There is a desire in your heart. It’s been there for a while. Too long, if you’re honest.
It’s a hope for a godly marriage, a yearning to belong somewhere or a passion for God to use you in a unique way. God has promised the impossible, but you’ve grown weary in the waiting. You are ever questioning life’s little details. Is this it, God? Is this where You’re leading me?
In Genesis 15, God promised the impossible to a childless and very old Abraham: He and his wife, Sarah, would have a son through whom a nation would come. He believed the Lord and was declared righteous because of his faith. Thirteen years later, things were a little different. Abraham did have a son, but not as God promised. Ishmael had been born, not to Abraham and Sarah, but instead to Abraham and Sarah’s servant, Hagar. Sarah was still barren.
Abraham surveyed the situation and reasoned based on what his human eyes could see. He presumed his legacy would be seen through Ishmael because no other children had been born. Didn’t that mean that Ishmael was the promise God intended?
God appeared to Abraham a second time in chapter 17 to confirm His covenant of a son. At 100 years old, Abraham doubted he would have more children. “Yes,” he said in verse 18, “may Ishmael enjoy Your special blessing!”
But God quickly clarified: “Sarah, your wife, will bear you a son. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm My everlasting covenant with him and his descendants. As for Ishmael, I will bless him also, just as you have asked … but My covenant is with Isaac.”
If you find yourself in a similar situation of delayed promise, let me encourage you to stand firm.
Don’t let your limited sight and expectations limit God. Abraham thought Ishmael must be the promise because that future was all he could see. He believed God’s word but didn’t wait for God to perform it. Instead, he took matters into his own hands. In Exodus 20:24, God says, “Build altars in the places where I remind you who I am, and I will come and bless you there.” How often do we build altars, not in the place God is, but in the place we want Him to be? We establish our own destiny. We build our own kingdom because we want our own way. We pray for God to bless the work of our hands because we tire of waiting for His hand to move.
Be cautious. Placing our wants over God’s word will trip us up every time. And, let’s face it, never in all our striving could we build a life as great as the one He builds.
Abraham was willing to settle for Ishmael even though Isaac was on the way. God blessed Ishmael simply because Abraham asked; however, He also said Ishmael’s life would be difficult. You see, no matter how much God blessed him, it didn’t make him Isaac, and God’s covenant with Abraham was through Isaac.
If you create, follow and settle for your Ishmael — a relationship, a career, a ministry — life may be good, even blessed, but it won’t be what God intended. My first husband was my Ishmael. He was my impatient attempt to bring about the promise of God in my life. Despite some blessings here and there, that marriage was a miserable existence. My current and forever husband … he’s my Isaac. Can I just tell you that the Isaac God has for you is so much more amazing than you can even fathom? Speak words of blessing over your Isaac and be willing to wait!
God always points us to His promise. Many stories in the Bible tell of great men of God who wrestled with doubt and discouragement. God didn’t typically respond to or even acknowledge their words of despair. He simply spoke His promise to them again and again. God’s word is life, and that’s what He speaks. He doesn’t participate in our pity parties.
Does He hurt with us and comfort us? Yes! Does He want us to speak more of our impossible than His possible? Absolutely not! He seeks to elevate our thoughts to His thoughts. When we say what God says instead of listening to what our eyes see, the words of God become the louder voice.
There is a covenant within you that God longs to birth, but you’ve grown impatient. You’ve born an Ishmael in the place your Isaac is destined to live. God may bless your endeavor, but His covenant is with your dream. Oh, what He will do if you will trust the promise and step into the unknown, the unfamiliar, the uncomfortable places.
Please don’t settle. Don’t sacrifice your someday dream for a right-now counterfeit. The promises of God are not “we’ll see” and “maybe,” they are “yes” and “amen.” He is calling you to something better than Ishmael can offer.
I love that God doesn’t chide us for our disbelief, our wavering or our Ishmaels. He sees greatness in us, promises the amazing and lavishes His grace upon us.
Impossible? Never. God doesn’t acknowledge the impossible. After all, impossible doesn’t live in His world.