I came here to write a completely different blog post, but my bible reading this morning reminded me that God’s plans are better than my own. Today I re-read the story of Hagar in Genesis. This story took place when Abraham and Sarah were still Abram and Sarai. I could summarize but the passage is fairly short and easy to read:
16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.” 6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. 7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. 9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:
“You are now pregnant
and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,[a]
for the Lord has heard of your misery.
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[b] all his brothers.”
13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen[c] the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi[d]; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. 15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.
At the time that Sarai decided to give Hagar to Abram, he had already received a promise from God that his descendants would number the stars in the heavens. (Genesis 15:5) Abram said he trusted God and believed his promise, but as he grew older and no child came, Sarai decided to take God’s plan into her own, much less capable, hands, and Abram was fully on board with it. In doing so, they created a lot of pain and misery.
That’s what happens when we think we know better than God how to fulfill His promises. His timing is not our timing. His word is good, and you can trust Him. When you try to execute your own version of what you believe to be God’s plan, what you’re really doing is saying “I don’t trust you, God,” or possibly, “God, you don’t know how to do this, let me help you.”
My plans are stones for me to stumble on in the path that God has laid out for me to walk.
I make my plans with my limited vision. God makes His with His limitless understanding not just of me, but of everything, of all existence and time and space.
When we yank our lives out of God’s hands, He lets us. Humans are a skeptical bunch. We are “prove it to me” creatures. So God, in His mercy, allows us to try it our way. This is shown repeatedly in the bible. All you have to do is read the story of Moses and the Hebrews lost in the desert for 40 years (Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers). That wasn’t part of God’s plan for them, His plan was to lead them straight to the Promised Land and deliver it into their hands. However, the people didn’t trust God’s plan. They were afraid, and it cost them dearly. In fact, Moses himself didn’t even get to enter Canaan.
God will allow you to take the reins of your own life, even if it means disaster, because your choice is of utmost importance to Him. Without a choice, we aren’t God’s children, we are His pets.
In 1982 British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s 28 year old son Mark drove in the Paris-Dakar Rally. Before the race he was quoted as saying, “I’ve now raced in Le Mans and other things – this rally is no problem.” During the race, he and his team went missing in the Sahara desert for six days. When he wrote about the experience in 2004 he admitted he had done no preparation at all for the race.
When we submit to God’s plans for our life, He says to us, don’t worry, here’s the destination, I’ll drive. When we start to doubt those plans, when we try to take the wheel, we inevitably end up lost and wandering in the desert.