Joyce Meyer recently spoke about submitting to God's timeline. She shared a situation in which she REALLY wanted to accomplish something in her life, but was frustrated because it wasn't happening right away. A 'shortcut' opportunity presented itself, and she had to determine whether to promote herself or wait for God's promotion. Would she take matters into her own hands and make it happen (as the world often advises), or would she walk by faith even when that meant staying in a holding pattern for an indeterminate amount of time?
Her comment: There will always be an Ishmael opportunity in your life before there's an Isaac.*
I've found that to be so true in both my professional and personal life. I have birthed more than a few Ishamaels in my life because I just didn't see how (or when) God could ever bring an Isaac. And true to His character, God always showed up afterward, right on time, leaving me feeling ashamed and disappointed that I couldn't wait for His best.
The Lord placed Joyce's statement in my heart the other day when I was venting to Him about a longstanding interpersonal problem that needed to be corrected. I wanted to confront the person and force a solution; but after praying, it was pretty clear that I'd be creating an Ishmael. Amazingly, the person came to ME only two days later and addressed 90% of the issues that had been burdening me. The result was so much better than if I had brought the problem up myself.
Wow. Life is so much better when we stop forcing things to happen the way we want them to. There is true freedom in waiting on God and trusting that His plan is the better one.
"Therefore, the promise comes by faith... [Abraham] is our father in the sight of God, in whom He believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls those things which are not, as though they are." (Romans 4:16-17)
* Sarah and Abraham did not believe God's promise that she would bear a child, since they were both nearly a hundred years old. They grew tired of waiting, and Abraham eventually had a son named Ishmael--by Sarah's maidservant. The jealousy and contention that followed nearly destroyed them all. Ten years after God made His promise, He brought it to fruition. Sarah did conceive, and her miracle child Isaac was born. If only they had waited in faith instead of trying to 'help' God and rush His plan.