“Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them…so shall your descendants be.” (Genesis 15:5)
I have a secret dream.
It is a dream that has long been in hibernation. One that has, only now, been made manifest even in my own mind, at the midway point in my life.
I have been wondering why it has taken so long for these dreams of mine to surface. Am I just a late bloomer? I have come to the conclusion that sometimes, dreams just get mentally shelved. Relegated to the upper corner of our minds when life’s demands begin to take over.
But they are still there.
Abram also had a dream, way back when:
“Now the Lord said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country…to a land that I will show you…I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great…And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ ”
Was this Abram’s secret dream or did God put this in his heart? I would say, both is true. God created us, including our desires, hopes and dreams that align with His purpose for us. (Jeremiah 1:5). And if He put them there, He will bring them to pass. In His time.
Shortly thereafter, Abram undertakes an exceedingly long journey through travels into unknown territory, enduring famine, encountering possibly hostile, Egyptian forces, and rescuing his brother, Lot, from captivity by raiding armies. Life has been eventful, to say the least, and his life has been marked by his continuing faithfulness to God. Throughout these trials, God does not cease to remind Abram of his promise that he shall be the father to great nations.
We do not see Abram dwell on this promise. I am certain that in his mind, if God says that it will happen, then it will.
But after he rescues Lot from the kings that raided Sodom, Lot’s new home town, Abram’s trusting, patient demeanor takes a bit of a turn: “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless…Look You have given me no offspring…”
This is the first time we actually hear from Abram, expressing what is in his heart. Prior to this, we only see God speaking to Abram’s heart about the promise. Why this distinction if Abram’s secret desires are synonymous to God’s? I believe this change in narrative perspective marks a prise de conscience, a conscious reawakening to his secret dream, long relegated to take a back seat to life’s pressures.
But it is still there.
For Abram, time is ticking. Having children isn’t exactly something, in our human minds, that one can wait on forever. And as time moves forward, he becomes increasingly cold to God’s promises, even going so far as committing polygamy with a maidservant (sanctioned by his wife and legal, however contrary to God’s plan) to hasten the process.
So does God renege on his Promise to Abram? Does He then recoil in disgust and bestow His promise to some other, more faithful person? Frankly, I would. But not God.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, “the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God…My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations…’ ” (Genesis 17:1)
Still, “Abram fell on his face and laughed…” He then suggests that God is probably referring to Ishmael as his heir, his son with Hagar, the maidservant. (Genesis 17:17)
But God is unrelenting, “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son…” (Genesis 17:19)
At this point, Abram is still doubtful, but he continues to do as God asks by immediately circumcising Ishmael and all the men of his household. (Genesis 17:23)
I believe this point is critical. Continuing to do as God asks. Even as we sometimes doubt. We need to be honest with God. Lay our worries and insecurities bare. But keep moving. Keep praying. Keep going. I believe that doubt and unbelief are two very different things. Doubt is a feeling. Belief is an action. We can doubt, but still believe by continuing to move. God can forgive doubt, but belief in Him is non-negotiable if we are to see the fulfillment of His Promise.
We know the end of this story. Sarai, now Sarah, gives birth to Isaac at age 90; Abram, now Abraham, is 100.
As my husband and I continue to cling to God, trusting him with our secret, as yet unfulfilled, desires, I hope and pray that we do nothing to hasten the process. If the Lord of the Universe put those desires into our hearts, then we must trust, believe that He will bring them to pass:
“And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”
I look forward to saying, as did Sarah, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.”
Until then, I will believe.