I have been reading through the book of Genesis for the past 6 months. It’s been quite the journey and, as always, God’s timing is amazing as He revealed how this book of beginnings is still so relevant to my life. These verses today are so familiar so I prayed for God to reveal something new and fresh to me—something I had not learned or thought about in the studies I did. He never fails to answer our prayers when we want to learn more about Him.
11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”
14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba. (Gen. 20:11-14) NIV
Now Ishmael was Abraham’s son and he loved him very much. He had been trusting God for the offspring he had been promised and Ishmael was given to him through Sarah’s servant, Hagar. Perhaps after the birth of Isaac, the atmosphere around camp had changed. Maybe the words God said about Ishmael were proving to be true. (Gen 16:12 – He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.) Is it possible Sarah could see this yet Abraham could not see beyond the love he had for his son? When God confirmed he needed to send Ishmael away, Abraham obeyed God. But I would be willing to bet he stood and watched him leave until Ishmael had disappeared over the horizon. He had no idea if he would ever see his son again. I can imagine his heart was breaking.
Doesn’t this seem to be a precursor to what God asks Abraham to do with Isaac—who was the fulfillment of God’s promise for offspring? Once again, God was asking Abraham to let go of someone dearly loved (Isaac) and trust the outcome to Him. (Genesis 22:1-18)Abraham knew God had promised him more descendants than stars in the sky. But instead of waiting for God’s plan to unfold, he went about answering his own prayer his own way. I wonder if the pain of letting go of Ishmael was in his mind as he walked up the mountain with Isaac. Taking matters into our own hands and not waiting for God (sin) leaves a residue and can rear its ugly head when we least expect it. God knows what the consequences will be when we don’t obey—that is why we are always wise to obey Him. Time has taught me that–no, in all honesty its been consequences that taught me that. More than once! Being forgiven of sin can’t take away the consequences of our actions.
I have learned in my own life that running ahead of God, trying to solve problems my way, usually ends up badly. Through bad choices, thinking I know better, or not even thinking to ask God to begin with I have experienced pain and loss that God never intended. God has had to peel my fingers off of my plans, my desires, and my dreams. He has a better plan. I don’t see it at the time. In one instance, He asked me to say goodbye to a long-time friendship. This person was a good person, a Godly person. However, they weren’t the best God had for me. I can see that now. It took time and emotional distance to see it, but now I do. I grieved the loss of that friendship but, truth be told, it was a friendship of my own doing not someone God brought into my life. I caused my own pain. Abraham had caused his.
Lord, thank you for forgiving me when I try to take control away from you and fall flat on my face. You never tell me “I told you so” or “serves you right” as the world does. Your compassion for me, even when I fail, makes me love you even more. I don’t always see the big picture. I want to be like Abraham and quickly obey you when you ask me to do something. Help me to trust you in all your ways! In Jesus name, Amen