How to Get God to Leave You Alone!

You can't, really. He sustains your every breath.

The Bible reminds us that God knows when even the tiniest sparrow falls to the ground and the exact number of hairs on our heads at any given second.

His upholding of creation is remarkably intimate without being intrusive.

Nevertheless, at various times and seasons in our lives, God will actively engage us in order to give us an opportunity to enter a unique relationship with Him that is permanent, and one that increases our capacity to receive His grace and goodness.

So you can't make God ever 'go away'; yet, when He's working in your life and things get a little frustrating and uncomfortable, there is a way to get Him to leave you alone.

Abram (Abraham) did it. He got God to back off for fourteen years!

In Genesis 12, God introduced Himself personally to Abram and told him that He would make him into a great nation. Instructed to come up out of his father's house in pagan Ur without a large household, Abram nevertheless brought along his father and nephew (and all their servants).

On the way, Abram stopped in Haran and stayed quite some time...probably because it was an important center for worship of the moon gods and his father's livelihood was crafting idols.  Only after Terah died did Abram move on.

Regardless, God so blessed the nomadic family that Abram and nephew Lot eventually had to go their separate ways. Bound by tribal duty, Abram later had to rescue Lot from captivity when his new home was attacked.

Although Abram disobeyed and came out of Ur with excess family baggage that put him on a delay to God's promises and exposed him to unnecessary dangers, God remained patient.

Abram once fled to Egypt for help during a famine rather than trusting God. Upon arrival Abram boldly lied to Pharaoh and said his wife was his sister so he wouldn't be killed. God turned that messy situation around! (Sarai was his half sister, but the man's heart motivation is what's important here.)

Down the road, God spoke to Abram once more and reminded him of the earlier promise. He and Sarai were still childless, so Abram assumed God was referring to the descendants who could legally bear Abram's name through his servant, Eliezer. God quickly corrected Abram and let him know a child would come forth from his own loins!

Afterwards, Abram and Sarai were analyzing the situation.  More years passed. They'd been together but still no children; yet, God said a child would come forth from Abram's own seed!

Then a light went off in Sarai's head!  That maid you picked up for me while we were in Egypt--Hagar--that's how!  In those days, not only could a male servant and his descendants legally bear the name of the childless patriarch, but maid servants were surrogate mothers for barren wives.

Abram bought into the plan and at the age of 86, he became a father for the first time. The boy's name was Ishmael.

Well, except for the growing jealousy between Sarai and Hagar, Abram was fulfilled. God's promise had arrived. In his old age he brought forth a son that God could use to bless the whole world.  Right?

Not quite.

Genesis 16 ends with the happy birth of Ishmael. Genesis chapter 17 picks up FOURTEEN years later! What a puzzling gap of no recorded dialogue, no interaction between God and His chosen man.

It's obvious that Abram and Sarai figured out a way to make God's word work on their own, so God backed out and left them to their devices.

The couple were so happy with their little Ishmael that it appears they didn't even notice God was no longer talking to them. They didn’t seem to mind that God no longer came to call.

Yes, we can 'silence' God's voice--for a season.  But His extravagant, radical love compels Him to move in our direction again, just as He did with Abram and Sarai.

At the age of 99, Genesis 17 tells us that Abram received an overdue divine visit.

God said, "I AM Almighty God: walk before Me and be blameless…" He meant business with the old man...perhaps this was going to be His last approach. He changed their names to Abraham and Sarah, cleaning the slate and bringing them into a new relationship with Him marked by an outward sign--circumcision. Circumcision is a "cutting away of excess (unprofitable) flesh where we reproduce".

This time, the Lord was very specific that Abraham's child of promise was going to be given to him by Sarah!  Still, Abram didn’t get it. "Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!"

"No! (said God) "..Sarah your WIFE shall bear you a son and you shall call his name Isaac."

Well, Isaac was finally born--true to God's promise. By the time he was weaned, however, the jealousy between Hagar and Sarah had spilled over into the teenage Ishmael, who continually scoffed and made fun of God's promise--little Isaac.

