“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.” ~God
I would like for you to think of the oldest person you know. It could be a relative, neighbor, friend–whoever–but picture a person who looks to be knocking on heaven’s door. They are old. Now, just imagine if that person was told:
“I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.” (See Genesis 22:17)
That happened. That really happened! God said this to Abraham, who was already enjoying the senior citizen discount at Denny’s! At 99 years old, He said, “I will make you fruitful!” (see Genesis 17:6) and Abraham knew there was no more fruit to be grown!…Or so he thought.
God even took it a step further and told Abraham it would be his wife, Sarah, who’d give birth! Abraham couldn’t hold back any longer, he burst out in laughter, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety? If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” (See Genesis 17:17-18).
Who was Ishmael? Ishmael was Abraham’s back-up plan, a child who was conceived by way of Sarah’s helper, Hagar. When it came to the promise of countless descendants, God wasn’t moving fast enough for Abraham and Sarah. So they concocted a plan for Abraham to sleep with Hagar…and he did, resulting in Ishmael.
Have you ever done that before? Tried to rush God through human effort? You are praying, and hoping, and living the life God wants you to live–but you feel like what God has promised hasn’t happened fast enough, so you come up with an idea to help God? What happens when we do this? We get a microwaved blessing. We get an Ishmael. We get our back-up plan, which is not as good as God’s original plan, had we been patient!
Now, Ishmael was still loved by God and God had a plan for even him. God uses all of our choices together for good–even our forced choices–so there is never a need to worry. However, Ishmael was not the promise God had for Abraham and Sarah. He wanted Issac to be born. The lineage God had planned for Israel was in Isaac, not Ishmael.
Abraham and Sarah couldn’t see that. So when death was knocking on their door, Sarah suggested Abraham sleep with Hagar to keep their family going. He obliged, and then Sarah got mad at Abraham for doing so…I’m going to move forward.
Although it was her idea, she resented Hagar and Ismael, and had them sent away. Her back-up plan blew up in her face and did nothing but cause her to be resentful and bitter. GOD HAD A BETTER PLAN HAD SHE JUST BEEN PATIENT! Had she just trusted Him, strife and division in her family could have been saved.
BUT! At just the right time, when God wanted her to conceive, she did!
“Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age (Issac), at the very time God had promised him.” (Genesis 21:2, my note added)
“At the very time God had promised!” Do you see that? Do you see that God was right on time with His promise? All along, they didn’t need a back-up plan–they just had to wait!
Friend, God is faithful. God knows what you want, He knows what you need, and He knows what’s best! You are His child! He loves you! He knows about every detail of your life on an even deeper level than you do! Today, give yourself permission to get rid of your back-up plan. Talk to God about it. Let Him know you trust Him. Let Him know that no matter when He decides to fulfill the promise He’s placed in your heart, you will be who He has created you to be on the inside: a grateful child with a wonderful attitude. This is the peace He has planned for you! Trust Him today!
A prayer for you: God, we know you love us. We know that your plan for all of us, ultimately, is Christ in us, and we have that promise today! We have all we truly need, right now! However, you also know we have individual desires for our lives, relationships, careers, finances, and our health. We don’t want to force anything and get an Ismael, we want our Issac. Give us wisdom to make the right choices. We want what you want, we honestly do! So we are going to trust you, we are going to get rid of our back-up plans, and we are going to be who you have created us to be, your children. We love you! We know your promises are never late! In Jesus’ name, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 3. Get your copy here!