"Making It Happen" That is a phrase we hear a lot these days, especially in advertising, and it usually has a positive connotation. But when Sarah and Abraham (Sarai and Abram as they were called before their names and characters were changed) after much anxious waiting and impatience decided to “make it happen” and follow their own scheme for producing the offspring that had been promised them by having Abraham mate with one of their servants, it soon spelled trouble and heartache for them. It has done the same for generations of their descendants since.
It was, after all, a fleshly solution; Ishmael was the child of the flesh’s stubborn determination and self-effort. ( Flesh is human strength and ingenuity relied upon apart from the guidance of God, but that still unconsciously depends on God for its very existence.) Still, God in His grace did not forsake them or His purpose for them, and in the right time provided them a son, as intended all along. This was Isaac, the child of promise, or we might call him the promising one, the one who held such promise that it was upon him that the nation of Israel would eventually be built, through his son Jacob’s twelve sons. Issac’s name means “laughter” and that includes an ability to laugh at ourselves and at the absurdity of our own half-baked schemes for hurrying along divine purposes. If we don’t laugh at them early, they will cause us to cry over them late.
Ishmael and Isaac were in conflict from the beginning and are still in a widening, deepening conflict today. That ought to be a sober reminder to us of the consequences of taking ourselves too seriously and trying to make something happen in our lives before its time, instead of waiting in faith for God’s perfect timing, which always proves itself superior to our own tunnel-visioned timing.
Make no mistake, this isn't to say there isn't ever a place for making something happen, especially where a lot of indecision is involved, but let's make sure we know exactly where that place is, and where it isn't!