He works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. Ephesians 1:11
For years I’ve been afraid of bringing forth an Ishmael. You remember who Ishmael was, he was the son of Abram through his wife’s servant. Sarai, Abrams’ wife had reasoned that perhaps she could build a family through her servant, so she made this suggestion to her husband and he went along with it (Genesis 16). God had promised Abram at the age of seventy five that he would give him a son (Genesis 15:4-5), so years later Sarai assumed that God was withholding children from her. Considering that by this time Sarai was at least in her sixties, I would say that many of us would also make the same assumption.
However God reappeared to Abram and indicated that the promise was not through Ishmael but a son to be born to Sarai (Genesis 17:15-19). Eventually the son born to the servant was sent away along with his mother (Genesis 21:8-20). It was an unfortunate situation. In an effort to obtain fulfillment in a longing of the heart, Sarai orchestrated the birth of Ishmael and after some turbulence caused by the very thing Sarai had planned, a son was sent away from his father.
Many years I’ve considered this, we know the moral of this example. We must not try to fulfill God’s promises through human means and reasoning. However the weight that I found myself carrying was that if I did do this, I could inadvertently affect my family. If I make a mistake in a decision, I might bring forth an Ishmael. If I made my own plans and followed them, I might be putting us in a bad spot. What was intended to be a lesson on trusting God, seeking His direction and waiting on Him, instead turned into to fear of making the wrong move. But God didn’t give us spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). When fear is present, there is definitely no soundness of mind.
I realized that this fear was not what God wanted from me. I believe He showed me a few things about Sarai’s situation that helped.
- Sarai assumed that God was withholding children from her (Genesis 16:1-4).
We find later that this assumption was a wrong one. God did want her to bring forth a child and He wanted it to happen to His glory. A child being born to a seventy five year old woman is definitely an occurrence to be attributed to be God’s miraculous power and His plan.
- Sarai reasoned that maybe she could build a family through her servant.
This was definitely a possible solution as this was apparently a custom in those days. Jacob had quite a few children through his wives’ servants and it appears this was all apart of God’s plans. However in this case, seeking God was in order for Sarai. Rather than making what appeared to be an obvious assumption, going to God in prayer, Sarai might have been directed by God not to go ahead with her plans. She might have been instructed to wait.
These two points brought forth relief because I know that as I seek God and my intentions are to do His Will, I can experience the freedom of making decisions and choices without fear of making a mistake. Even if I get it wrong in what I believe Him to be directing me to do, I have still wholeheartedly sought Him. I can be content in knowing that He “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). And one more thing that I also know, He has always been faithful to confirm His Word to me, so I don’t have to be afraid of a wrong decision. So what I’ve learned, I now say to you: Don’t Fear Bringing Forth an Ishmael.
Father in Heaven, Thank You for the revelation of Your Word. Thank You that as we seek You and turn our hearts to do Your will, You will direct our steps. Thank You for your mercy and Your grace. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Nicole C. Calhoun