I’ve been reading through some of Genesis lately, starting where the Lord cut the covenant with Abram. There, He reminded me of something so important for those of us who are waiting on His words over our lives to come to pass. If you want to read along, check out Genesis 15.
Abram had just arrived in the land of Canaan, the land the Lord promised to give him and his descendants forever. The funny thing about that promise was that Abram had zero descendants at the time the promise was made and he was no spring chicken! He was almost 80. This is the moment in Scripture where the land of Canaan became the “Promised Land” (Genesis 13).
Years before any of Abram’s descendants ever existed, the Lord marked it for them. Over the course of the next several hundred years, Israel would be moved out of that land, put into slavery for 400 years, delivered from that slavery, return to the land of Canaan, uproot all its inhabitants, and settle in it as the Promised Land. What a ride. The Lord is faithful to keep His promises.
In chapter 15, the Lord is preparing to cut covenant with Abram. “The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision…” The first thing to note is this: Abram received a clear word from God. The Lord told Abram, an old childless man, that his descendants would outnumber the stars. This promise seemed opposite of Abram’s natural reality (well, because it was). Look at Abram’s response to that massive word. His response is the same one we are called to have when the word of the Lord comes to us. “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness” (v. 6, NIV).
When the Lord directly speaks a word to us, we have two choices: question it or believe it and grab it with both hands. What makes the difference in how we respond is what we focus on when the word is given. Do we focus on the “what” that was spoken or the “who” that said it? If we let the “what” take precedence, words can feel “too big.” When we focus ourselves on the “who” that spoke the word, we can be confident, no matter how massive the word is, that it’s as good as done.
The Lord lives in the cosmic-sized miraculous. Acknowledging that the Creator of the universe has just given you a promise makes even the most immense words seem easy. He cannot lie, and He is always faithful. Abram knew this by faith, and he grabbed His promise.
Have you ever had a word from God over your life like that? One that seemed massively opposite to your present circumstance? How did you respond? For me, over the last few years, one of those big words has been “Mother.” In the natural, my circumstances say I may never be a mama, but the Lord has repeatedly spoken the word “Mother” over me going on 4 years now between 3 miscarriages.
When circumstances say it can’t happen, faith and hope say, “Watch what my Father is about to do.” Our response to the word of the Lord in our life shows our level of trust in Him and our value for His word. As we “walk by faith and not by sight,” faith illuminates our path to show us where to place our feet. My feet are being planted on a path to motherhood. I refuse to step off that path because I know what Father has repeatedly spoken to me in the secret place. If you have a promise from the Lord, grab it and don’t let it go. Remember who it is that spoke it to you. Give it the honor it deserves.
Now let’s get to the part where the title of this post comes in. We’ve seen the back story. Abram knew that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. The Lord cut covenant on that promise.
I can imagine Abram started off confident in that word, standing firm in his belief of it. Who wouldn’t when the Lord Himself visited you and cut a covenant with you? Slowly, however, something began to happen. Time passed. Ten years came and went, and the Lord’s word hadn’t even begun to come to pass yet. I don’t care how patient you are, ten years will start to feel like a long time. Abram arrived at a fork in the road, and his decision changed the course of history.
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said (Gen. 16:1-2, NIV).
He allowed someone to convince Him to “help” the Lord’s word come to pass by taking matters into their own hands. This is what I want to focus on. When we have a clear word from the Lord, let Him bring it about no matter how long it takes. The “how” matters tremendously, not just the “what.” Abram heard the word of the Lord, but He didn’t hear a “how.” When his patience (or his confidence) grew thin, he tried to create a path for himself. That self-carved path led to generations of pain in Abraham’s family even though it looked like it was creating the outcome of the word of the Lord.
I’m not spinning scare tactics here. The Lord is good and He can redeem all things, but I do want us to see the seriousness of staying yielded to the Lord in every step. When God speaks a clear word, He cares as much about how it comes to pass as the outcome. Much of His transformative work in our lives happens in the “how.” The “what” often takes time because He has a purpose in how it comes to pass. Please hear my heart; I’m not saying run around paralyzed and scared to take any steps. Pursue the Lord’s promises with passion.
I believe the will of God can be vast in many areas. Oftentimes, He allows us to make decisions because He trusts us, but we have to stop, ask, and listen. We have to weigh our choice with the Lord. If something looks like it could be an opportunity for a word He spoke to come to pass, don’t make an assumption. Stop and ask Him if that is your step. This helps keep us from self-promotion (forcing a word to happen outside of His plan) and choosing seemingly “good ways” over “God ways.”
You have a word from God over your life, and that’s wonderful! Celebrate it, believe it, treasure it, hold on to it for dear life. Just don’t force it. In my waiting on His word of “Mother” in my life, I’ve had many opportunities to attempt to make it happen: more extensive medical interventions, adoption, assuming the word was just in reference to spiritual mothering… you name it. Each of those is a wonderful thing, and I’m all for them. I have dear friends who the Lord has told to pursue those things, and it was obedience for them to do so. But I know in my heart, because I’ve weighted each of those options with the Lord, that He hasn’t told me those are my paths right now.
Who knows, they could be tomorrow, but I’m responsible for my obedience today. How His word comes to pass is as important in His plan as the word itself. We see it in Abram’s life, and we can see it in our own. When we stay confident in Him and keep our ear tuned to His voice, we’ll never feel the need to rush the Lord or try to take matters into our own hands.
Often, His path is longer, wild, but more brilliant than anything we could come up with. His “how” is as trustworthy as His “what.” Our job is to stay yielded and surrendered so we are ready to say yes to each step of His “how.” For anyone who is waiting on a promise to come to pass, I’m with you. I hope this encourages you to be confident that His plan is in place even if you can’t see evidence of it. His “how” is beautiful.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on realistsandfairytales.blogspot.com
Featured Image by Eutah Mizushima