Waiting for God's Promises
“And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.” (Genesis 21:8-14, ESV)
We’ve all been there.
None of us can say that we’ve never done something outside of God’s will before. The reason being, it’s not a strong suit of humanity to let God have full control over our lives. So it might be easy to say that God has given us a promise, but it’s even harder to walk in it. Why? Because God’s timing is never our timing.
Take Abraham for example: He was a young man in a new marriage when God first told him that he would have a son and that son would be made into a nation. If I were Abraham, I’d have assumed that God would give me that son while I was still young, or at the very least, during the time in my life where having kids was a possibility.
But no, for Abraham and his wife, Sarah, their youth comes and goes and God still hasn’t provided a son. They continued waiting well into their old age, far past the time when having babies was possible.
They waited 25 years, which is far longer than I think any normal person would wait for a promise from God. But Abraham and Sarah didn’t wait patiently. Sarah offered her slave woman, Hagar, to Abraham to conceive a child. Together, Abraham and Hagar have a son, Ishmael, a son born out of the fleshly desire to help God along in His promises. And I wish that I could say that I would have reacted and treated the situation differently if I were in the same position, but if I’m being honest, I’m not so sure I would.
Because I know what it feels like to be impatient on a promise from God; to want to experience it so badly that you want to take the first exit into anything that even remotely seems like that promise. But God never takes the path of least resistance the way we do. Instead, He takes the time to build our faith; because that’s the whole purpose of the promise– not for us to receive the blessing of the promise, but for us to have grown and matured into the person God needs us to be so that we can handle the weight of the promise.
And although God never passed over Abraham and gave the promise to someone else because of his impatience, it doesn’t mean that Abraham didn’t have to reckon with the choice between the impact of that disobedience and the blessings of what God truly had for him.
Because 13 years after his first son, Ishmael was born, Sarah gave birth to a son in their old age– the son God promised them they’d always have, Isaac. And when it came time for the baby to be weaned, Abraham threw a feast to celebrate. In the midst of the celebration, Sarah saw 13-year-old Ishmael scoffing at the baby Isaac. The inevitable rivalry between the son of flesh and the son of promise was finally beginning to rear its head, and Sarah didn’t like it. In response, she told Abraham he had to cast out Hagar and her son.
Abraham, being the boy’s father, still had love for Ishmael. Even if Ishmael wasn’t the promised son from God, he was still Abraham’s child, and he didn’t relish the thought of letting the boy go. I’m sure Abraham had hopes that the two could be brothers and everyone could coexist. But because the two boys represented two very different sides of Abraham, that could never be.
It’s the same for us. God has given us a promise: that if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and He came to redeem us as the Bride of Christ, we would be able to live for eternity with God the Father. That’s the ultimate promise, and after that, there may be other promises God makes us as individual people– a spouse, a child, a home, a purpose, etc.
But if we want our own agenda and successes so badly that we force them to happen and call it God’s will, then we will be forced to make a decision between wanting God’s eternal and wonderful promises and wanting our own manipulated circumstances. And you might think that’s easy for me to say. I’ll never know what it’s like to be a parent forced to cast out a child in order to allow God to have His way, but the fact of the matter is that if we decide to make choices in our own power, we will have to deal with the consequences in that same power.
And ultimately, that decision speaks volumes about the condition of your heart and the desires of your soul. If Abraham chose to defend and hold onto the son of his flesh, trying to make both families work, he might have cost himself the son of promise from God. Because God will not continue to force His will upon you. He won’t ask you to live a life you’ve proven you’re not ready for. If you can’t cast out the things you’ve mustered and built in your flesh to give God’s promise the proper space, attention, and priority in your life, then you show you’re not truly ready for the promise.
Maybe there’s something in your hand today that needs to be let go. Maybe God wants you to move to another state, but you keep finding reasons to stay where you are. Maybe you keep creating job opportunities that will push you up the ladder, but God wants you to stay where you are so He can give you a different career move. I don’t know what that is for you today, but I do know this: You may want your dreams now, but I promise that you don’t want them in the ways you can force them to happen.
Instead, let God do what He does best, and in His own time. It would be hard to wait 25 years for the promise to come, but it will be a lot easier to wait rather than to undo the mistakes you made when you should have been waiting. So today, I’m praying for you. I’m praying that God will give you the strength, the patience, and the desire to hold your ground and wait for God to come through for you.