I can remember signing the papers for our mortgage. It would be paid off in 25 years. 25 years! That was like forever. At the time it was two years longer than I'd been alive! Yet the years have rolled by and the mortgage has been paid off. There are certain things that we expect to take a long time. We're willing to wait.
On the other hand there are things that we absolutely won't wait for. McDonald's for one.
My last trip to the Golden Arches was not a happy meal. It wasn't just that our 3 year old decided to scream so loudly upstairs that he could be heard over the hubbub of the 300 people eating their food downstairs! It was that I had to wait for 10 minutes for my burger to be cooked! If it had been a gourmet steak, prepared from fresh, in a high quality culinary establishment, I would have coped. But it was the usual fair. Looks fantastic on the photo. Rather limp and soggy when it arrives in the box.
I think that too often we have a McDonald's not a mortgage view of God's promises to us in Christ. In our instant world we expect them all to be fulfilled in our lives now.
My Bible reading on Sunday in Genesis 12 reminded me of how God's timescale is not ours. God makes Abraham some fantastic promises. Amongst the promise that he will father a great nation. Almost incidentally we're told: "Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran." (Genesis 12:4)
What struck me was that it was 25 years until Abraham's son, Isaac, was born in Genesis 21. That's a long time to wait. Especially when you're already too old to have kids by any human standard! Those 25 years where filled with Abraham battling to trust God's promises in the the face of the problems of life.
But that quarter of a century was a tiny fraction of the time between God's promises to Abraham and the coming of Jesus. He was the descendant of Abraham who fulfilled all those promises. It was through his life, death and resurrection that people from all nations could come to know Abraham's God and look forward to life in a world where they would only know His love and blessing.
I was chatting with a bloke at church yesterday who had experience the deep suffering of the death of a child. We were reflecting how often our understanding and time scale are very different from God's. How we can only keep clinging to His promises in the pain and problems of our world. Even when the pain and problems don't seem to go away. Because in the end God has never failed to keep a promise. However long His people have had to wait.
And they're worth waiting for.