If you are just joining me, welcome! You can find an explanation of this series here: Day 1 – Introduction.
It’s interesting it says the LORD appeared to Abraham, yet when Abraham looked up he saw three men. Symbolizing the trinity? Just a thought.
God confirms his promise Sarah will have a son, even though Abraham is 99-years-old and Sarah is 90. The biological clock has run out of batteries for both Abraham and Sarah (Hebrews 11:11). Sarah laughs thinking, “Right, after menopause, I’m going to have a kid? Get real.”
You know the story of Jesus’ first miracle turning water to wine? (Yes, this relates — hang with me.) Wine ran out at a wedding that Jesus was invited to. I just learned this week, it was not only embarrassing but considered the height of rudeness not to have wine for your wedding guests. (Thank you, Debbie Ott for your lecture in Bible Study Fellowship!)
Even when Jesus’ mother directs Jesus’ attention to the problem, he doesn’t act right away. But when the time was right, Jesus told servants to fill some ginormous jugs full of water. Debbie pointed out this task wasn’t difficult. The next task, however? A bit risky. Take a sampling of this liquid to the master of ceremonies. The MC had no clue he was drinking miracle wine. He just said, “You saved the best for last!”
A friend observed something I knew but hadn’t connected with this miracle: It takes awhile to make wine. Oh yeah. Which proves that when God chooses, he can accomplish the impossible instantly. And what he accomplishes is of highest quality.
Jesus’ first miracle and Abraham and Sarah’s story share a striking similarity: God waited until the natural ability ran out before he entered the scene. We prefer God to work on our schedules. But we might get the false impression we’re in control. When our natural ability has smacked up against its limits, we’re right where God wants us. (It’s all about location, location, location, right?) The end of our limitations is prime real estate for viewing God at work. There’s no mistaking who gets the credit.
In Jesus’ first miracle, he cared about saving the wedding party embarrassment. Did God promise Abraham and Sarah all this great stuff and then make them wait 25 years just to embarrass them in front of all their family and friends? When promises take time to be fulfilled, God is growing our faith.
If it’s God’s good plan, and perfect timing, to wait to fill us until we’re empty, then why do we heap unnecessary guilt to the already difficult job of trusting and obeying? There is no shame in being empty.
Are you feeling at the end of your rope? You have just stepped onto prime real estate for looking up. Have you been waiting way longer than you’d ever thought? Maybe already given up? Your faith is being tended by the Creator. Do you feel empty, nothing to give? There is no shame in acknowledging our limitations. God’s intention is not to embarrass or leave us empty.
I like to imagine — did Sarah get so excited when Abraham first told her God’s promise decades before? Did she run out to Target and start a baby registry and decorate the nursery? Better buy one get one free while the cribs are on sale! Abraham is going to be the father of a huge nation, you know!
When the paint started peeling in the empty nursery, did she give all that stuff away? Did she stay home in pain when yet another friend had a baby shower? Too hard to go and feel the pangs of an empty womb. And then try to explain for the bazillionth time a promise she didn’t even believe anymore. Enter menopause. Wow, God, you craft exquisite torture. And I’m not talking hot flashes. I’m talking about flashbacks to this promise – can’t say the word without laughing – of some time when I believed you actually loved us. Forget it. I don’t even care anymore.
When we think the plan is all washed up, it may be that we’ve just arrived on the shores of God’s great plan for us.
From Sarah’s empty womb to Jesus’ empty tomb, God’s master plan progresses exactly on schedule. It’s ok to be empty.