By Sarah Evans
Many of us can relate to a time when we seek the Lord desperately for an answer. There are those moments when we hear the whisper of a sweet promise from God, and wait and wait for the promise to come. In our time of waiting, we often become restless and even begin to question whether the promise was indeed true. Did we really hear from God? Will He really deliver the promise unto us? We can even begin to give up hope, and disappointment can begin to take its place within our heart.
What should we do when we find ourselves in a place where hope is faint and disappointment takes the place of our faith in God?
It is one thing to seek out God’s presence, and to worship Him, when things are going well but it is something very precious to seek out His presence and worship Him when we are in this place of struggle.
‘We must seek the Giver more than we seek the gift or promise’
When we look at the story of Abraham and Sarah in the book of Genesis, we see that they were desperate to have a child of their own. Even though God made them a promise that they would have many descendants on the earth, much time passes and the promise begins to fade. They too become impatient and even decide to take action into their own hands: Abraham’s servant Hagar bears him a son instead…but he is not the son of promise. And as Sarah and Abraham grow old in years, past child-bearing age they begin to wonder whether the promise is even still alive.
In Genesis 18:1-15, we see that the Lord finally appears to Abraham by the terebinth trees of Mamre. Abraham experiences a fresh encounter with the Lord, and has the perfect opportunity to pour out the troubles of his heart. It would only seem natural that he would want to tell the Lord about his disappointment over not yet having the child of promise. To fall down at the Lord’s feet and cry out “Lord, Lord, where is the gift that you have promised me? I have been waiting so long. Please Lord, is now the time? Is this the reason for this special encounter with you? Are you here to give me my desire?
Isn’t that what we would do? And yet Abraham does something quite different. He seeks the Giver instead of the gift. Let us learn from his example:
1. Abraham Humbles Himself in God’s Presence
As soon as Abraham sees the Lord, he ‘bows himself to the ground’ (verse 2). He makes himself low, recognizes his humanity and weakness, and gives the Lord the honor that is due His name. In doing this, he acknowledges that God is sovereign and in full control of his situation.
2. Abraham Pleads for the Lord to Remain Close to Him
Abraham then says “My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by” (verse 3). Abraham does not seek to presume that he is deserving of favor and blessing, neither does he make any other demand of Him. All he does is he communicates to the Lord his desire for more of His presence…a deeper place of intimacy.
3. Abraham Serves the Lord
Abraham offers to provide food and water for the Lord, and the three men travelling with Him. He not only serves them with a place to rest, food and water, but he also gives of his best unto the Lord, as he chooses a ‘tender and good’ calf for the meal.
During this time of encounter, not once does Abraham ask about the promise of a child. We can almost assert then that Abraham’s actions were not self-seeking but instead were out of a place of his love for God, so he did not expect anything in return. He was merely seeking God’s presence and pleasure. Yet, it is out of this place of sincere love and generosity that God in fact chooses to administer the much-anticipated promise unto Abraham and Sarah. The Lord tells them “I will surely return to you, this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son”.
Abraham could not have known that this would happen.
As with Abraham, only God can truly know the sincerity of one’s heart. He knows the desires that are hidden deep down inside each one of us and He knows that which we most seek: His presence and intimacy, or His gifts. It is however our genuine love for Him, and our desire to be closer to Him that will in fact open His generous gift-giving hand.
Do we seek out His presence above all else?