It’s easy to tell someone waiting on God to just be patient. Hold on a little longer. Wait. Most often that advice comes from people who aren’t waiting.
They don’t know.
They aren’t walking in your shoes. They aren’t living in the wait.
Well guess what, sister? I’m living in the wait with you, and I’m saying let’s keep waiting.
Yesterday marked two years since we moved from our last home. Our home state. Our hometown. Our home life. We moved from the place where we loved well, worshipped well, and lived well. We left our friends. Our dance studio where not only LM danced, but I took three hours a week for myself to exercise mind and body. We left friends who would gather and laugh and pray and encircle. We left our church families, our support system, our fur baby. We followed God to the place where we are and we’re still waiting for those things that we had to be restored.
A support system.
The feeling that you belong.
From the outside looking in, you can look and say “Get over it already. Just acclimate, would you?” And for the most part, we have. But we’re still renting a home, in a temporary town, waiting for permanence. A permanent house. A permanent school decision for LH.
Things are slowly, slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y falling into place, and we take small miracles where we can. But here’s why I’m saying we need to wait. You and I. We.
Because when we take our destiny out of God’s hands and into our own, He lets us have it.
Yep, you heard me. When we say, “I’ll take this, thank you very much,” He says, “Ok, if you say so!”
Hello, Eve. Dear sister, Eve. Thanks for changing the destiny of all humanity when you had to be the queen of your own destiny. Genesis 3 says,
The serpent was clever, more clever than any wild animal God had made. He spoke to the Woman: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?”
The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’”
The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”
When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.
Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.
So there they are – the first two people who ever took destiny into their own hands, officially getting themselves booted out of Eden, forcing Adam into labor, and gifting all women with a painful birth process. (Really, Eve? You couldn’t have just been happy wandering around the garden commando, talking with animals, Adam, and God every day?)
And then there’s Moses. I love Big Mo. I have clung to the Exodus story often, for encouragement and hope. But Big Mo took matters into his own hands too. Moses had led the people out of Egyptian slavery into the wilderness. There was no water to be seen. God said in Exodus 17,
The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded… but there was no water for the people to drink. But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”
Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Poof – Water comes gushing from the rock. God provides, bingo bango, and they continue on their way. Forty years these people will wander through the wilderness, led by Moses, provisioned by God, to the place God promised would be their own. The Promised Land. A land flowing with milk and honey. (Exodus 33) Until one day some time later…
Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”
The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”
So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Watergushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
First, Moses had a speech impediment, and he didn’t really like speaking out. In fact, when Moses went to the Pharaoh to ask for the Israelites’ freedom, he begged for his brother Aaron to speak for him instead. But in this instance, God said, “speak to the rock” and Moses did his own thing and struck the rock instead. Cause, you know, “sorta obedience” is good enough for God. (No, not really.)
Second, who is “we?”
Listen you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?
Moses isn’t the one bringing water from a rock. GOD IS BRINGING WATER FROM THE ROCK. He forgot that it isn’t by his own might that the world spins on its access, but by the hand of God.
His punishment for taking matters into his own hand?
God would not allow him to see the promised land.
The place that had been promised to generations, back to Abraham. The place that Moses had led hundreds of thousands of people through the desert for fourty years.
Could you imagine?
How disheartening for Moses, when God shared that because of one small step, one small act of pride and disobedience, he would not be able to see the thing he had been waiting for.
Third, as a leader, God expected more of Moses. If your platform involves leading people in the honor, respect, and worship of God, how can you lead halfway? How can we tell Christians that halfway obedience is ok? He couldn’t. And friends, we can’t either.
Speaking of Abraham… you know, God promised Abraham that he would make him a father of many nations. But Abraham was old, and his wife was 90 and still had not conceived a child. So Abraham? Yep, you guessed it. He couldn’t wait on God anymore.
They could just take matters into their own hands. Abraham could just sleep with Sarah’s servant, and by law at the time, that child would belong to Sarah and Abraham. That had to be what God meant, right?
So Hagar conceived, and Sarah was heartbroken and bitter and jealous, and angry. Their decision to take matters into their own hands affected not just Abraham and Sarah, but Hagar and Ishmael. Before he was even born, Sarah’s jealousy forced Hagar to leave, but the angel of the Lord asked her to go back and said,
“You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”
For 13 years, Hagar’s son Ishmael would live in front of her, a daily reminder of her barren womb. And when God reminded them that He hadn’t forgotten about Sarah, she had had enough. She’d lost hope in ever believing the dreams she’d waited 90 years to see fulfilled would ever come to fruition.
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he [God] said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
And after he was a teen and Isaac (the original son God promised to Abraham and Sarah) was born, Hagar and Ishmael were banished again.
But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”
Waiting is hard.
I’m waiting with you. But we can’t be tempted to take matters into our own hands.
It didn’t work with Eve.
It turned out horribly with Moses.
And as for Sarah and Hagar? When Abraham took matters into his own hands and bore Ishmael and later exiled them from his presence, Ishmael and Hagar settled into their own land. The “wild donkey that would live in hostility with his brothers” did just that. His descendants would leave the faith of their fathers, and the land that would later become Assyria and the Arabic nations, is the same land of Muhammed (the muslim prophet) that birthed the muslim religion fighting with Christians to this day.
Waiting is hard, friends, but seeing the alternative – the “less than” and consequences that results when we take destiny in our own hands – it is so worth it to wait for God’s best that might take a little bit longer.
Wait with me. We can do it.
Because the plan that God has, although it may take awhile to see, is far better than anything we could craft on our own.