Thursday, August 26

Telling Time

He took him outside and said "Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." --Genesis 15:5

God's time frame is very different from ours. He has a plan for us, but it can't be necessarily broken down into a calendar year, or an hourly appointment schedule block. God speaks to our hearts and directs our path so that we learn the things we need to learn at the proper times. Sometimes he shows teaches us explicitly, while other times he merely gives us a hint and a promise and then leaves us waiting for their fulfillment. In these ways, God is continually shaping us into people who know his heart better and are able to walk with him more closely.

When God promises us that something will happen, he usually doesn't tell us when. He promises to fulfill his purpose for us, but doesn't hand us a pen and point to a calendar date that we can circle. In today's verse, we read about an amazing yet puzzling promise that God made to Abraham. This promise was that Abraham's descendants would be even more numerous than the stars in the night sky. I have often wondered if Abraham and his wife Sarah began making a list of baby names the very next morning.

Contrary to whatever Abraham may have expected as a result of his conversation with God, the promise of offspring did not become a reality for him until many years later. Shortly after the stargazing experience recorded here in Genesis, God remained silent on the subject--likely to Abraham and Sarah's frustration. It is likely that the pair questioned if God had really made a promise to them, and if he had, then why had he seemingly forgotten about them?

Sometimes I can relate to that feeling. It feels as though God gives me a glimpse of things to come, but then forgets to come fill in the details for me. There are times when he shows me wonderful and powerful things but doesn't show me how to reach the point of attaining them. Perhaps God uses those silent periods to give me a chance to mull over what I have learned from him, and dig deeper on my own before drawing concrete conclusions.

Although it may feel like God leaves us in silence for a time, we can rest assured that he has not forgotten about us or abandoned us. He has instilled in our hearts the hope that his promises will be kept and fulfilled in accordance with his perfect timing. Faith in God means faith in his plan, not matter how hard it is to see it from where we are standing. As we spend more time growing in our relationships with him and developing a better understanding of his character, we will undoubtedly learn how to tell time.

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