Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sarah and The Guy She Was With For One Hundred Years

She got a little bit tired of waiting after seventy years …

Sarah. The Hebrew matriarch. Or, the woman who had a baby when she was ninety years old. But what has always stood out for me was that Sarah gave her husband to another woman for want of a child. Her inability to conceive was the key factor in defining everything she was about.

Through Sarah and Abraham’s choices we have both the Israelite and the Islamic nations. Herbert Lockyer points quite an accusatory finger, “Sarah sacrificed herself on the cruelest altar on which any woman ever laid herself down; but the cords of the sacrifice were all the time the cords of a suicidal pride; till the sacrifice was both a great sin in the sight of God, a fatal injury to herself, to her husband, and to innocent generations yet unborn.” (Women of the Bible) Whoa. I guess she and Eve have a lot of common ground to discuss, huh?

But there is so much more to Sarah’s story than just a prideful, barren woman who wasn’t patient enough to wait out God’s perfect plan for her! She was an ancestress of Christ. She is one of only two women lauded for her faith in the “Great Examples of Faith” chapter in the book of Hebrews which says, “It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise.” (11:11) It was Sarah’s descendants that would carry the line of Christ’s ancestry. She was a woman that was chosen by God to be the one whom He would give His covenant to, so special that God distinguishes her by giving her a new name. Throughout the entire known world it was Sarah and her husband, Abraham, who were chosen not by chance but because they had all the necessary qualities that God required.

Exquisitely beautiful, passionately loved, strong, intelligent, and independent, there is much about Sarah’s story that we can learn from and apply to our lives today. Take some time with me and learn a little bit about pride and maturing in faith. Oh, and of course, patience. All of us can use a bit more of that … can’t we?

Scripture References You Should Check Out: Abram and Sarai’s story begins in Genesis 12. Sarah’s death is recorded in Genesis 23.

Question to ask yourself and answer before you read any further: What was the single most stressful/upsetting time of your life and was God pleased or displeased with your behavior during that time?

What her name means: Sarai is one of just a few people who are specifically renamed by God. (Genesis 17:15) Names given by God are called “sacramental names” for they are a sign and seal of an established covenant (promise) between God and that person. “Sarai” means “princess” while “Sarah” (the name given to her by God) means “Chieftainness” or “Princess”. With this name change came the covenant, “I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations, Kings will be among her descendants!” (Genesis 15:16)

Connections: Patience is something that all of us can improve on exponentially. Patience, in my way of thinking, is the difference between our personal time clock and God’s. Our inability to understand, trust, and simply wait until God’s perfectly planned moment is a human fault that pulls each and every one of down numerous times over the course of our lives. Maybe the phrase “needing more patience” should be better said as “needing more godly focused patience”?

What The Bible Says About True Patience:
· What it’s better than: Ecclesiastes 7:8
· How to increase it: Romans 15:4-6
· Where it comes from: Galatians 5:22
· How we prove ourselves: 2 Corinthians 6:6
· How I illustrate Christ’s patience: I Timothy 1:15-17
· What profession teaches it: James 5:7
· Why we should be so thankful for Gods: 2 Peter 3:15

For all of you Sarah’s out there …

Abraham and Sarah’s story is a lesson in patience, faith, loyalty, and obedience. I don’t know about you but I am always so thankful that not one of these patriarchs and matriarchs was perfect. Where would that leave us? It’s always reassuring to me as I read the biblical accounts to think, “Oh whoa, that’s a mistake even I don’t think even I’d make.” And yet these are the people that God chose. Not because of their perfection but because they had potential. These imperfect people had specific qualities that we ourselves can have as well. When you read their stories and take the time to really study them, you can glean from it the lessons that you can apply to your own life.

God does not give us hopes and desires that He does not intend to fulfill.
My Mom

God called Abraham righteous simply because he believed. Sarah is given a child because of her faith. Like our own precious children that cause us such heartache and worry, God loves us unconditionally despite the fact that we repeatedly must drive Him nuts. Here’s what you should take away from Sarah’s story and who she hooked up with:

  • God’s calendar and clock run differently than ours. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth. (MSG) Because we do not know everything we cannot assume to know what’s best for ourselves or anyone else. Practicing Godly patience requires trusting that God is in control and knows the best timeline for everything and everyone. I often hear people say, “I prayed about it and God did nothing!” We forget that God says, “Yes” as well as “No.” We must remember that while we only know infinitesimally, God knows infinitely.

