Do you ever find yourself wanting to rush to the next season of your life? It is hard to rest and be content in the place that we find ourselves. The world tells us if only we had different weather, life would be better. So they sell lots of vacations to beaches or to ski resorts depending on what type of weather a person is trying to escape. Often times we rush around moving on to the next thing without slowing down to soak in the moment that we are experiencing. I definitely relate to this. With six children, life is busy! I seem to always be rushing to get things done – rushing through life trying to get to the next thing. I rush my day along: “Lets get done with breakfast so we can start school.” and then: “Hurry up and finish what you’re working on so we can have lunch!” “You need to finish lunch so we can finish school!””Go play so I can get supper done.” Then we rush through supper so that we can have some family time and then rush off to bed!!! I want to hurry up and finish the school year so we can enjoy leisurly summer days . . . but then in the summer I’m sure that I will want to rush through that too because there will be an empty promise that getting to the next season will make life better!
As Christians, we do the same thing. We come to Christ, asking Him what He wants us to do. When He shows us something, we try to make it happen as fast as we can. Kevin and I moved up to Chicago following the plan that God set before us. It took much longer to get the family moved up than we had anticipated. I believe that it was just what we needed in order to grow and fulfill the purpose God has in our lives. Our goal is for Kevin to get his PhD in Old Testament Hebrew, and we thought we should get busy accomplishing that so we could move forward with doing God’s will. What we are finding is that God’s timetable is different than ours. Kevin has been out of school for more than six years. That coupled with the reality that Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is much more thorough in their languages studies than the program Kevin studied in previously has shown us that getting into the program is going to take longer than we had originally thought. Kevin has been accepted to the school, but he was unable to pass the Hebrew proficiency exam. He will have to take some classes to learn the Hebrew more thoroughly before he can begin studying toward his degree. Understanding all of this has been disappointing. Our limited perspective causes us to think we have messed up or at the least, we are falling behind. We think we should have already accomplished so much. That is the world’s thinking creeping into our lives. God still has a plan.
I’ve been reading through Genesis again, and it has been just what I needed for this time in my life. There are so many instances in the Bible where people heard from God and began to follow Him only to find that things aren’t going to happen on the timetable that they thought. Genesis 12:1-3 says:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
Abram obeyed right away! I’m sure that he thought God was going to give him many children, and he probably thought he and Sarai would begin having them right away. They were up in years already, so they didn’t have time to loose! Ten years passed, and still Abram and Sarai had no son. Sarai became impatient, and in Genesis 16:2 we see her solution to the problem.
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.
Abram and Sarai took matters into their own hands and had a son through Hagar. This was not God’s plan, and it caused lots of heartache for Sarai and Abram. But, they thought they had obtained a son to fulfill God’s promise. Then, 13 years later, God appeared to Abram again. In Genesis 17:15-21 God shows Abram His plan.
And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”
Abraham was shocked to learn that Ishmael was not the son who would fulfill the promise that God had made. God unfolded His plan at just the right time. Nothing Abraham or Sarah did could speed it up or change it. Think of their delight and faith in God when they saw the promise fulfilled at Isaac’s birth (Genesis 21)! God uses unlikely circumstances to show us that He is the One doing the work. We cannot take credit for His work. It is impossible for us to do His will without His hand working through us.
After reading all of this and pondering it’s application to me today, I cannot give up because God’s plan hasn’t unfolded the way I thought it would. I cannot rush the plan either. I just have to rest in Him and remain obedient to what He has put before me to do today. God’s plan for my family and I will unfold at the right time. He alone knows what the future holds. Until then, I pray that God will strengthen our faith and help us to be faithful to Him.
May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.