1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ge 17:1–8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Twenty-four years after Abraham had been led by God into the promised land and thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael, God returned to Abraham.

Abraham had, those thirteen years prior, become impatient. He thought he might need to take matters into his own hands. God had promised him an heir and maybe he needed to take charge of the situation. Thus Abraham sired Ishmael.

But God returns and tells Abraham his own wife Sarah will have a child. Not only that, God tells Abraham that the covenant is to be everlasting — an eternally binding promise from God. A part of that promise was to make Abraham the father of many nations. Imagine that. The God of all creation tells a 99 year old that “I will make you exceedingly fruitful.”

Abraham and his wife are childless and old. But God keeps his promises. God did the unexpected. He did the unforeseen. Even Sarah laughs at the idea of her, at her age, becoming pregnant. But she does.

We sometimes, like Abraham, grow impatient. We think we must take matters into our own hands. But God has plans for us. He keeps his promises to us. We can be impatient, but we must not substitute ourselves for God. We cannot play God. “God helps those who help themselves,” is not biblical theology. That is the theology of an impatient Abraham and an impatient you and me. God helps those who put their trust in Him.

So when you feel impatient and you know God has a plan for you, recognize the hand of God at work. Don’t act on your own. Go where God leads. It make take longer than you want, but we need to be on God’s timeline, not him on ours.