Well, the truth is sometimes He does want my participation and sometimes He prefers to go solo. It is up to me to stay before His throne in prayer so I can hear which path to take - or not. The real question is, am I willing to have faith and wait on God and experience His perfect will? Or, would I rather just do something on my own and only experience His permissive will?
Need an example?
"Now Sarai, Abram's wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, 'Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.' And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai." (Genesis 16:1, 2 NASB)
If you are unfamiliar with this story or you haven't read it in a while I suggest you read Genesis chapter 15 and 16 for context - and it's just good reading. In a nutshell, God promised Abram that he would have a son and countless descendants to make a nation in the promised land God showed him. After he and Sarai had waited about 10 years and still no son, they decided they were supposed to take matters into their own hands. They would utilize a surrogate - get Sarai's maid to have the child for them.
Before we get into the story, let's deal with the custom of the day. In those times, if a woman was barren (unable to conceive) and she had a maidservant or slave, she could have children "through" that maidservant. When the mistress gave her servant to her husband, with the intent of having offspring and the servant became pregnant, the child was considered to belong to the mistress, not to the servant.
To further solidify it, when it was time to give birth, the mistress was a very active participant. Giving birth was often done squatting or on a birthing stool (this is still sometimes used in alternative birthing practices and in other cultures). So, the mistress would position herself under the servant, as if she were the stool. As the servant gave birth and the baby exited the mother, it would "pass through" the mistress as if she gave birth to the child herself and signified that the baby was indeed hers. This is the practice Sarai intended on utilizing.
Imagine for a moment how Hagar must have felt initially to be handed over to have sex with an 85/86 year old man who was her "boss" and who probably didn't care about her beyond that. Then she was supposed to endure 9 months of pregnancy and go through labor only to have to give the child up to her bosses and serve the child as if her DNA was not coursing through the baby's veins? All I can say is I'm glad God called me to be Kyra in the 21st century and not Hagar in ancient times!
As you can imagine, custom or no custom, things went wrong rapidly. When Hagar realized she was able to conceive she looked at Sarai with contempt (because she understood it was Sarai's issue that made her unable to have children, not Abram). Sarai in turn became very, very mean. Sarai did not behave as though she had any religion at all, let alone serving the one true God! She made Hagar's life so miserable, Hagar decided to run away to the desert to try faring for herself there! Can you picture yourself wandering around the desert with no provisions? Now picture doing this pregnant ... When I was pregnant, I didn't want to wander around in the Houston heat and humidity apart from getting in and out of my car, let alone the thought of a desert!
God came to Hagar's rescue and she went back to her bosses and gave birth to Abram's son, Ishmael. Now, notice I said to Abram, not Sarai. The Bible doesn't say this explicitly, but it appears as if Sarai changed her mind about claiming Hagar's child as her own. As a matter of fact scripture shows that eventually Sarai sends them both away for good! So, my question is: Why did Sarai bother to go through all of that and still end up without a child?
Because she took things into her own hands and God allowed her and Abram to do so. It was not God's perfect will, but He permitted it to happen.
Haven't you been there? I certainly have. I assumed some things, took other things for granted, and acted on circumstances on my own and in my own time frame. God allowed them to happen, but it wasn't His perfect will for my life. I may never know how they were supposed to really turn out because some of the decisions I made really messed things up. In these trying times, I am reminded of those decisions and the consequences I had to suffer as a result of those decisions. It helps me to wait for God's perfect will - not my own half stellar, counterfeit will.
Thankfully for Abram and Sarai, eventually things turned out okay for them. Fourteen years after they took matters into their own hands, Sarai gave birth to her own son Isaac - no help from a surrogate servant this time. This was God's perfect will.
I wonder if Ishmael hadn't been born would God have made Abram and Sarai wait a full 25 years before they had their own son? Because they took matters into their own hands, we'll never know. And that's a good enough deterrent for me. Why make myself wait even longer, or not see the promise at all because I have become impatient and willing to only experience my attempts instead of waiting for God's best?
I want God's best my friends, and I'm sure you do too. I want His best for every aspect of my life. From which endeavor or ministry opportunity to persue, to which conference I should attend. From which investment I should make to where I should make a purchase. From who should just be an associate to whom I can trust to be a confidant.
Perhaps reflecting on your own story will help you to just be patient as well. Not take matters into your own hands as Sarai and Abram did. If we look back over our lives and see how we settled for His permissive will instead of His perfect will, I'm sure it will cause us to crave His very best for our lives. I don't - we don't know what's best for us. So, let's run with patience this race that is set before us and choose to have faith in God's best - His perfect will for our lives.
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3 NASB)
Just Around the Corner,