Hesitatingly, Abraham followed his wife's advice (which was THIS TIME confirmed by God) and sent Hagar and Ishmael packing.

If I had to choose a theme song for Abe and Sarah, I think Frank Sinatra's "I Did It My Way" is ideal.

Abram knew the will of God, but when faced with frustrating delays and a God who appeared to have forgotten, he took the reins to rescue his and God's reputation. (I'm sure he had told his household and neighboring tribes about his divine encounter and resulting promise.)

Conveniently, the couple looked around and saw just the thing from Egypt that could help them--beautiful Hagar. Every time we go to "Egypt' (a type of the world) for help, something will follow us that's itching to get us into trouble! 

Why did Sarah send both Hagar AND Ishmael away?  Why not the boy alone?  Because Hagar could produce another child and by what is implied in the Scriptures, Abraham was quite taken with the maid. More Ishmaels? Please! Children (and the consequences of disobedience) are expensive to raise!

All of us can attest to birthing 'Ishmaels'--things we've brought to life in our own strength out of the will of such things have wreaked havoc in our lives and in those around us at tremendous costs.

Ishmaels are not that easy to get rid of, either. They linger in the earth.  And long after they're gone, their way of life and its consequences intensify through the generations.

Remember the circumcision of Abraham? God now 'cuts' the heart of the believer in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit...taking away the excess and unprofitable that could be the seedbed for birthing things that are not of God!  Baptism is now the New Covenant's outward sign of this inward work of God.

By the way, do you know what happened to Ishmael's descendants? They were divided into 12 tribes. These desert people lived in tents and traveled around in large caravans.

Although rich in cattle, a great portion of their wealth was obtained by lawless activity. They harassed Israel for many years until subdued for a time by Gideon, but lasting peace was always fleeting. The tribes have all been assimilated into what we know today as the Arab nations, which are predominately Islamic.

 "And he (Ishmael) will be a wild man (Hebrew meaning: 'running like a wild ass'); his hand will be against EVERY man, and EVERY man's hand against him…" Genesis 16:12.

The lesson:

1) Bring no excess baggage into the will of God; it will cost you precious time and expose you to unexpected trouble.

2) Don't go to Egypt for help; stay the course to avoid a detour.  You'll come back with a souvenir you'll later regret.

3) God's delays are not God's denials! Leave the WAY (the how's and when's) up to Him. Hum a few bars of "Trust and Obey" instead.

4) Are you mistaking happiness and fulfilled desires for the will of God? 

When was the last time you honestly felt God speaking to your heart?  Are you listening? Are you substituting church acitivites for your personal time with God?

How many times have you used your own mind, talents, strengths, know-how, etc. to get a desired result without seeking God's counsel?

If you've made a mistake, quickly repent and remove the source of the sin from your life, no matter how attached you've become to it. For some, this may mean changing friendships, jobs, entertainment choices--even churches.. Don't be fooled. Sin's womb is very fertile, but births nothing but wild asses!

You see, once a divine promise comes to life it cannot peacefully co-exist alongside that which is birthed out of carnality. Double-mindedness must go. You've got to choose between God's best for your life or the results of your own way.

We're all familiar with the second test Abraham faced on the mountain, as he willingly gave his promised son to the Lord. He was an Old Testament type of Father God who, two thousand years later, willingly offered His only Son to be sacrificed on Mount Calvary (it happened along the same mountain range where Abraham bound Isaac to the altar!).

Most of us still struggle to separate ourselves from that which is not of God. Yet, there is a higher sacrifice-one to which we can mature into just like Abraham-a sacrifice of that which IS of God!

Abram began as a servant who became Abraham, a son of the covenant.

But when we return every God-sent child, marriage, possession, ministry, and talent back to God, willing to let it go rather than lose Him, we become something else:

"..and he (Abraham) was called the FRIEND of God." (James 2:23)

God has a large household of servants and some sons…but very few friends.

Which are you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well written and thought out Diane.