Posted by: Terry | March 17, 2009

“I can do it myself”

“So she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said.” (Genesis 16:2 NIV)

Abram had just defeated 5 kings, met the King of Salem, resisted the offer of loot from the King of Sodom, had his faith credited to him as righteousness, killed a heifer, a ram, a goat and two birds for a sacrifice confirming the covenant, watched as the Lord passed through confirming the covenant, and again heard the voice of God; all of this in just a few days or weeks. Yet the faith and victories of yesterday do not suffice for the challenges of today.

Now Sari, his wife, is aware of what God has promised and understands the biology of children. She comes to Abram with a plan to help God with his promise. Her intentions are well meaning, the concept is standard procedure in their society, but it is not of God.

“The Lord has kept me” then “Perhaps I can build,” she says.

How quickly we jump in to help God work things out. The Lord is to blame for me not having children so I will take matters into my own hands. We trust God, but want to help him out.

“Abram agreed.” He was quick to join in with her plan, it made sense; they were in agreement. Disagreement between spouses is a caution sign that we are not on the right track, but concurrence is not a guarantee that we right.

Certainly God could have used Hagar to fulfill the promise; God has many means at his disposal. Yet opportunity alone is not assurance of God’s leading. And in this case it would lead to conflict.

We are like Abram and Sari, “God has not blessed my business (marriage, family, job, church…) so perhaps I can build (fix, repair, promote, talk to…).” The pressure is on so we need a plan, “I can do it myself.” Abram would wait 13 years longer for the promised child; with Ishmael, the child of their plan, reminding him daily that “I can do it myself” may not be God’s way.

John Stott said it so well,

It is a mistake to be in a hurry or to grow impatient with
God. It took him about 2,000 years to fulfill his promise
to Abraham in the birth of Christ. It took him eighty
years to prepare Moses for his life work. It takes him
about twenty-five years to make a mature human being. So
then, if we “have” to make a decision by a certain
deadline, we must make it. But if not, and the way forward
is still uncertain, it is wiser to wait. I think God says
to us what he said to Joseph and Mary when sending them
into Egypt with the child Jesus: ‘Stay there until I tell
you’ (Mt. 2:13). In my experience, more mistakes are made
by precipitate action than by procrastination.

–From “The Contemporary Christian” (Leicester and Downers
Grove: IVP, 1992), p. 131.


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