Abraham heard God. And even though he was almost 100 years old, he believed God when God told him he would be the father of many nations. In fact, Abraham had believed that promise for about 25 years, waited 25 years for Sarah to have his child. But there was still no child.
13 years before the event in the 17th chapter, Abraham had become a father. You remember Hagar and Ishmael. Was it a moment of weakness, a bit of disbelief, impatience, or something else that caused Abraham to take matters into his own hands? Whatever the reason, Abraham did have a son.
So when God again spoke to the 100 year old Abraham about the Promise, Abraham voiced his opinion. “Look, Lord,” he seems to say. “I believe you. You tell me I’m going to be the father of many nations, so I’m going to be the father of many nations. But let’s get real. I’m old. I don’t think I have it in me to produce a son with Sarah. Why don’t we just consider Ishmael the answer to the Promise. He’s my son, he’s here and healthy. If you bless him, we could get on with it.”
God didn’t like that idea. It was never His intention to use Ishmael to fulfill His promise to Abraham. He didn’t need Abraham’s help. And He was going to prove it.
I think it’s a fine line between being obedient to God, and going ahead of Him. Sometimes we might get impatient, or doubt. We rationalize and over-think things, then move ahead without waiting on God to move. I think that usually turns out badly.
I don’t have the magic formula to knowing how to distinguish between obeying God, and going ahead of Him. But I believe if God is calling you to do something, and if you are faithfully in His Word, praying, and being intentional about recognizing His nudge, you’ll do that thing at just the right time, in just the right way.
Is God calling you to action? Wait on Him. Trust Him. It might not happen when or like you imagine. But if you follow Him, rather than lead Him, it’s going to be incredible.