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.
Psalm 139:13-16 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mothers womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, everyone of the them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
Today is my 33rd birthday. 33 years ago I was born and my journey of purpose began. I am a year older and hopefully more in alignment with my call than ever before. Some people mistake age for maturity but unfortunately some people live the same experience 50 years in a row and never grow from their life experiences.
I encourage you today to not just watch the years come and go but to seize each moment as another opportunity to grow in the call of God on your life. All of us ask ourselves questions around our life purpose. Questions like, why do I exist? What is my purpose for being born? Who am I and where do I fit in the world? These are all important questions that are common to everyone. Even though you might not have the answers to these questions yet, keep pursuing them in partnership with God’s Spirit because he is your creator and the only person who can truly help you uncover the mystery to your life.
Discovering your call is an intersection of a few key things:
- Burden – What is it that you have a burden for? Every call of God is accompanied by a burden. A burden is what you are ultimately passionate about. A burden is a holy discontent that you have to do something about. A burden wakes you up and gets you going in the morning and keeps you thinking late into the night. Discovering your burden requires being still long enough to ask some very deep and personal questions of God and your own heart and waiting patiently for the answer.
- Gifting – What is that comes easily to you more than anything else? We are all gifted at something and we all have been given a special ability from God to contribute to the world around us. Your gift is a revelation of God to the world. Your gift makes room for you and is a source of provision in your life. Your gift is for the benefit of others and not purely for your own advancement.
- God – What has God already revealed to you about your call? God speaks through prophecy, rhema words of inspiration, Scriptures, circumstances, dreams and visions, words of knowledge and an inner witness of the Spirit in your heart. We should never pursue our call separate to a personal relationship with God. As we walk with God, God reveals more and more to us about our identity and value in him.
- Opportunities – What have people asked you to do recently? What opportunities have come you way in the past? What opportunities would you like to be available to you? Your hopes, dreams and aspirations are all potential opportunities in your future. The little opportunities before you right now are the stepping stones to the big things on your heart for the future.
- Environment – Your current environment is adding value to you or sucking life from you. Everyone of us are called to a place where we can contribute meaningfully to. What is the place of your call? Nehemiah was called to rebuild the broken down walls of Jerusalem and Paul was called to be a witness in Jerusalem thousands of years later. Calling is intended for a specific place. Your church, workplace and home are significant places where your calling is to be expressed.
- People – Who has God partnered you up with? Who is in your life right now that is helping you walk in the call and who is in your life that is hindering your call? God has got a dot to dot plan for your relationships. Take responsibility for the relational spaces in your life and look for Kingdom connections.
- Timing – God has a divine window of opportunity for all of us. It’s important to know that there is a time for every season and matter under heaven. God makes everything beautiful in its time. Don’t run ahead of God but don’t lag behind either. God’s timing is perfect and as you walk in step with the Holy Spirit, he will prompt your heart to pursue certain things in certain seasons.