My youngest daughter’s favourite joke at the moment is the one about the interrupting cow – it goes something like this;
“Knock Knock!” “Who’s there?” “Interrupting Cow!” “Interrupting Cow wh….” “MOOOOO!”
The joke is supposed to be funny due to its comedic timing but when told to by a small child you laugh even harder due to the fact they missed that crucial aspect. Things can be funny for different reasons and laughter is not always because you get the joke!
Now I know for a fact that God is good. All of the time. He can’t help it. He is always faithful and He keeps His promises. If He said it He will do it – no question He will. But sometimes His timing is funny, and we don’t always see that as “funny ha ha”.
Carrying on in Genesis 18 today Abraham and Sarah receive 3 special visitors*. Abraham persuades them to stay for a meal;
“So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.” Then he ran and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant who hurried to prepare it.” Genesis 18:6-7
I think Abraham gets the whole comedy thing rolling here with his instruction “Quick.” It’s not like he just put the kettle on and found the biscuit tin! According to my footnotes 3 seahs of flour is about 16 kg! That is a huge amount of bread to knead without some sort of industrial mixer (the equivalent of over 600 burger buns!) and he didn’t just cook up a bit of meat – he went out to the herd and chose a calf, had a servant “prepare it” (I will leave you to read between the lines on that phrase) and then cooked it on a fire. Now I’ve been to a hog roast so I know there is some time involved in this bit too. It seems to me that “quick” may have had a slightly different definition for Abraham than it does for me. If I have unexpected guests for a meal time I usually go for egg on toast. Anyway – the “Quick” meal is prepared and the men eat it under a tree. They then ask about Sarah.
“Then one of them said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year and Sarah your wife will have a son.’ Now Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought ‘After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?’ Then the Lord* said to Abraham ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say “Will I really have a child now that I am old?” Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.'” Genesis 18:10-14
Who would believe that after decades of waiting Sarah would now become a mum? But that is what God promises “by this time next year.” Hope deferred can make a heart sick, and cynicism can creep in so that when we are at the moment of receiving our dream we laugh because it is too good to be true. We can be worn out pursuing our dream, exhausted from waiting, but it is God who gives us this pleasure in His perfect “NOW” time. It made me think about the master of the banquet, in John 2:10, whose miraculous wine made from water, was the best saved until NOW. Ha ha.
And then of course the rest of the chapter sees God’s friend Abraham interceding boldly yet humbly for Sodom and Gomorrah, appealing for mercy, reminding God of His character. What an incredible demonstration of prayer. I love that these two stories come together, and I’m reminded to keep asking on behalf of my friends who are waiting for God’s perfect “NOW”! God please bring the good kind of laughter as you put the lonely in families, cause barren places to become fruitful, bring the dead to life, open blind eyes, restore, repair and release – because that is what You are like.
For those of you who are in place of waiting and feel like, in regard to the dream God gave you that you are “past the age of childbearing”, I want to speak hope to you today – don’t give up! God’s timing is sometimes funny and many times different from ours, but I am praying that He will visit you and speak His “NOW” causing faith to be conceived in you today. Much love Rach x
Katy wrote a post on this chapter about God being influenced by His friend; Shall I Hide?
*Footnote – this is what I like to call a “Where’s Wally moment”. Gives me goosebumps everytime I see Jesus walk into an old-testament story. He’s my favourite.