I don’t know if the spinach and broccoli seeds I planted a few weeks ago for my fall garden were going to sprout up or not. But now, I’ll never know for sure because I cultivated those rows and did a second sowing right over the top of those little patches.
It’s a character weakness of mine, really, that I can’t wait until the weather turns to see if the seeds will grow. But all kinds of seeds strewn throughout my life have been hoed up in the activity of impatience. Only God knows the abundant crops I have forfeited.
In this flaw I have found a sister in Sarah, wife of Abraham, sojourner from Ur. It was the Lord himself who had planted a promise, making a covenant with Abraham that his seed would number the stars in the sky. Abraham was already married to Sarah when God announced the prophecy; surely she knew God meant it for her, too.
But Sarah was so old, even when the promise was given, and then so many years began to pass, and eventually, she pulled out the hoe and the seeds of her own design and went to work on a new plan. The fruit of her folly was not just the Ishmael, the son of her maidservant, Hagar,, but also the humiliation and jealousy and derision that grew from the work of her own hands.
I feel sorry for Sarah. The plan she hatched could have spilled out from the contours of my own imagination. It seemed like the only possible solution for seeds that weren’t sprouting: plant some new ones. But God had something better. And when He finally spoke the promise again, long after Sarah’s failure and this time in her direct hearing, all she could do was laugh.
According to John MacArthur, in his book Twelve Extraordinary Women, that laughter revealed a lot about what Sarah had learned through the years of her impatient faithfulness.
Despite her occasional bursts of temper and struggles with discouragement, Sarah remained an essentially good-humored woman. After those long years of bitter frustration, she could still appreciate the irony and relish the comedy of becoming a mother as such an old age. Her life’s ambition was now realized, and the memory of years of bitter disappointment quickly disappeared from view. God had indeed been faithful.
I have no doubt that is the remedy to my own impatient faithfulness, remembering that God is faithful. He doesn’t need my promptings and ploys to accomplish His will. He just needs me to wait.
The weather is starting to turn here, in Indiana, and I will certainly be laughing if I get a double harvest of broccoli and spinach. But I’m also hoping, as I reflect back on the restlessness of my life, that the Lord will give me a double harvest of patience, as well.