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“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’” (Genesis 15:1-2 ESV)
God had so much in store for Abram. He was going to change his name, and then make him the father of the nations. His descendents would be as numerous as the stars and they would be called the children of God. Abram was a major step in the process of restoring the relationship God had once shared with His people before the Fall.
Eventually from Abram’s seed would be born Jesus, the Messiah, who would fulfill that process. God had chosen Abram for all of this. But, Abram could look no further than his own wish to be a father. He said to God, “If you can’t grant me my heart’s desire then I don’t want anything else.”
Sound familiar? Is there something you have been fervently praying for which God has yet to give you? Are you so concentrating on getting that one thing that you are missing the big picture He offers? If so, then you may fall into the same trap Abram did. He tried to intervene with his servant Hagar and usher things along. “God said I could be a father. I’ll just help Him out by doing it my way. Surely He will bless that. I’m doing His will, right?” The result was Ishmael, not Isaac. Arabs and Jews have been in conflict ever since. They are still battling over God’s favor and promised land.
Too often we hear a message we know is from God—in a dream, in a sermon, in a hymn, from a friend—that seems to be an answer to prayer. We take it as a resounding “Yes”, then dash off to grab it without waiting for the instructions of how to obtain it God’s way. There may be steps He wants us to go through for our own good. But we jump the gun, then wonder why it turns out wrong. “But, God, I was so sure. . . .”
Or, like Abram, we are so bent on receiving that one thing, we miss out on all He is trying to give us along the way. We’ve squinted our eyes so tight in wishing we don’t see His presence in our lives and the little blessings He provides. Like a pouty child near Christmas we whine, “If you love me, really love me, you’ll give me this.” We miss the small ways He shows His love to us all the time.
We ask, “What will you give me?” instead of “Thank you for loving me so much to give me _________. You fill in the blanks. Think of the blessings starting with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and ending with the last breath you just exhaled. Daunting exercise, isn’t it? If you can only come up with two or three, pray for God to reveal more to you. Then trust He will. It may take a while, they are so numerous.
Perhaps if we all concentrated more on His grace and mercy, and were thankful for what He has already bestowed upon us, then we’d be a step closer to receiving not so much what we desire, but what He desires for us, which is far better. And along the way, we just might get our “Isaac”—that which we so desperately wanted. Then, like Abram, even if God asks us to give it back to Him, we will have the faith to say, “Yes, Lord. Thy will be done. I trust in Your love and promise.”
Questions: What are you asking God for right now? Do you think you should also ask Him what He wants for you?