I hope this time of review has been as good for you as it has for me! I am going to feature two more “Wait. . . what?” moments in history before moving on to something else that God has been revealing to me little by little.
This “Wait. . . what?” moment is one that can be found all the way back in Genesis. I love that
the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Heb. 4:12, NIV).
I also love that
All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting in training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17, NIV).
In one week alone, the LORD brought this story to my attention five different times. He obviously needed to teach me something and it is my hope that you too can be reminded of who He is and the lessons He offers in this “Wait. . . what?” moment.
Meet Sarah. She first appears in Gen. 12:5:
And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan.
Did you notice the name differences? I will get to that too.
Let me also remind you that at this point in time, Sarah has not met the LORD. Her husband has on several occasions in such miraculous ways that he has left his country, his father’s house, and his welfare, and is traveling to the place God promised to show him, choosing to walk by faith and not by sight. God continues to lead and guide Abram every step of the way. Sarai is simply walking in step with her husband because she loves and trusts him. She is learning about the LORD through Abram, but she has not had a personal encounter.
During Abram’s faith walk, the LORD shows him and tells him that a large space of land will be given to him and his offspring (Gen. 12:7, Gen. 13:14-17). Then, in a vision, the LORD tells Abram that his very own son (from his flesh and blood) will be his heir (Gen. 15:4).
This is important to note because he and Sarai are childless. We know this was not by choice because of Sarai’s comment found in Gen. 16:2:
Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children.
Was she alluding to the fact that she had gone through menopause? Maybe. After all, she was in her 80’s. But I can’t help but imagine that their lack of children had not caused a tremendous amount of pain in their lives. Back in this time, couples didn’t discuss whether or not they wanted children. It was understood that children were necessary to carry along the blood-line and family name. It also promised future provision for Sarai. Rest assured, being childless was not their hope.
I also can’t help but imagine Abram’s joyful posture when he went to Sarai and told her what God had revealed to him– that God would give them an heir. See, his faith had been affirmed time and time again and his relationship with the LORD had given Abram assurance of things not seen. Because of this, he is expectant. But Sarai is still trusting only in what she can see because she has not YET met the LORD personally. And because of this she is doubting.
So, in her doubt and disappointment, she steps ahead to make God’s words come alive in the only way she sees possible. It isn’t that she doesn’t believe what her husband has communicated. She just doesn’t see herself as a part of God’s plan. So she recommends that her husband “visit” her servant, Hagar. “Perhaps God could use her to give Abram a child,” she reasons. And a child is born from this encounter– a son named Ishmael.
But God’s plans are not ours so the story continues. Fast-Forward about 13 years.
God visits Abram again, this time with crystal clear verbiage that could not be misinterpreted:
‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram[b]; your name will be Abraham,[c] for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.’
God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.. . and you will call him Isaac.[d]” (Gen. 17: 4-8, 15-16, 19, NIV).
God was going to do something amazing through this married couple. Even though they saw limitations, God saw none. These were His chosen and God gets the final say in all things. With Him, we know all things are possible. Through them, He was going to change the course of history, ultimately sending His One and Only Son by way of this lineage. With that, new names were in order: Abraham and Sarah: father and mother of nations.
Not long after, The LORD appears to Abraham along with two others (army angels, I imagine). Immediately, Abraham greets them and asks Sarah to quickly prepare food. While she is inside the tent kneading dough, she overhears the conversation taking place between the visitors and Abraham:
They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”
And he said, “She is in the tent.”
The LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” (Gen. 18:9-10, ESV).
Hearing this, Sarah could not help but laugh to herself. Menstrual cycles were long behind her and her hope for children had been put to rest a very long time ago. The thought that came to her mind was “An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?” (Gen. 18:12, MSG).
Why did Sarah laugh and say, “Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?” Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you , about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”
Wait. . . what? This seems CRAZY.
And what the LORD says is what will be. So at the age of 90 or 91, Sarah did bore Abraham (who was 100+) a son who was given the name Isaac, just as the LORD had declared.
The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. (Gen. 21:1-2, ESV).
Even though this story took place long, long ago, God’s word is alive and active. And He doesn’t change so let’s wrap this up by claiming the truths this story offers:
- God’s plans belong to Him. He doesn’t need our help navigating how He is going to get done what He promised. He’s got it. He simply wants us to trust and wait, believing that He is a fulfiller of each and every promise. Let’s not race ahead of Him, thinking we can make His promises come alive. If there is one thing to be sure of it is that His ways and His timing are never ours, but His are ALWAYS right. Let’s get better about waiting on the LORD instead of racing ahead because we think we have the solution. (Psalm 27:14)
- God has named you! God has a plan and purpose for each and every one of his children, even before we were born (Jer. 1:5). Sarai may have been her birth name, however, God’s name for her spoke His redemption story over her as well as Abraham. Sarah would become the mother of nations. Abraham- the father of nations. Isaac, their son, would father 12 princes and his nation would be great. “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” is a sentence we are still familiar with to this day. And Mustard Seed Girl, God has a name for you too: ROYAL DAUGHTER. Just as he turned Sarah’s reality right-side up, He offers to do the same for each and every one of us.
- God gets personal with you! Thankfully, we serve a God who knows us personally. He does not stay far off, rather comes close, giving us personal encounters with Him so that we might know Him more, trust Him more, love Him more. Sarah went from knowing about Him to knowing Him when He got personal with her. He knew her every last thought. He called her by name. He spoke a future over Her. He visited her (Gen. 21:1). She was a part of His plan.
And so are you!
Know that today. Believe that! You have not been overlooked. You have not been ignored. You have not been banished. You are a part of His story and He would love to use you in mighty, mighty ways. Are you willing? Are you ready?
Sarah’s story reminds me that we are never too old to be used by the King!
Stay tuned for one more “Wait. . .what?” moment!
Love you, Mustard Seed Girl.