Okay.  We are going to view a real setback for our case study today.  Abraham is going to flunk a test.   At this point, he has already deviated from God’s request to leave his family by taking Lot with him on his new journey.  Today, we review Genesis 16 (feel free to read through it before proceeding), where despite God’s promise to bless Abraham with a child, Abraham loses faith, and time is the culprit.  It had been more than 10 years since God told Abraham that he would give him an heir.  That is a long time when you are waiting; yet, God seems bent on telling His people His plans far in advance.  It took David 15 plus years to finally become King of Israel.  God had been telling the Jews about the Messiah for hundreds of years, before His earthly debut.  There is something about waiting that drives the human race mad.  If you don’t believe it, consider how out outraged we can get while standing in a checkout line or how irate we can get when caught up in traffic. It is for this very reason that drive-through fast food has become a necessary evil, and don’t make us wait there either!  And don’t even get me started talking about waiting in a doctor’s office for my scheduled appointment!  There is something about having to wait beyond what we believe to be a reasonable amount of time that can flip our switch to crazy.  And I almost think this is what happened to Sarah and Abraham when they agreed to impregnate Sarah’s servant girl in order to fulfill God’s promise to them. 

“Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to have children. Since she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar, 2 Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from giving birth, so go to my servant. Maybe she will provide me with children.” Abram did just as Sarai said. 3 After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took her Egyptian servant Hagar and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant.”    Genesis 16:1-3a CEB

Sarah had been barren all those years before God ever promised her husband a child, and not once before had she ever offered a concubine as a solution to having children. So why now? Why would Abraham, a faithful husband, agree to sleep with another woman?  This is much more serious than losing your cool in a drive-through.  This is some serious lapse in judgment, all because the wait seemed too long for Sarah and Abraham.  We can come to the end of ourselves when we believe God is not going to fulfill His promise to us.  Why does God make us wait???  Why can He not tell us about His plans just before He brings them to pass?  Wouldn’t that be so much better and easier on everyone?  Unfortunately, I have realized that I am not any better at waiting on God than Abraham and Sarah.  Years ago, while waiting on God to fulfill a promise to me I flipped on my crazy switch during the wait because… I did not understand the wait.  I now view the waiting process very differently.  I believe God gives us the wait to make sure that we are truly serious about His plans for us, whatever they may be.  The wait tests

our heart,

our motives and

our dependence upon God.

 

I hope I’ve learned my lesson and plan to do better with future waits.   What about you?

We may say that Abraham deviated yet again, but why did he?  Can it be summed up in one word?  Mistrust.  It almost seems unfathomable that we, God’s very own creation, could mistrust Him.  Yet, it seems the longer we wait the more prone we are to begin to doubt that we heard God clearly.  It is this part of the wait where the object of God’s promise can begin to take on a life of its own and actually become more important than our trust relationship with God.  So much so, that we are willing to take matters into our own hands to obtain it.  This is what happened to Abraham and Sarah; their mistrust in God’s ability to deliver on His promise drove them to take matters into their own hands, at any cost, in order to get what they now desired above all else.  This must displease God very much –  taking what God has intended as a blessing, and turning it into an idol. Need I say what God must think about that!  So what can we do while we wait?

  1. Whenever I feel like I need to make something happen in order to achieve God’s goal during my wait, I remind myself in prayer that if this is God, and I believe it is, then I will leave it with Him to bring it into fruition.  See, it takes the pressure off me.  I am not the one who has to make something happen, especially God’s plans.  If God said it, He is able to do it.  Isaiah 46:11b says, “What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.” (NIV)  These holy Words becomes my mantra in times like these.
  2. Whenever I feel like I am wasting away in the wait, I focus on what God has given me to do in the now.  For example, God gave me many messages to teach long before He ever gave me a class to teach.  This was exciting, yet frustrating.  I would be thankful, but annoyed that I had no one to teach.  Even still, I studied them, wrote them out and archived them.  Good thing, because when my “great door of effective work” (1 Corinthians 16:9) opened for me at church, it swung wide.  There were times I was literally ministering at every service in some capacity.  Had I neglected what God had given me while I waited I would have been totally unprepared.  Apparently, God knows what He is doing!
  3. Whenever I start doubting, I write down every confirmation I get.  It may be a scripture that is spoken during a sermon, a lyric in a worship song, or a word from a friend.  I review them frequently and feel recharged in my commitment to wait.  When God foretold of the coming Messiah, He spoke to His people over and over again in various ways so that when Jesus finally appeared, and especially after He died and was resurrected, there were many references for the New Testament church to refer to when sharing the gospel message. Years ago when I failed to wait, I later recalled the words of encouragement that were given to me and now they seemed almost prophetic.  I should have waited!  Hindsight is 20/20.

When we begin to lose our trust in God, there can be terrible consequences.  Hagar did have Abraham’s child, but it was not the child of God’s promise.  This act of distrust created issues for Sarah, put Hagar’s life in danger, and eventually caused heartache for Abraham when he had to part ways with his son.  At every turn of disobedience, Abraham incurred great imposition and heartache.  He clearly recognized how his sin affected others.  So much so, that he made a dramatic change.  Tune into my next post and see Abraham’s magnificent turnaround in his faith and follow-through! (Yes, it is a cliff-hanger)

~gina

 

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“Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” has just won the BEST BOOK award in the Prayer Category by Christian Retailing Magazine! See the press release here.

Award-winning author Gina Duke is a wife, mother and Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. She is a witty and point-on expositor of God’s Word as a conference speaker. With a B.S. in Organizational Leadership, Gina is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. Gina also blogs and offers numerous videos and resources at GinaDuke.com. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.

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