In the Bible, in Genesis, there's a story about a man named Abram, and his wife, Sarai, who lived in an area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. They were nomads who lived in tents and moved from place to place whenever the food for their animals ran out.
Abram was very rich. He had numerous animals and numerous servants to look after them. But there was one thing Abram didn't have, and that was a son.
Abram was over seventy years old at the time and Sarai was well over sixty, so by then of course they were far too old to have a baby-or were they?
One night while Abram was lying awake in his tent, God spoke to him in a vision.
"Abram!" God said, "I want you to leave this land you're living in. I want you to take your wife Sarai and all your animals, and go to a land that's far away from here, to a land I am going to give to you. I will be with you to guide you all the way, Abram, so don't be afraid. Oh, and by the way, I'm going to give you a son in your old age and I'll make you into a mighty nation with kings among your many descendants. So, Abram, will you go?"
'Hmm,' Abram mused, stroking his long white beard as he thought about God's offer. 'I really like it here. The weather's nice. There's plenty of water and grass for the animals and all my family and friends are here. But if I leave, God has promised He'll give me a son. And to have a son is what I want more than anything else in the world!'
"Yes, O.K. Lord." Abram said, nodding his head. "I'll go. I don't know where to, but I'll go anyway. I'm going to trust You to look after us and keep us safe, as You said You'd do."
Abram then shook Sarai awake and excitedly told her all that God had said about them going to a new land. Then he dropped the bomb-shell and told her that God promised him a son in his old age. Which of course meant in Sarai's old age as well!
Poor Sarai, she was half asleep so she didn't take in all Abram told her, but sleepily she said she'd be happy to go with him. They both felt sad about having to say goodbye to every one they knew, because they were sure they'd never see them again. Still, Abram couldn't help feeling excited about God's promise to him of a son, so that made up for all the sadness he had about leaving his family and friends behind.
When all the animals were herded and the poultry put into crates, Abram led Sarai, his nephew Lot, his servants and all the animals out into great unknown. Abram had no road maps, sign-posts, or GPS to guide him along the way he only had his faith in God and that was enough.
God led Abram across the Euphrates River, then south and on to the Promised Land. For kilometre after kilometre, month after month, they travelled, making frequent stops along the way, so that the animals could forage for food and the people could make camp and rest their weary bones.
Abram was always careful to listen to God's leading, because he knew that if he didn't they could go the wrong way and end up dying of thirst in the desert. Or they could be attacked by robbers and killed. So, although it took much longer to get where God was leading them to, it was much safer.
Finally they arrived in a land called Canaan and God told Abram that this was the land He promised to give to him and to all his descendants forever. Abram built an altar there with some rocks and gave thanks to God for bringing them all safely to such a beautiful and fertile land. But he was very sad because the son God had promised him still hadn't been born.
Abram told God that he didn't want a servant to be his heir and inherit all his wealth. God replied with: 'No, he won't! I will keep My promise and you will have a son of your own and everything you have will be his.'
Abram believed God and God was pleased with him. That's how he became known as God's friend.
"I'm going to be a father! I'm going to be a father!" Abram cried excitedly. "At long last I'm going to have a son!" and Abram ran happily back to the tent to tell Sarai the good news that at long last she was to be a mother! And guess what? Sarai didn't like that idea one little bit! So she came up with a 'bright idea' of her own.
Sarai told Abram that her Egyptian maid, Hagar, could have a baby with him and she would bring him up as her own son. Big mistake! Foolishly Abram agreed.
The problem then was that Hagar started showing off in front of Sarai and taunting her, by saying, "Nah, nah! Nah, nah! I'm having a baby and you're not!" Which of course made Sarai hopping mad. So immediately she blamed Abram! Yet it was her own fault! After all, she was the one who came up with the 'bright idea' in the first place!
Later on Hagar had a son and Abram named him Ishmael, meaning, 'God hears.'
You know, boys and girls, it's not really a bright idea to help God out. You might not like what you get when you do, but just like Abram and Sarai had to do with Ishmael, you'll still have to care for it.
So remember God's timing is perfect. His promises never come too early, they never come too late, and they always come right on time! That's God's time, not ours! So be patient!