The Slow Lane
Have you ever felt like waiting on God seemed like the timer would never go DING? Did it seem like all we could hear at times was the ticking of the clock? Or waiting on God seems like He is taking forever? Did you find yourself getting discouraged because a snail was making more progress than God? You all know that ol’ saying, patience is a virtue. Some of you might be thinking, right now it isn’t. You could be thinking, I’ve been waiting on God for a while. I’ve been looking high-and-low for answers. And, ANSWERS are no where to be found.
When we look at our society and culture, we do not like waiting. We want things to happen quickly with the least resistance as possible. You know if you want to really test a persons patience, put them in front of a really slow computer, or in a situation where internet speed is painfully slow, or the cell phone starts spinning propeller time. If you wait long enough, you’ll see a whole different person.
Waiting for things to happen has not changed all that much from the ancient world to this modern world. The ancient world struggled just as much as we did. How can this be? Look at what we all have today compared to the ancient world. Friends, the reason why modern world has not changed that much is because we still have the same common denominator; and that is people. Our time scale today has become radically compressed. Everything has to happen in a blink of the eye. This morning we are going look at a situation where Sarai could not wait on God any longer. She had to take control of the situation, pushing for her desired outcome. Patience had run out. According to Sarai’s time table, God simply took too long. She was not willing to depending on God to light her path to the plan He made for her.
I’d like to invite you to turn in your Bibles to Genesis Chapter 16. If you’re taking notes this morning, we will be reading verses 1 through 5.
1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”
Sarai is no longer willing to wait on the Lord’s timing. The Lord simply took too long, and now Sarai is taking matters into her own hands. She has not only taken God’s foot off the gas, but has pushed Him out of the divers seat. Her actions are clear.
Let’s zoom out for just a moment. In the background we have a covenant promise between the Lord and Abram. Abram was telling the Sovereign Lord that he was childless (back in Genesis 15:2). Then the Lord had Abram look to the sky and count the number of stars. The Lord was telling Abram his descendants would be many. Abram had no reason not to trust what the Lord was telling him.
In this first section we can gather Sarai has put some thought into this issue and how to overcome her barrenness. She had a goal how to accelerate God’s plan for a child. She’s hittin’ the gas, and it’s peddle to the metal at this point.
Look at what Sarai tells Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children.” Wow - Really? Did we miss something? The Lord never said, ‘Sarai you will be childless all of your days’. Sarai is speaking for the Lord. She is speaking to His divine plan as though she is the Architect, the Sovereign designer. Have you ever noticed when things aren’t going quite the way we wish, sometimes we can begin to talk ourselves into believing a certain kind of truth? Sarai is doing exact that. She has come to her reasonable assumption that the Lord has kept her from having children.
Sarai would have been feeling pressured from many sides. In this time period, those who did not have children were treated with suspicion. Why had God not blessed them with children, especially the woman. Was she out of God’s favor? Their culture placed a strong demand for children. We can define this strong demand for children placed on her by the culture and society which she loved, as peer pressure. Her society and culture were telling her what is socially acceptable and desired. Can we see a parallel between our society norms and Sarai’s? Our society tells us the same thing, what is socially and culturally accepted. This is where we see Sarai saying for Abram to take her slave and build a family through her. Sarai was so fixated children, she lost sight of God’s plan!! It’s like she is in a dark tunnel, and the flash light batteries just ran out. God’s plan was no where to be found.
Now, let’s turn our attention to Abram for a minute. Abram shares responsibility with Sarai. Only a Chapter earlier (15:5-6), you have the sovereign God of the universe making a covenant promise, telling you your offspring will be numbered as the stars.
Sarai flexed on her faith, but so did Abram. They decided to satisfy the pressures of a temporary society. The Bible says Sarai’s slave, Hagar, conceived. Sarai’s plan for Abram to take her slave worked! YYYEEEESSS! They were going to be parents! It would have been a similar feeling for those of you who are already parents. You’re going to be a mommy - you’re going to be a daddy.
Have you ever had that time when you put so much time and energy in to plan A, that you thought it was bullet proof. I mean you thought about it from all angles, thought about every scenario and every possible outcome? Only to miss one little detail that unravels the whole plan.
Let’s see what happened … the fallout in verse 5 from Abram and Sarai’s decision didn’t take long to kick in. Sarai is in emotional pain. From her point of view, she is thinking Hagar despises her because of the pregnancy. Sarai is upset and zeros in on Abram. WhAAMM - she lets him have it! Sarai blames Abram for how she is feeling. She tells him he is responsible for this time of suffering she is feeling.