  • God is the perfect parent. God has all the qualities of the perfect mother and father. He gives instructions - some gently whispered and some loudly shouted - and then lets you make mistakes as well as wise choices, realizing that that is the way we must learn and grow. How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. (Matthew 23:37b) Through it all He waits patiently and loves unconditionally, grieving with us when we weep and rejoicing with us when we smile. His advice is always reliable, His promises are always kept, His reasons are always sound, and His presence is always guaranteed. Now, if we would just listen and obey …

Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.
Oswald Chambers

  • When in doubt, pray. Never plan without God in the equation. Your best laid plans are not always God’s best laid plans. You should do nothing – nothing – without first going to the Lord in prayer. The value and power of prayer is not appreciated nor utilized enough by any one of us over the course of our day or life.

  • God does laugh. Yes, He is the stern, immovable God that draws boundaries around what is right and what is wrong and expects us to behave according to His commands. That’s what a loving individual does: teaches and reproves. But a loving individual also laughs and delights when a job is well done and when success has been achieved. Work to be friends with God, not just distant acquaintances. “Friendship means identity in thought and heart and spirit.” (Oswald Chambers) Practice at making Him the first one you ‘call’ with good and bad news, the first one you seek for advice and counsel and the only one you rely in everything you say and do.

  • No Matter How Good You Are, Your Spirituality Is What Defines You. Abram and Sarai were probably the best the world had to offer, but even with that distinction their hearts were not centered on The One True God. Over their entire lives God worked with them patiently and lovingly to help them grow and improve so they were better prepared for what was next on their path of life. Where are you on the spiritual maturity scale? Are you an infant, teen, young adult or mature warrior? Chronological age helps in the progress of these states but doesn’t guarantee anything. Stepping out on faith never makes sense to our human way of thinking. That’s why it’s called faith.

Faith is not intelligent understanding. Faith is deliberate commitment to a Person where I see no way.
Oswald Chambers

  • Learn and grow from your mistakes as well as your success. While it is critical that you continue to succeed, it is equally as critical that you don’t need to make the same mistake more than once to learn your lesson. We don’t want God rolling His eyes and saying, “Not again. How many times do I have to explain this to you? How many times do you need to be corrected?” My father used to say, “I buy you books and buy you books but what do you do? Look at the pictures.” Make a conscious choice that you are going to improve yourself in a manner pleasing and acceptable to God. Let the difficult times as well as the good times draw you ever closer to God.

This is an excerpt from the chapter “Sarah And The Guy She Was With For One Hundred Years” from Sue's book: Biblical Women And Who They Hooked Up With available in print or electronic media at her store:


conarnold said...

It's so reassuring to know how God's plan worked out through these people with all their flaws and can still work through us in all our flaws. Wow, talk about patience! How many of us women would be patient to wait until we're 90 to have a baby?! Thanks for the interesting and encouraging post!

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what I'm going through. It's hard to maintain the faithfulness needed to make it through each day, while waiting on God to move. I just had this conversation with a good friend of mine. It's the hardest thing for me to remain patient in the waiting. I know that God will fulfill the desires of my heart, but the day to day is grueling sometimes. I get frustrated trying to remove myself and remember that it will happen according to God's time.

Anonymous said...

What a great post! You know, I was in a little Bible study the other day, and a fellow member was sharing a struggle with which she needed prayer...I had to laugh when she said, "But don't pray for patience, because then such and such will never happen."

Oh, it's so true. You pray for patience, He, in his divine wisdom, will give you opportunity to practice it, won't He? LOL

I often say to myself and to others, "God's Time, God's Plan."

Thanks for the great post!

Anonymous said...

What a great post! You know, I was in a little Bible study the other day, and a fellow member was sharing a struggle with which she needed prayer...I had to laugh when she said, "But don't pray for patience, because then such and such will never happen."

Oh, it's so true. You pray for patience, He, in his divine wisdom, will give you opportunity to practice it, won't He? LOL

I often say to myself and to others, "God's Time, God's Plan."

Thanks for the great post!