When God called Abram to leave his people, his nation and embark on an adventure, he had no idea what God was about to do with his life.
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him:and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
We are not told for how long God spoke to Abram before he obeyed the direction and will of God for his life. God said in essence, “Until you leave Haran I cannot use you or bless you the way I want to.” Abram was 75 years old when he finally obeyed the call of God and departed from Haran taking his wife and his nephew along with him.
After some years of sojourning in the nations God led him through, God blessed Abram with gold and material things. In fact he was so rich that Lot his nephew who went along with him also became rich and this eventually caused strife between them and Lot moved away from Abram and pitched his tent towards sodom.
But Abram had no child. After ten years of Abram’s adventure with God he became tired of waiting for the promised child. God had promised him that his wife would give birth to a child and that child would give birth to kings and nations, but it hadn’t yet happened and Abram was getting old. Abram was desperate. He prayed and cried out to God to make the child of Eliezer his heir, but God said no. God told him in Genesis 15:1-5, that “Your heir will come out of your own loins.” The bible says that Abram believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.
However Sarai his wife didn’t believe in all the spiritual nonsense her husband was talking about. She had two problems. First she was barren and secondly she had gone beyond menopause and it was virtually impossible for her to conceive and have a baby. Sarai decided to take matters into her own hands. She encouraged her husband to take Hagar her Egyptian maid as a wife so that he could have a heir from his own loins.
Sometimes our instinct for self preservation can push us to become desperate and initiate a move without the express instruction of the Holy Spirit. We want to see great things happen in our lives, family, business, career and ministry. We make mental calculations, come up with flawless plans and chart our own course to the place God has told us that He would bring us to. We take a look at our qualifications, expertise, abilities, giftings, financial resources, social connections and realise that we can do more than what we are currently doing with our lives. We realise that if we pushed ourselves a little we can accomplish more, rise higher in our career, make more money in our business, become more prominent in ministry and make greater impact than we are already making.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing more with our lives and making greater impact. However, when we rush to do these things driven by our instinct for self preservation, driven by human ambition, driven by pride, driven by an over estimation of our calling and assignment, we end up creating something that God has no hand in. This will lead to untold problems in our lives.
Abram listened to the wrong counsel of his wife, married Hagar, had sexual intercourse with her and she conceived and bore a son named Ishmael. From the moment Ishmael was conceived Sarai realised that she had made a terrible mistake in giving Hagar to Abram as wife but it was already too late. She realised that she had made an irreversible mistake. She wanted her husband to have a heir but she had not forseen the terrible consequences of her counsel and actions.
When we fail to wait for the counsel and timing of God, when we go our own way, chart our own course, make our own plans and carry out our own agenda, it always produces an Ishmael in our lives. An Ishmael may look good to men but it is something you will regret and possibly live with for the rest of your life. In fact, an Ishmael can outlive you and create problems for your descendants even after you are gone from the scene.
And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
This is what God said about Ishmael: ‘He will be wild. He will be a man of violence. His life will forever be defined by unrest, conflict, wars and violence.’ Let us be clear about one thing. This in no way represents what God has in mind for ANY of His children. When God blesses you or births something in your life it doesn’t come with pain or sorrow-Proverbs 10:22. But when we conceive and birth an Ishmael in our lives it comes with problems until the day God shows us mercy and delivers us from the consequences of our mistake.
Several years ago an associate pastor in a ministry was given unwise counsel by a group of affluent and terribly disgruntled members of that ministry. They told him that he was too gifted to be under the leadership of his pastor and should break away to start his own ministry. