Posted by: glorifyhim1 | January 21, 2013

Running Ahead of God

Recently, I was going over and over a situation in my life that I felt desperately needed “fixing.” I’m sure you know the kind I’m talking about. It may be a matter of the heart, something that is just between you and God. Or perhaps it is something so personal and raw that you just can’t talk about it with anyone. It is the kind of thing that you may have on your mind when you silently raise your hand in church to acknowledge an unspoken prayer request. You know you have a need, but it’s not something you can easily talk about.

Have you been there? I can think of a few times when I have. I would pray about the situations and even come to a measure of peace over unsolved issues. But, invariably, as I waited for God’s answer, I would start trying to work out my own solution to the situation at hand. Instead of waiting for God to work things out, I would run ahead and start trying to “fix” things on my own. And time and time again I discovered that my “fixes” generally just created more problems.

That’s what happened to Abram’s wife, Sarai. Chapters 12-21 in the book of Genesis tell us much of Sarai’s story. God called Abram when he was 75 years old to leave his home and to go to the place that God would show him. He promised to bless Abram and to make him a great nation. Abram obeyed. He took his family and his possessions and left. Later God promised to make Abram’s descendants as the “dust of the earth.” Yet as Abram and Sarai sojourned, they remained childless.

Then God appeared to Abram, yet again, and said: “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (Genesis 15:1b). “But Abram said, ‘Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ Then Abram said. ‘Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir?’” (Genesis 15:2-3). But God reconfirmed His promise to Abram. This time He told Abram to look toward heaven and count the stars if he was able. “So shall your descendants be.” (See Genesis 15:4-5).

I’m sure that by this time Sarai was more confused than ever. She certainly wondered how, at her age, she could still mother a child. So as she thought and thought about the situation, she devised a plan. It made perfect sense to her. She would give her maid, Hagar, to Abram. Perhaps she could obtain children by her. And it worked! Hagar gave birth to Ishmael and he was Abram’s son. Now Abram had an heir that could fulfill God’s promise.

But Sarai soon discovered what we, too, often find out when we try to help out God. The plans and schemes we think up with our human reasoning generally contribute to our problems rather than solve them. Because of Sarai’s attempt to work out God’s promise, there were immediate problems between her and Hagar. Later when Sarai did give birth to the heir that God had promised, problems developed between Ishmael and Isaac that would last far into the future. Sarai’s futile attempt to help out God not only caused consequences for her, but also for future generations.

I find myself feeling sorry for Sarai – probably because I identify so much with her. What do we do when we do not seem to be getting an answer from God? Consider some of our options.

  • Devise our own plan to help God accomplish His purposes.
  • Talk our plan over with God, tell Him what we plan to do, then ask Him to bless it.
  • Worry, fret, and complain because our problem is not getting solved.
  • Give up on God and seek direction elsewhere.
  • Wait on God.

There is only one right answer listed above. No matter how hard it is to turn our problems over to God and wait, waiting on Him is the only choice we should ever make. Why? It is the choice of faith. Just as Sarai could not conceive how God could fulfill the promise He made to Abram, sometimes we feel the same way. The Bible is filled with precious promises for all believers, yet we may find ourselves struggling or enduring hardships that seem far removed from these promises. But when the banged-up believer keeps on trusting and waiting patiently for God to work things out according to His plan, He is telling God and everybody else “I Believe!” On the other hand, the believer who tries to outrun God and handle things himself is exhibiting a lack of trust in God. For some reason he doesn’t feel that he can trust God to work out the details in his life.

I admit that when I think about it this way, I am so ashamed of the times I’ve tried to outrun God and do things my way. Yet even in our failures, God is still faithful. Although Sarai exhibited a lack of trust in not waiting for God to fulfill His promise, she is still listed in Hebrews 11 as a heroine of faith. In fact, she had even laughed in disbelief when God had told Abram that Sarai would have a son when she was 90 years old (see Genesis 18:15). So how can she be considered a woman of faith? Hebrews 11:11 states: “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11). Childbearing is not easy at any age, but can you imagine having a child when you are 90 years old? Can you imagine bring up a teenager when you’re over 100? Sarah found strength from the One who made it all possible. She personally witnessed His fulfillment of the promise He had made and she trusted Him for the strength she needed to do what He called her to do.

Perhaps that is good advice for me as well. When I’m troubled over things and my faith seems small, I need to look to the God I know who has been faithful to me in the past. David gives us some helpful advice in Psalm 37 as to how we can respond as we wait for God.

  • Do not fret because of evildoers
  • Do not envy workers of iniquity
  • Trust in the Lord
  • Do good
  • Feed on His faithfulness
  • Delight yourself in the Lord
  • Commit your ways to Him
  • Cease from anger
  • Rest in the Lord
  • Wait patiently for Him

As I stop my fretting, remember God’s faithfulness, and surrender my way to Him, I won’t have to worry about running ahead of God. Instead I can rest in Him, knowing that I can trust Him to work out all the details of my life.

 

 

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Responses

  1. I am definitely guilty of running ahead of God at times. And telling Him my plans and asking for Him to bless it. Thanks for the reminder that God’slove ways are always the best.


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