December 31st

Waiting on God’s Best

1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:
"Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. "
2 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD , what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3 And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."
4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." 5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars-if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."  6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.  Genesis 15:1-6 NIV 

1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her." Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.  When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me." 6 "Your servant is in your hands," Abram said. "Do with her whatever you think best." Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. Genesis 16:1-6 NIV 

The story of Abram, Sarai and Hagar shows that it is best to wait on God for the outworking of promises he has made to us.  Sarai’s impatience led her down a road that was not God’s best for her family.  She took matters into her own hands, perhaps believing that God’s plan was for Abram and her to have children via Hagar.  Her act of impatience opened the door to jealousy, abuse and strife.  Hagar and Ishmael became thorns in Sarai’s side from the moment Hagar conceived.   

Some people may have the privilege of knowing what God’s specific plan is for their lives. Perhaps it is a call into full time ministry, or to be a leader in business or government, or to be a mother or father, or to take on some other role that may seem impossible considering our present circumstances.  Knowing the specifics of God’s long term plan can be a blessing, but it also can be a temptation.  If we grow impatient we may try to speed things along in our own efforts and wisdom, trying to help God out.  Unfortunately, as Sarai and Abram discovered, this can open the door to unpleasant consequences and it may even delay the fulfillment of the original plan God has for us.     

I’ve heard one pastor explain that taking things into our own hands results in birthing “Ishmaels” instead of “Isaacs”.  Ishmaels are accompanied by strife, conflict and pain.  They are the products of our limited strength and earthly wisdom.  They are inferior to the things God wants to accomplish in our lives.   Just as Isaac was the son of promise to Abram and Sarai, our Isaacs are the God-ordained things that occur in harmony with our faith and obedience to his word.  Isaacs are accompanied by peace, favor and blessing.   

We must also be careful about assuming what God plans to do.  Sarai assumed that God would use the practical means of her maidservant to give Abram a son.  God instead chose the supernatural route by allowing Sarai to become pregnant in her 90’s.  When God tells us that he is going to do something, we have the opportunity to believe him no matter how impossible it may seem in the natural.  God is the God of the impossible! 

Whether we know God’s plan or not, the challenge of waiting on the Lord for the good things that we want and need can be difficult. We live in a society that is self-serving and impatient.  If we can resist the worldly pressures and be patient with God, we’ll be pleasantly surprised in due time.   

Sex sin temptations are often invitations for us to stop waiting on God’s plan for our sexuality and partake of the pleasure that is available at the moment.  What are usually hidden or downplayed are the long term consequences of that short term pleasure of sin.  For example, as a college student, I yielded to such temptations, believing that I would eventually marry the girl I was dating.  I figured that maybe it was OK since we loved each other and were committed to each other (“going out”).  None of those rationalizations made our actions right and it turned out that we didn’t get married after all.  Those fornication experiences and the emotional wounds of our break-up would later detract from my marital intimacy.  They were like thorns in my side, just like Hagar and Ishmael were to Sarai.    

If we can trust God during the times of waiting, we’ll be much happier and free of troubles than if we act in impatience.  Consider what David wrote:  “Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14 NKJV).  David spent many hard years waiting for God’s promises to manifest.  He was a fugitive in the desert often during those times and I’m sure the temptations to doubt God were plentiful.  David hung in there and continued to believe God.  God kept his word and made him king.  God will keep his word for us too when we continue to walk with him and cling to the faith that he will come through for us at exactly the right time.   

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:  “Heavenly Father, I believe that you have good things in store for me because I am your child and a co-heir with Jesus.  Please forgive me for any impatience that I’ve yielded to in sin.  I renew my trust in your provision for my life…both for my needs and desires.  Please lead me in seeking first your kingdom and your righteousness.  I believe that you are God and that you are a rewarder of those who diligently seek you.  Please grant me the faith to wait on you, especially in the areas of: ___________ (list the areas that apply to you).  Please fill me with your perfect peace that will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.  Thank you, Lord!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”