I can see Abram’s face now, (make shocked innocent facial expression) ‘what did I do’? I mean he was just hijacked. She was determined to share her pain and frustration. The plan for Hagar to be a surrogate backfired. Rather than bringing joy to a harmonious home, it brought strife, essentially creating a type combat zone. When the consequences of sin begin to fall, relationships always suffer. That is what is happening here. Sarai (and Abram) made a poor decision. A decision was made outside the will of God, and now the time has come to write the check.
Waiting on the Lord is not easy for some. We want things to happen quickly and often on our time table. When you’re waiting on the Lord, do find yourself becoming more frustrated by the minute because God is either nowhere to be found, perhaps excessively late, or are you sitting as cool as a cucumber with unshakable faith?
When we look in the Psalms, particularly the Psalms David wrote, you really see through the otter worldly shell of the man, then for a moment, we touch on the humanity of who he is as a person. The first Book of Psalms consists primarily of personal psalms that arose out of the king’s own experiences. King David knew waiting for God would be great.
14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
There are two points we can pull from Psalm 27:14. First, David is strongly convicted that the Lord will come. The coming of the Lord is not on our time table. The coming of the Lord is according to His perfect timing. Second, David is calling us into a deeper faith.
Sarai and Abram lost faith in the Lord’s promise. Sarai and Abram had plan A which was God’s plan. They chose to go to plan B. Plan B worked in the sense that a child was conceived, but was still a failure. You’ve heard the saying, “if plan A didn’t work out, well there are 25 more letters. Henry Ford once said, “failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
I like that, “this time more intelligently!!” Sometimes we don’t choose God first. Choosing God’s plan and trusting in His timing is always intelligent. Friends, as hard as it might be, God’s plan and timing requires faith. But what is faith? What does it mean to have faith in God?
In Hebrews we have a definition:
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Having faith in God means to have complete trust in who God says He is and what He says he will do, simply, fully and without reservation. It means letting God have all the keys. We are the passenger not the driver. We are along for the ride, so let’s enjoy it.
Back in Genesis 12, Abram is called by the Lord to “set out for the land of Canaan.” Abram has to pack up his family and the life they are accustomed to. Abram did not know what was laying ahead in the unknown wilderness. Abram had full confidence and hope in the Lord’s plan. Abram did not have to see the full set of stairs to go up, he just had to take the first step.
Where are you right now!? Does the Lord’s plan have you in the slow lane? Someone once said, when you’re stuck in the traffic jam of life, and you see the other side of the highway moving along swiftly and easily; you could start to wonder why. Why am I stopped or slow side? We are quick to thank God for the doors He opens, but what about the doors that are closed or not yet ready to be opened. How are you praising God in this situation of your life? If you are waiting on God, how are you waiting? What is your attitude while you are waiting? Are you waiting for your victory? Are you, like Sarai, waiting for your turn, and perhaps loosing faith in? Do you find yourself not praying and praising God because things are not on your timetable?
James reminds us over in Chapter 5 verses 7 through 8 to:
7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
Like the farmer we too can stand firm with patience! Being stuck or stopped does not mean you are denied it could simply mean delayed. His plan is moving forward, change is inevitable. God is always moving, even when no action on the surface can be seen.
We know how the story ends for Sarai and Abram, the Lord blessed them. They made the choice not to trust in God’s timing, realizing the grass was not necessarily greener on the other side. Sarai and Abram were simply delayed but not denied by God.
For those of you who are waiting, do you find yourself trying to break through the protective barrier God has setup for your protection? Do you find yourself trying to fix the situation by yourself? Do you feel worried? How long have you felt abandoned, frustrated or forgotten?
You don’t have to carry all of this with you. Cast these worries and anxiety you have on Jesus. Jesus stands with open arms full of tender love.
Friends we serve a BIG GOD, and I understand it’s hard to wait on the Lord when you are seeking desperately for your answer. You can trust in The Lord your God as goes with you.
Friends, the alter is open. Come and talk to the Lord of lord’s and the King of king’s. If you need prayer, I would be happy to pray with you. My family would be happy to pray with you.
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can know him today. He can help you get out of this traffic jam you are in. Especially if you feel like you’ve tried everything you can think of to get out of this traffic jam, and nothing has worked. Jesus Christ can give you that help, that peace you are seeking.