I found myself having a very interesting reaction to the story of Sarah finding out she was pregnant with Isaac at age 90. Pastor Bill gave a great sermon on the topic, talking about the laughter she burst into when she found out she would be pregnant, and how God so often surprises us with his gifts and his grace.
I have been surprised by God’s goodness and grace many times. Good news when I expected bad, a job opportunity that turned out to be better than I ever thought, three amazing kids—I could go on and on. And I really do love the story of Abraham and Sarah—when they thought all hope was lost of them ever having the descendants God had been promising them for years and years—finding out they were pregnant when that should not have even been possible. God makes the impossible possible—and sometimes all you can do is laugh in joy when it happens.
But I found myself thinking, I don’t think I would be happy at all if I found out I was pregnant at 90! I mean, forget any chance of living to see your grandchildren, let alone seeing them graduate. And can you imagine having to get down on the floor with your child at 90?? I was thinking, “Wow, God, I know it is wonderful that you keep your promises, but really? Seems like your timing is pretty lame.”
One way in which Sarah and I are different, is that this was her first child. So I can imagine her being overjoyed about that. And I did ask one 80 year old woman in worship if she would be happy, and she said, “Yes, of course!” I loved that.
So when I thought about my own reaction, it made me start to realize how much I like to micro-manage God. When I pray for something, I want it now. When I ask for a friend to be healed, I want her totally healed, not just healed in her spirit. If I was Sarah, I imagine I would be a little ticked off that God took God’s own sweet time and now as a result, I am inconvenienced in a way I would not have been had he given me Isaac in my 20’s or 30’s.
But I have to remember that God isn’t on my timeline. God created the world and made us co-creators with him. He blessed us so that we could be blessings to others. He doesn’t sit up in heaven and micromanage our lives. He works for good in our lives, but often that good is not on our time line, or in the way we would have expected it to happen.
Most often, I can see this in hindsight. A couple of years ago, our kids had to change schools when they re-drew boundaries in our district. It was a really hard time for them to have to leave all of their friends. I agonized over keeping them at their old school. The whole thing was quite inconvenient. But as I look back, I can see the good that has come of it. It isn’t that I think that God made them go to a new school, but God did remain faithful to our family and sent us good teachers and new friends and through the experience my kids learned they can survive changing schools, which is a good life lesson.
I guess what I find I have to keep reminding myself is to have faith–to trust that God is at work even if I don’t see it right now. And then to be open to God doing the unexpected. That is probably why Sarah laughed when she heard she was pregnant. I mean what else can you do really? God is faithful to God’s people. He is with us in our barren times and in our times of plenty. And the way he comes to us isn’t always how we might have dreamed it would all work out. But that doesn’t mean that God isn’t still working for good in our lives.
I’m going to pray that we all would be able to trust God more fully. To be open to his work in our lives, and then to be able to laugh at the ways God can surprise us. And I want God to keep turning my “Really, God???” into “Thank you, God. I really thank you.”