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Birthing An Ishmael

How patient can you truly be? Are you looking for quick results or are you willing to wait on God to reveal His promises to you in His own time? Let's explore this topic together in today's devotional:

“So Sarai said to Abram, ‘See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please go into my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her. And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.’” – Genesis 16:2 (NKJV)

Our last devotional was entitled “Hope Deferred” and many of you responded very well. It seems many of us know what it feels like to have our hope deferred, but thank God for Jesus who is our hope. The hope He gives, the world cannot take away!

One of the consequences that occur during the times when we feel as though our hope is deferred is that we commit proverbial “adultery with the maid” and birth our own version of “Ishmael.” Ishmael was planned by Abraham and Sarah, but he was a planned illegitimate outcome, which was born from impatience.

In Genesis 12, God comes to a businessman named Abraham and makes him a promise to take him to an unknown land full of blessings, make him into a great nation and bless many through him. Excited about the promise, Abraham obeys the Lord and leaves his country while taking his wife, a young nephew, his servants, and his possessions. Several years later, Abraham, who experienced enormous blessings from the Lord, realizes that should he die, one of his servants would have to take over the family business since he did not have any children. He goes before the Lord and asks God to bless him with a child who would be the heir of his enterprise. God not only promises him a child, but God also promises him a nation.

Unfortunately, God did not act fast enough for Abraham’s wife Sarah who, due to a lack of patience, suggested that Abraham conceive a child with her maidservant Hagar. Abraham did, and the result was Ishmael: the planned illegitimate outcome of taking things into their own hands due to a lack of patience. How many of us have files in our offices full of such “Ishmaels?” The problem with birthing Ishmaels is that you will have to live with them. You can make the choice but you cannot choose the consequences. One of my pastors used to say, “Choices are long-lasting and life-changing.” Abraham and Sarah had to live with the consequences of Ishmael, which created family issues over inheritance and favouritisms—issues that still continue today in the Middle East between Palestine and Israel. If you are considering committing adultery with an alluring new idea that promises to take you to your hopes quickly and cause you to easily avoid the trials and tests that you are facing, stop and think about the long-term devastating effect of birthing Ishmael. It will not just affect you, but it will also affect those who will come after you for generations to come.

How do you avoid birthing an Ishmael?

  1. Be willing to endure the suffering or humiliation of delayed hopes

  2. Count it all joy and rejoice in your challenges, knowing that this is the will of God concerning you

  3. Embrace the lessons that God wants to teach you during the times of waiting

  4. Do not allow others to lure you into new ideas, no matter how promising they may seem

  5. Count the cost

  6. Trust that God is faithful

  7. Keep your eyes on the prize: Jesus—He is your hope and will never defer His promises

We relocated to Portland in December of 2009 and joined a local church that was not just committed to marketplace ministry but demonstrated this commitment with the fact that services were held within a hotel that it owned and operated. The pastor/founder of the ministry, a great friend and author of a book called Mission-Based Entrepreneur Revolution had the vision to take this model across the nation and the world.

Five months after we arrived in Oregon, a fire destroyed the sanctuary portion of the hotel where our church met for worship services. Within that same week, due to circumstances beyond the church’s control, the hotel facility was sold to a non-Christian company. These circumstances caused many within the congregation to become perplexed. What happened to the dream we had and what would be of our vision?

What made me proud to be a part of this congregation and the leadership team of this church was the heart of the people. My friend and Senior Pastor of the church boldly declared that we would not quit nor stop, neither would we birth an Ishmael during this difficult period. Instead, we would patiently seek the Lord, regroup and more than ever, commit ourselves to build a model of a sustainable strategy that funds social justice and educates others around the nation and the world on how to do the same.

It is easy to quit when our hope is deferred. It is even easier to birth an Ishmael because Ishmaels make us feel as though we have accomplished something, even if it is an illegitimate outcome. Ishmaels seem to temporarily remove humiliation and disappointment, but they always bring long-term devastating effects that are irreversible.

Are you currently flirting with a project or idea that you know is not in line with God’s original vision for you? Seek the Lord for the grace to say, “No Lord, not my will, but Your will be done.”

My prayer for you today is that God will give you the wisdom to discern between His plans and your plans, and the courage to patiently pursue His plans no matter what.

Reflection: Would you repeat and create another Ismael or prefer to seek the Lord for solution that gives everlasting peace?

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Copyright © Patrice Tsague NPIM

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