The first obstacle Abram had to overcome was his personal limitations. One of the first things we learn about Abram and his wife Sarai was that she was “barren” and unable to conceive children (Genesis 11:30). God’s promise to provide Abram more descendents than could be counted was located at the very epicenter of Abram’s impossibility. God’s promises do not come to us at our point of strength. God’s promises come to us at our point of weakness, vulnerability and impossibility.
So there would be no explanation for his life apart from the intervention of God. When people look at your life what do they see? Do they see your skills? Your knowledge? Your talent? Your sophistication? Your charisma? Or do they see a life that is unexplainable? God’s promises are God-sized. When He intervenes in the lives of his children he leaves clear fingerprints.
The second obstacle Abram had to overcome was his private resources and resourcefulness. As we continue to survey the life of Abram, we read that 10 years pass following the promise. As time passes, Abram begins to grow impatient and devises a plan that would allow him to do God’s will his way and in accordance to his own timetable. In Genesis 15:1-3, Abram suggests to God that he could adopt his slave, Elieazar, and allow him to be the heir of promise. God said “no,” and restated his promise to Abram again. In Genesis 16:1-5, Abram and Sarai concoct another plan. This time Abram would use Hagar to become the surrogate mother of an heir to fulfill the promise. Even though Abram slept with Hagar and conceived Ishmael, God again rejected this substitution, and again reaffirmed his promise.
Sometimes we can grow impatient with God and in our impatience begin looking for substitutes. Every time we do, we settle for something less than God’s best.
My favorite C.S. Lewis quote reminds me that “our problem is not that we are too weak…our problem is that we are too strong.”
What is your weakness? That’s where God is most likely to begin his greatest work. What substitutes for God’s best are you offering to Him?
The promises of God will create a crisis of belief that will have to be overcome by faith. That’s true of Abram. That’s true of you, too.