In this Sunday’s reading, God asks Abram to be patient. Abram prepares the sacrifice God has requested, and then all he can do is wait. “Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram stayed with them.”
I wouldn’t want to be Abram, sitting in the hot sun with all those dead animals. But Abram was faithful—St. Jane de Chantal imagined him chasing off the birds with a stick while he waited for God to show up. And show up God did, with smoke and fire and glory.
Our waiting on God is rarely this dramatic, but I know for myself it sometimes feels just as fraught. As mothers, we spend a lot of time practicing patience. Anyone who has ever waited on a three-year-old who insists on putting on his own shoes—particularly as you get later and later for the doctor’s appointment—knows how difficult patience can be. Abram had great faith, but I can’t help thinking he must have wondered, perhaps with his buzzard-chasing stick in hand, “How much longer, Lord?”
So much waiting is built into our lives as mothers. We may wait to become pregnant, then for the baby to be born; for test results when something is wrong; for first words and first steps. Some of us wait impatiently for the first day of preschool, then wait more impatiently for our dear ones to come home at the end of the day. We wait in car lines and for teenage anger to fade, and sometimes for our children to return to the faith. The list could go on for pages, and none of it is easy. In the meantime, we wield our own sticks, praying, washing the laundry, limiting pre-teens’ phone time, and praying some more. We wait in faith that whatever we need, God will show up in his good time to provide it.
Often God’s plans are a mystery to us, and we can only wait patiently for them to unfold, just as Abram waited for God to confirm his covenant. Some waiting is harder than others—there may be birds of prey, fear, and doubt—but we can be confident that if we wait on the Lord, even if we have to keep a stick in hand, he will show up.