Beautiful, In Its Time
YET GOD HAS MADE EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL FOR ITS OWN TIME.
HE HAS PLANTED ETERNITY IN THE HUMAN HEART,
BUT EVEN SO, PEOPLE CANNOT SEE THE WHOLE SCOPE
OF GOD’S WORK FROM BEGINNING TO END.
Patience is a virtue. At least that’s what I’m told. Except I’ve never been very good at it. Call it my only-child syndrome, a complete lack of any worthy attention span, or a simple mantra of “if you want to get something done, then do it yourself”. In fact, that has long been my daily mantra, even when dealing with things of heaven’s business. I’m not the best at waiting, and even worse when it comes to delegating control. By the way, I am an absolute joy to work with in group projects… Promise ;-)
If I want something fixed, then I want it fixed now, please. I find God’s timing a little frustrating and, well, slow. If I’m honest, then I tend to spend my time thinking about how I would do a much better job of getting things done if God would just leave it all up to me.
Ouch. The heart looks much messier when turned outwards, doesn’t it?
Last year I made it my mission to read through the Bible in a year. Like all great resolutions, it didn’t quite happen, however I was fairly pleased to see that in 2013 I had read more of the Bible than ever before. I’ve spoken about this before, but I’ll say it again; there is so much peace, comfort and grace to be found in those pages - food for the soul in all its entirety.
I began to relate to one book in particular, Genesis. I’m of the opinion that this book is such a diamond in the rough, often caricatured by the Sunday School stories of our childhoods. However, by reading it cover to cover, I saw that impatience and frustration were common themes among the Fathers of our Faith.
There seems to be a common pattern among the people in Genesis, a theme that burrows its way into my heart also.
The pattern goes as such: God makes a promise; for a short amount of time, we trust in this promise; we soon grow weary and impatient and take matters into our own hands, making a mess in the process; and finally, God reclaims the situation.
Take Abraham for example: he grows troubled when he bares no son on which to lay his blessings (Genesis 15:2-3). God however promises Abraham a son and that his descendants would be innumerable (Genesis 15: 4-5).
But Abraham and Sarah grow impatient and fearful of God’s faithfulness, so what does Abraham do? Go and sleep with his servant, Hagar, so that she can bear him a child instead (Genesis 16: 1-4).
Now girls, we all know this was never going to end well now, was it? Unsurprisingly, tensions arise among the dysfunctional family, jealousy spawns, and Abraham’s life begins to crumble around him (Genesis 16). However, God continues to echo His promise to Sarah and Abraham (Genesis 18: 1-15), and what happens? God keeps His word, and a miracle happens: Sarah becomes pregnant and gives birth to Isaac.
A promise… Trust… Impatience and fear… A promise kept.
The same thing happens with Jacob. After running away from his family following his deception and rebellion against his family and father, Jacob finds himself wandering in the wilderness. Jacob believes he has been outcast from God’s favour, condemned following his deceit. But as Jacob sleeps, God speaks to him, promising the land to Jacob, as God had once promised to Abraham. God also repeats His promise made to Abraham, that Jacob’s descendants will outnumber the stars.
He finishes His promise with this, one that I urge you to tuck away in the quiet spaces of your soul:
“What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”
And what does Jacob say in return?
God was at work, and I didn’t even see.
How our lives echo those of Abraham and Jacob. God has made us so many beautiful and precious promises; promises to keep us safe, promises to rescue us, promises to stay by our side for all eternity. It is so difficult to keep these promises in our sight when God’s timing contradicts ours.
But whether it takes a day, or a lifetime, God will keep His promises. And when He does, it will be beautiful because it will be ordained by God’s timing. Maybe it is only when we stand in the promise that we can appreciate the beauty of the moment, how lovingly God has written our lives up to this point.