Out of the Garden, part twenty

Before looking at today’s verse in Genesis we first need to look back at the promise that God made to Abram.

Genesis 15:4-6 Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” 5 Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” 6 And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.

It’s one of the all time great promises in the Bible and we get it here in the opening book. Countless generations spill out from this moment, so much of history hinges upon this promise that God made to Abram. And pay special attention to verse 6. Abram believed. He did not doubt the Lord, he believed that the promise would come to pass.

Waiting is not one of our strong suits as humans. It’s only gotten worse with technological advancements. A meal cooked in the microwave in minutes, the entirety of human knowledge available within seconds via the internet, friends and family around the globe reachable within seconds thanks to phones. As we’ve grown accustomed to these conveniences our tolerance for waiting has all but disappeared. But waiting has been a struggle for humans for a long time, and we see that here in the life of Abram and his wife Sarai. They are growing older, and the promise of God hasn’t come to pass yet. So they decide to help.

Genesis 16:1-2 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal.

Despite repeated promises from God that he and Sarai would have a son, Abram decides to take it into his own hands and do it his own way. He hears a very bad idea from his wife and just as the word says in verse 2, Abram agreed with the proposal. As I was studying this I thought of a phrase. “Look daddy, I’m helping!” Little boys love emulating their fathers, and one particularly adorable way they do that is by trying to help in situations when realistically their dad has no need of their help.

Here’s an example. A father is hammering some nails into a wall, working on a home improvement project. He looks over when he hears these words from his 5-year-old son. “Look daddy, I’m helping!” These situations generally go one of two ways. At best, the kid is sitting there hitting a fake nail with a plastic toy hammer, obviously not actually helping the project. At worst, the kid has selected a spot of his own on the wall and busted a hole in it with daddy’s backup hammer, turning a home improvement project into a repair project also. Either way, no matter how pure the intentions of the child, they didn’t actually assist dad.

That’s what I felt about Abram as he goes along with this plan. He had the promise from God and at one time he believed the promise from God, but enough time passed for doubt to creep in. He decided to help. He tried to work using the strength and intelligence of man to fulfill the divine promise of God. The result of this mistake would reverberate negatively throughout the ages, all because Abram tried to act in his own strength and rush things instead of waiting on God.

I’m not immune to the difficulties of waiting. Sometimes I want nothing more than to take hold of the steering wheel of my life and give it a good spin in a new direction. But when God makes a promise, God carries it out. When God sets something in motion, it’s vitally important to remember that our role is simply to obey. We’re not the mastermind, we’re not the power, we’re not the strength. That’s hard to accept sometimes because we want to be the boss, but if you’re operating under the lordship of Jesus then you are a servant. God gave Abram a promise with no due date. The child was promised to him, it was a God promised certainty. Abram’s only role in it was to wait for it to come to pass.

We rarely see it at the time, but there is a special sort of arrogance when we try to take God’s plan into our own hands and our own timing and try to put it into action. The strength and intelligence of man fails, but God’s never does. When we overreach and try to do too much, pure intentions or not, we often end up making a mess of things. I’ve witnessed it, and I’ve been guilty of doing it. If you find yourself in a season of distress while you wait on something to come to pass, stay in constant communication with God about it. He hasn’t forgotten His promise, nor will He ever fail to follow through on it.
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I hope anyone out there reading this is doing well and that your week is off to a great start! It’s been far too long since I posted on this blog but I’m excited about getting back to it!

 

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