Waiting on God’s timing, especially when we are experiencing difficult times, is not often an easy thing to do. It is tempting to take matters into our own hands, not always as a blatant act of disobedience, but sometimes out of fear. We wonder if God hears us and so we act! Are you birthing an Ishmael?
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Waiting on God’s Timing
Sarai had been wanting a child for a long time! She yearned to give Abram a son. But it appeared to her, in her old age, that it was just not to be.
So in her desperation, she gives her servant, Hagar, to Abram as a surrogate, of sorts, so that she may have a child through her.
Sarai and Hagar
Genesis 16:1-4 tells us:
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.” NIV
God had made a covenant with Abram in Genesis 15: 5-6:
“He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” NIV
Despite this covenant, Sarai, his wife, did not trust God to bring it to pass through her. She was his wife! Nowhere did God command Abram to take another! And yet in waiting on God’s timing, she doubted it would come to pass, so she took matters into her own hands.
She put her own desire ahead of God’s plan.
Abram, in his own act of disobedience, did not reject his wife’s plea. He willingly listened to his wife and went in to Hagar and, by him, she conceived a son, Ishmael.
The Bible tells us in Romans 9:8 that Ishmael was not the son of promise but the child of the flesh.
“In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” NIV
Waiting on God’s Timing – Patience is Not My Virtue
I can relate to Sarai (then re-named Sarah by God).
Sometimes when things happen (or don’t happen) that threaten to derail MY plans, I feel like I have to step in and take action.
Now while I firmly believe I would NEVER make an offer to my husband like Sarah made to Abram (then re-named Abraham by God), I can most definitely understand where my dear ancestor was coming from.
She wanted a child more than anything and it wasn’t happening.
The promises of God were there, but, let’s be honest, she felt she had more power to make it happen than God did.
Waiting on God’s Timing – Lack of Trust in God
At the end of the day, it all boiled down to Sarah’s lack of trust. To her, waiting on God’s timing came with a fear that time was getting away from her and her ability to play a role in giving Abraham these descendants God spoke of was fading.
She may have believed that God would make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the sand in the seas but she did not believe enough to think He could do it without her own intervention.
I am guilty of this at times. I trust that God CAN bring something to pass, I just may question His desire to bring it to pass in MY life.
Sarah likely didn’t doubt God’s promise. She just doubted it would happen through her.
We are all guilty of putting God in the boxes of our own design. We have a mental picture of how we think God should work and, when that doesn’t happen, we are tempted to jump in rather than waiting on God’s timing and trusting that it is perfect timing.
In doing so, we are birthing Ishmaels in our lives. We are bringing about a situation or a relationship that God can bless and redeem in spite of our disbelief and disobedience, but it is not His plan for us.
And we end up creating our own Ishmael and then asking God to bless it!
Proverbs 3:5 says:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” ESV
Sarah was leaning on her own understanding. She saw things from HER perspective, instead of trusting in God’s plan.
In doing so, she ended up despising the very thing she brought upon herself.
Our own efforts are never as good for us as God’s provision.
In the end, God did as He promised. He brought about a great nation and used Sarah in her old age to do so.
If God promises, He WILL bring it to pass. So don’t birth an Ishmael. Wait upon God.
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