Many years ago, we were trying to move to Blackburn, in the north of England. I’d got a job up there starting in the September, and my husband was desperately applying for jobs in the same area. We had no car back then, and the bus ride was nearly 3 hours from his teaching post, so something needed to move. He had to hand in his resignation at the end of May to be free to take up a new post in September. Many prayers went up, as the deadline drew closer. Finally he got an interview – for the 31st May! He wrote out his resignation and gave it to a colleague with instructions to hand it in unless he got a phone call to the contrary! Thankfully he got the job!
I’ve heard it said that you may often have to wait a long time for God, but he is never a moment late.
And so it was for Sarah, in Genesis 21 v 1 – 2. “The Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.”
The Lord had visited Abraham, and promised that they would have their baby when he returned in one year’s time (Genesis 16 v 10). These days we’d call it a SMART target – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. So why had Abraham had such problems believing for it? It was the attainable bit. I don’t get the impression that either Abraham or Sarah really believed it was possible. But here he was – a very measurable, longed-for baby, just at the right time. Just as God had promised.
A year wasn’t so long to wait, but we find Abraham strutting off, and allowing his wife to enter another man’s harem. He’d been patient for 24 years, since that first promise in Haran, that he would become a great nation. Yet in spite of the promise being renewed and so tightly specified, he would have failed at the last hurdle had not God intervened.
Sometimes God does take us to the last moment, and we do have to wait uncomfortably long. God is God and that is his prerogative. But God is God, and a promise is a promise.