Hashem appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” Genesis 12:7 (Tanach emphasis mine).
To the childless man God's promise sparked hope. Did I hear right – offspring? Firmly committed to his barren wife Sarai, Abram reveled in this good news. There are children in my future! Does it matter that this promised land isn't for me but for my posterity? No way. I'm going to be a Abba!
The seventy-five-year-old man's biological clock ticked away. Surely the offspring would come sooner rather than later. Not so. Eleven years of failed attempts at pregnancy passed and then Sarai conceived – Plan B. The result was Ishmael.
Another thirteen years transpired and as Ishmael approached manhood God arrived in person bearing good news. A son, via an infertile, ninety-year-old wife was in the works. In addition, God gave Abram some startling news.
“I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojourns.” Genesis 17:8 (Tanach emphasis mine).
For twenty-five years Abram roamed a land he'd never possess and now he had a home!
Why did God wait so long to spring that surprise? I can't say for sure, but I have a few suggestions.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends” John (NIV).
Abram forsook all to obey God and traversed a land for the benefit of offspring that he didn't have – that's faith. This journey took him from Abram to Abraham and laid a foundation for the other patriarch's Isaac and Jacob.
Whether we like it or not, understand it or not, God's timing isn't like ours. We use clocks and calendars, He uses eternity. We're in a hurry. God has all the time in the world, no make that creation (which is ever expanding). We've got to accept that God works on a timetable uniquely His own and He's not about to change.
God's revelations are progressive. We'd prefer step-by-step plans to minimize confusion and to conserve faith. Waste not, want not. Our comfort zone is built upon concrete objectives that fit neatly into our logic and reasoning. Besides, we could probably add some nifty ideas to help God out. Maybe that's the reason he keeps all the details from us. Let us mess with His recipe and it would look more like Hell's Kitchen with Gordon Ramsey.
How about you? If God asked you to forsake all for some invisible, future generation how would you react? What dreams, aspirations and such would you passionately pursue knowing the benefits would be reaped by someone else? Could you do it, even if unlike Abram you never enjoyed the fruit of your labor? Perhaps it really isn't all about us after all.