Learning to listen to the Lord is an important lesson for all of us. Otherwise, we can’t obey Him because we won’t know what He would have us do. Furthermore, we need to know God’s timing because it’s perfect, even though it may seem slow from our perspective. But if we jump ahead of God, we’ll miss the blessings He has for us.
In Genesis 12:1-3, the Lord spoke to Abraham, saying, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Like us, Abraham wasn’t perfect, but made mistakes as he walked with God. He was told to leave his family, but he brought his nephew Lot with him, which later resulted in problems causing them to separate (Gen. 13:1-13). On another occasion, Abraham jumped ahead of God (Gen. 16:1-16). Although the Lord had promised that he would have a son and his descendants would be as numerous as the stars, Abraham was getting older, and there was still no son.
After living ten years in the land of Canaan, Abraham’s wife Sarah came up with a plan to speed up God’s promise. She suggested that he have a son through her Egyptian maid, Hagar. The reason Hagar was in the household was because of a previous detour from God’s will that Abraham had taken when he moved to Egypt to escape a famine. Now he jumped ahead of God and did what Sarah suggested. However, when Hagar conceived, conflict and trouble entered the household. Through their scheming, Ishmael was born, but he was not the son God had promised.
Because of impatience and an unwillingness to wait for God, Sarah obtained a son through Hagar, but she also received many days of conflict, strife, heartache, and trials. Eventually she conceived her own son with Abraham when he was 100 years old (Gen. 21:1-5). The Lord delayed this son’s arrival for so long because He wanted them to realize that Abraham’s promised lineage would only come through a miraculous act of God.
Have you ever jumped ahead of God? There are many reasons one might feel pressured to do so. Consider these situations:
We listen to other people instead of the Lord.
We are deceived by appearances rather than making choices based on the will of God.
We become impatient and impose a time limit on the Lord.
We are afraid of failure or the possibility that we’ll miss out on something if we don’t act now. In reality, we never miss anything by obeying the Lord. He alone knows the future and can guide us in the right direction. Furthermore, He sees our weaknesses and leads us in ways that protect us and keep us from stumbling. However, God doesn’t outline His entire plan so we can see it from beginning to end, but He guides us one step at a time. Sometimes His path includes suffering, heartache, and loss, but it’s also filled with His peace, joy, and contentment.
The problem could be unbelief. Perhaps we don’t believe that God has a plan for our individual lives. But if we discount God’s will for us, then we must conclude that everything is just an accident, including the fact that we are alive. Then we can’t rely on God for anything, but must depend wholly upon ourselves and our own wisdom and strength.
We must learn to rest in God’s timing if we want to be spared the unpleasant complications that come with taking matters into our own hands. By dedicating ourselves to God’s Word and prayerfully obeying His direction, we will guard ourselves against getting ahead of God in the future.
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Getting Ahead of God,” which aired this past weekend on TV.