Thought for the Day - June 25th

Published by Michael Topple on Thu, 25 Jun 2020 10:21
Church Without Walls

God's time or our time?

{God said to Abram}, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the Lord, and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. 

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, ‘You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived for ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!’ But Abram said to Sarai, ‘Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please.’ Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her.

Genesis xv. 4-6; xvi. 1-6

I wonder whether you are anything like me? When somebody tells me they are going to do something, or offers me something, I find myself getting very frustrated if the action or object is not soon forthcoming. I freely admit that I am quite impatient. 

For me the message of this Old Testament tale is that we cannot try to rush God. Abram and Sarai get fed up waiting for God to act, so try to hurry things along by attempting to have offspring with a slave girl. As we read, this does not go well, and the now pregnant Hagar is cast out. 

This shows that we can never try to make God conform to our image, or our timescale, or our whims or our politics. At the end we have to remember that God is Creator and we are creatures: we have to trust that God will bring things right in the end. 

This, friends, is hard. Indeed, it is hard at the best of times when things are going well and everything seems dandy. But it is even harder when things are worrisome and troubling. 

I would say that the present age is certainly the latter. In a time when most of us expect things to be ready now, waiting becomes tedious. Some of you may have bought things from Amazon and been amazed at how quickly they arrived. I once ordered a gadget from their website on a Saturday afternoon and to my surprise it arrived on the Sunday morning! Those of you who have ordered takeaway food may well have grumbled if the food took thirty minutes to arrive, even though it would have taken you much longer to cook it yourself. Those of you with computers have the entire Internet at your fingertips, and can research things in seconds that our forebears would have spent years searching for. Our times have changed, and indeed sped up, and we risk believing that God has to fall into place as well.

Friends, we are living in strange times. Things are changing all around us, and look set to continue to change for many months and years to come. 

At times this can be scary, yet we have a God who promises never to leave us, regardless of how desperate the situation appears, and He promises that we will one day inherit eternal life.

An old children’s hymn I used to sing at school went:

Prom-prom-promises, God keeps His promises, and He always will!
Prom-prom-promises, God keeps His promises, and He loves us still!

A little twee perhaps; yet this is something that is worth remembering! This is something that we should say to ourselves time after time after time, whenever things look down or difficult. We have a God Who not only loves and cares for us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us, but also promises us that He will never leave or abandon us, but remain with us and draw us to Himself. 

We just have to learn not to rush Him! We must not make the mistake that Abram and Sarai made, of expecting God to act in a certain way or at a certain time. Instead we must hold fast to the promises we find in the Gospel, and continue trusting in God. 

To quote the Apostle Paul:

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at the harvest time if we do not give up!

Galatians vi. 9

A hymn: How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord - 

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