May 7, 2014

Wait for Isaac and Don't Settle for Ishmael

Genesis 16:1-2, 16
"Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar.  And Sarai said to Abram, 'Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.'  And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
…And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael."
A godly man, a great man, a man with a calling from God…a man who made a really bad decision.  A decision that put his future in jeopardy.  A decision that put his family in turmoil.  A decision he made all because he was impatient.
Isaac was God’s plan for Abraham, He had promised him a son.  Abraham believed the promise, but he didn’t know when God would deliver this promise.  Time went by…precious time…time that Abraham didn’t think that he had.  So, like many of us, Abraham caved into his impatience and acted upon it.  He gave into pressure, settled, and Ishmael was born.  Ishmael was the result of Abraham’s impatience.

Abraham was a man just like us.  I love that the bible tells the whole story about the heroes of faith, even when their faith was not so heroic but was weak, impatient, and foolish.  When I read this story I see myself.  I’ve not done exactly what Abraham did, but I’ve done many things that showed just as much weakness, impatience, and foolishness.

Impatience never pays off.  It gets in the way.  It worries us.  Frustrates us.  Consumes us.  When we act upon it, it messes a lot of things up…for us and for others.  I’m an impatient person and truth be told, we all are to a degree.  There are many times in our lives where we’ve all settled for Ishmael and missed out on the blessing of Isaac.

Just like Abraham, God makes to us many promises as His children of faith.  He gives us many opportunities to receive incredible and impossible blessings…blessings like Isaac.  But just like Abraham, our impatience tries to get in the way and threatens to ruin it all and put our future in jeopardy and our family in turmoil.

I’d like to tell you 30 things about waiting for Isaac in your life and hope to encourage you to refuse to settle for Ishmael.
Why do we settle for Ishmael?
1.  We live by the clock and calendar.  We allow our lives to be dictated by deadlines, alarms, schedules, dates, appointments, and agendas of the world.  God's clock and calendar must always trump this world’s and ours.
2.  We hate waiting.  Waiting causes us to look around and search for solutions to fix the wait.  Options and solutions are always out there that seem to promise quick answers and quick fixes.
3.  We worry.  We are worrywarts when we have to wait.   Anxiety on top of anxiety builds.  Pressure upon pressure presses us.
4.  We get desperate.  Desperation tempts us to opt for good things over waiting for great things.  Sometimes we so badly want answers and so desperately want out of a situation that the good and better can divert us from waiting on the great and Godly.
5.  We will always be tempted to listen to people who are just as impatient as we are.  We are impatient and so are others.  We have a problem with faith and so do others.  But, we also need the advice and wisdom of others.  Getting advice and counsel from others is wise, but their counsel can also be flawed.  This creates a confusing situation that will sometimes send your mind and heart on a roaster coaster ride.  We must keep in mind that all people are impatient and that the good advice of others doesn't always constitute as God's advice.  People will advise us, pressure us, draw ultimatums for us...sometimes in the name of faith and love.  Please, do take and consider counsel from's just foolish not to (see Proverbs 12:15), but act based up the council of the Spirit of God and the Word of God.  Remember that human advice can be, well, human…everyone looks in the mirror dimly just like we do (see 1 Corinthians 13:12).
6.  We sometimes mistake progressive action as faith action.  Progressive, bold, and courageous action is not always the action of faith.  God doesn't always lead us to take a 'leap' of faith.  Sometimes He desires us to take a 'walk' of faith, a 'wait' of faith, or a 'lesson' of faith.
Ishmael creates problems
7.  Impatience creates unnecessary drama
8.  Impatience creates unnecessary heartache and headache
9.  Impatience creates inerasable situations
10.  Impatience tempts you to partake in compromising activity and sin
11.  Impatience can consume us and confuse us.  Because we are impatient we are always thinking and analyzing every opportunity and every scenario and every piece of advice and looking for signs.  Impatience will take you over and it will drive you nuts.  Too many hours of sleep have been lost, too many Tylenols, Advil, Ibuprofen have been taken because of the anxiety, worry, and confusion the consuming nature of my impatience has caused.
12.  Impatience is a lack of faith, period.  People will tell you it's understandable, excusable, and justifiable, they are liars.  It is not.  It's selfish, foolish, and arrogant.  It is natural, and we do come by it honestly, but such is the case with all sin.  Acting in impatience is sin and a slap in the face of a faithful loving God who has prepared his best waiting for you.  I’m not good at math but I have learned this equation:  faithlessness + pride + arrogance + selfishness + foolishness + narcissism + lack of trust + rashness + ignorance = impatience.  You say you are being too harsh.  Fine, but understand that I'm pointing the finger at myself first.  Every instance of my impatience has ultimately been because I’ve lacked faith in a Faithful God.
Some Advice on Waiting or Isaac
13.  Trust God.  Give Him the benefit of the doubt.  He’s never fallen short on His promises before and you won’t be the first.  Just trust Him.
14.  Pray and mean "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."   Every impatient person prays the same prayer, but actually means, “thy will be done on earth as it is at McDonalds."
15.  Continually remind yourself of what God has said and what God has promised.  His Word and His voice must always speak louder and heavier than others.  We must always be reminding ourselves of the good Word of God and the good promises of God.  It may not match up to our demanding and hurried timetable, but His Word never returns void, but always succeeds (Isaiah 55:11).  And isn’t his time always better than ours?
16.  Truly wanting God's results will help you wait for God's results.
17.  Learn to discern the still small voice of God from the hurried loud voice of the flesh.
18.  Take one step at a time, one foot at a time.
19.  Follow your heart but lead with your head.
20.  Learn the difference between the work of God verses the work of man.
21.  If it doesn’t line up with God’s Word and God’s way then it’s never right and will always reap compromised results, very often, harmful results.
22.  Put pleasing God above pleasing self and others.

Benefits of Waiting for Isaac
23.  Patience brings Gods's best
24.  Patience grows us
25.  Patience builds our faith
26.  Patience puts us on the ride of a lifetime
27.  Patience honors God
28.  Patience builds a compelling testimony to God’s faithfulness
29.  Patience makes room for the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Impatient people are missing out on the true work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
30.  One last thing about waiting on Isaac
Sometimes we don’t wait.  We settle for Ishmael.  When you do...because you will or you already have…Know that there is grace.  Abundant and sufficient Grace!  God’s grace was sufficient for Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael.  And if you’ve acted out of impatience His grace will be sufficient for you too.  The door to experience God’s grace in light of our impatience was opened through the Cross.  God desires his will be done.  By his grace He does His will even in spite of the interruption of our will.  Abraham settled for Ishmael, but God forgave him, and still gave him Isaac.  He’ll do the same for you too.  That’s one of the things that is so amazing about Grace.
Be patient. Trust God’s promise, trust God’s timing, and trust God’s way of doing things. 
Wait for Isaac and don’t settle for Ishmael.