13 years of silence, A.W. Tozer quote, Abraham and Sarah, acting presumptuously, brithed an Ishmael, doing it our own way, dry spells, fresh encounter, Genesis 17:1-3, hunger for the promises of God, lost years, pity party, repent
One of the reasons I identify with Abraham and Sarah is because their spiritual walk was not perfect. They both made plenty of mistakes, but didn’t stay in that condition. Eventually, they got things back on track with the Lord. Maybe, like Abraham, you have blown it spiritually. You need a fresh encounter with God and a renewed vision.
Spiritually speaking, it is never too late to make a fresh start because we are never beyond God’s reach. In Genesis 17, God challenges Abraham to move to a new level of trust and faith. This was a time when Abraham probably thought his best years were behind him. Yet, God asked him to step up and believe. It is amazing to consider that when we think it is all over, God is thinking about new beginnings.
Now 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 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying… (Genesis 17:1-3)
Abraham was now ninety-nine years old. Twenty-four years had passed since God’s initial call and he had left Ur. It had also been thirteen years since the events recorded in Genesis 16. So far as we can tell, God had not spoken since He and Hagar got together. Thirteen years of silence! If we would be honest with ourselves, we too have experienced long periods of “dry spells” in which God’s revelations and appearances were few and far between. It didn’t really have to be this way. But because we held on to our sin and kept walking in disobedience, even after being confronted with the truth, God remained silent.
I remember on one occasion when I was upset with the Lord over His dealings with me. I was sulking and throwing a spiritual pity party. After a few days of this, I soon realized that no one was attending my pity party but me. A few days later I was praying and heard these words from the Lord, “I am not going to come and get you this time.” In other words the Lord was telling me, “He wasn’t going to attend my selfish pity party either.” I decided it would be better to repent and return to the Lord, rather than continue in my self-absorbed vanity. I still didn’t understand the Lord’s dealings in my life. But at least I was on track again. It was only months later that I understood what God was doing. Sometimes it is better to repent first and ask questions later.
Here is the point: When we insist on “doing it our own way”, we will eventually eat the fruit of those seeds. Thirteen years earlier Abraham had taken a wrong turn (he and Sarah birthed an Ishmael). For thirteen years there had been only silence from heaven. These were years of unhappiness and unrest in the household of Abraham. Yes, the old couple had a child… but it wasn’t the “child of promise.” By their own hands, they produced unwanted/ungodly interference to God’s plan. It wouldn’t have been so difficult had not the promise of God still been lingering in the air. The presence of Ishmael in the home created contempt, bitterness, envy, and strife. Yes, they had problems before this, but they were always ultimately victorious. I don’t believe these were necessarily lost years. God used these thirteen years to teach Abraham the cost of acting presumptuously on his own.
One of the most frightening things in life is when you insist on having things your own way. God may let you have your way for a season. You may be sorry you asked for it. But ultimately for those who are hot hearted for God, the hunger for the promises of God draw you back.