Thursday, June 5, 2008

By Stages

And Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb. (Genesis 12:9)

I recall standing in the driveway of our home when I was 10 waiting, but not at all patiently, for it to be time to go to the town fair. Fifty years on, I still struggle with my impatience. When I want something, I want it now.

But that's not the way important things happen in our lives. Like Abram, who "journeyed on by stages," we move towards life's important goals and events by stages, at times, it seems, by baby steps. A wise friend once told me that healing may come quickly, but growth takes time. God's promises may come to us in an instant, but the securing of those promises usually takes time.

Abram was promised that he would become a great nation, a nation that would in future generations be given a land in which to dwell. It was years before Abram and Sarai would have the son, Isaac, who was the promised heir, and it would be hundreds of years before the children of Israel would possess the land. When we read the story of Abram and Sarai in Genesis, we read of moments when Abram's faith in God wavered, when he seemed not at all sure that God would keep the promise. But in the end, Abram "believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." (Romans 4:3)

This past weekend our son Matthew graduated from law school. He has a diploma and a job that will begin in September, but much of his time during the next two months will be spent preparing for the bar exams, and he expects that he would not be admitted to the bar before next February. Like so many graduates, Matthew will journey by stages towards his goal. Like so many graduates, he will have moments when we wishes that the goal could be achieved in an instant. And like his father before him, he may struggle with impatience. In the end, however, I believe that he will trust that God has called him and has been preparing him for this vocation , and he will travel by stages towards the realization of God's promise.

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