I Did It My Way…..
We all know the story of how Abraham and his wife Sarah tried to sidestep God’s promise that they would have a child despite their old age ( Gen 16:1-16). Rather than trusting and waiting on God to fulfill His promise, these two used her maid Hagar to result in that long-awaited child only to end up with family jealousy and turmoil that still rages today through their descendants.
This initial story of a fall reminds us of a very familiar human tactic with God. We ask Him for something and then set a subconscious, unstated deadline on that request. This time limit may not be express or concrete as in a certain date, but it will at least be an openness to finding some sort of shortcut to our desired goal. We ask God to find us a mate and then go on 45 online dating sites to sift through pathetic examples of potential mates which will either lead nowhere or, worse, somewhere worse than where we are now.
Others will ask God for a job and grab a job God clearly would not want them to have. Still other folks will pray for something and then grow impatient and even bitter when the desired result does not come. I have often been guilty of this, using my supposed petition more as a purchase order than a humble request from a Creator to Whom I owe everything I have and am already. Therein lies the core problem: we should spend most of our day thanking this wonderful, generous, and loving God who invites us to trust and love Him enough to ask for more. However, our weak and defective humanity leads us to go overboard and either ask for too much or, just as bad, please-mand, which is my new word meaning demand with a please on top.
Abraham and Sarah were so wrapped up in what they wanted, what they probably felt that they deserved, that they did not stop to consider what God wanted and deserved from them: simple faith and patience. All too often, we sing Frank Sinatra’s hit My Way, proud to have handled things our way on our time and on our terms. However, is that what God deserves from us?
Close Your Human Eyes and Practice Blind Faith
As defective people moving in a defective world, we need to close our eyes from time to time and ask ourselves who or what our daily GPS is or should be. All too often, we will find that expediency and practicality often push us to find our own way on our terms without even asking God to chime in. We will fool ourselves into pretending that we are doing a very busy God a solid by handling things ourselves. After all, how sick of you would your plumber be if you called him every single time your sink was slow?
The truth is, God wants us to be assertive and independent in many ways, for that is how we will grow as human beings. However, God’s definition of those traits does not include brushing Him off like some meddling uncle. Our Lord wants us to always have Him on speed dial when we need Him. It never hurts to ask for God’s help and give God time to respond, His way. That is not to say that we will foolishly wait four decades for something we need to decide soon. What it does say is that we should give God a reasonable time to respond. That response by the way, may be no response, which may still be a response on God’s terms. Begin with the conviction that God knows what is best for us and run with that. Abraham and Sarah did not do that above; they gave God the keys and then used a brick to open things their way.
The Gideon Pill
I refer to the Gideon Pill as God’s way of showing us who is boss. He will wait beyond our patience or beneath our means to accomplish miracles, just so we know who performed those miracles. The Israelites had to wander in the desert forty years before entering the Promised Land due to their disobedience and lack of faith. God waited until there was no doubt He was doing the work for them and until He had stamped out the last of the disobedient doubters (Num 14: 1-21).
One of my favorite Bible stories is that of Gideon; a military leader, judge, and prophet chosen by God to defeat the Midianites and avoid slavery for his people. God reduced Gideon’s army to 300 men against a vast enemy in order to leave no doubt who was responsible for the victory( Judg 7:2-8). We all need the Gideon Pill from time to time, being put in situations where seemingly God is the only way out just so we can grow in faith, appreciation, and obedience to such a wonderful God.
An even more famous story than those noted above is Abraham’s great response of obedience to God’s request that Abraham sacrifice his only son Isaac ( Gen 22: 16-18). God knew how much Abraham waited for and loved his son, so He put Abraham to the test of sacrificing everything for God which, of course, Abraham passed with flying colors. Abraham had learned his lesson from the Hagar mistake. He knew that loving and trusting God is not something you dip your toe in. You are either all in or you should get out. Nothing of this world is worth losing God.
This world tells us to show off and prove we can handle everything ourselves. Certainly, one of the signs of maturity is the greater ability to be independent and self-reliant. However, regardless of our age, we all need God at all times and need to remember that. Like Abraham and Sarah, we sometimes think we know all the answer but, like Gideon, we all learn soon enough that God is pulling all the strings one way or the other.
This world tempts us to run everything in our lives our way, on our time, on our terms. What we need to avoid, however, is that we are not running away from God in the process.
2019 Gabriel Garnica