“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord orders his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
God is a lifesaver! We live in a day and age where we are encouraged to follow our heart, as if, each of us intuitively know what we should do by consulting our own hearts. This is not helpful advice because Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, who can understand it?” The answer is no one but God can actually help us understand our own hearts. We are complex and simple at the same time. For this reason, I take courage from the fact that even though, my misunderstood heart, may plan my way, the creator of the universe orders my steps. There have been several times when my heart wanted to head in a certain direction but God has patiently aligned my steps with his purpose and plan for my life. Truth is, I’ve bucked against his alignment at times but in hindsight, I’ve always been grateful for where God has positioned my feet.
Read Genesis 16 for context.
Genesis 16 is the account of Sarai, Abram and Hagar. It’s got a plot line that would rival any episode of ‘Days of our lives’. Sarai and Abram have received a promise from God many, many years before but they have grown impatient and frustrated with God’s apparent memory loss of his promises to them. Due to their impatience and impetuosity, Sarai comes up with a bright idea, to help God’s promises to come to pass. She offers her husband, her very own maidservant as a wife. Just brilliant! Of course, Abe being a red-blooded, half moron male decides it’s a brilliant idea as well and ends up sleeping with Hagar and ‘kaboom’ ‘WW1 the prequal’ begins in the centre of the household. Some principles that emerge for our benefit today are:
- Don’t misinterpret delay as denial – We live in the space-time continuum, God doesn’t. He exists outside of it. His purposes are established in alignment with his timing which is, in the grand scheme of eternity, perfect. God makes everything beautiful in its time. Some promises of God come to pass quickly, some take a lot longer to come to pass and we being finite, impetuous human beings want everything the moment we conceive the idea or hear God’s word to us. When God’s promises delay we conclude that we heard wrong or that God is not interested in us anymore because we must have done something wrong. To conclude this would be to conclude wrong.
- When you misinterpret God, you try to accomplish in your own strength what can only be achieved in God’s strength. That which is born of the flesh must be sustained by the flesh. That which is born of the Spirit must be sustained by the Spirit. Too many of us are tiring ourselves out, unnecessarily, because we are pursuing things, God has never sanctioned or ordained for us. Attempting short-cuts to get close to God’s promises only ever ends up in conflict and frustration. It causes conflicts in relationships and it actually delays what God wants to do anyway.
- Cutting corners on God’s promises leads to bitterness and more pain. The ‘Hagar Highway’ only ever takes you into bitterness and more frustration. Near enough isn’t good enough. Good enough isn’t satisfactory from God’s perspective. God has plan A and he intends to bring plan A to pass. Don’t settle for short-cuts when deep down you know you are just being immature, impatient and finding it difficult to trust in God (Prov 3:5-6).
I know exactly what delay feels like, because I have lived in delay most of my ministry. Trust me, shortcuts never provide the answers you are looking for. They are simply a mirage. Instead, run to God. Ask him the hard questions, remind him of his promises. Do what he’s asking you to do right now with what he has put into your hands. Stop complaining to others and start complaining to God. The funny thing is, he can take it from you way more than you think he can. He may even give you the answer you are looking for.