial contact. It did not come until generations after Abraham had passed. Yet, the fact stands, the fulfillment did eventually come!
The greatness of Abraham’s name (Genesis 12:2) is not in what he did, but in what one of his descendants did. If one were to read Matthew 1, he would see that Abraham was the lineage through which Christ came. It was by Christ and that lineage that Abraham’s name was made great. It was then, that God’s promise was fulfilled!
What Does This Mean For Us?
We tend to work with deadlines. We grow impatient if one does not do something in what we would consider to be a “timely manner.” In doing these things, we place people in our timeline and expect them to act accordingly. Let us take a step back and realize that all of us are functioning in the timeline in which God has placed us. This is not our timeline, this is God’s timeline. God may take twenty-five minutes to fulfill a promise or He may take twenty-five years. What truly matters is that God will do what He says.
Be patient with God, for he was patient with us. Don’t try to take matters into your own hand, but let God do what He promises. Trust Him, don’t “call His bluff” as Abraham did. God’s promises are never empty nor are they bluffs, but they are fulfilled in their time. As Joshua writes, “None of the good promises the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed. Everything was fulfilled” (Joshua 21:45, CSB). Don’t look for what you want when you want it, but for what God wants when God wants it!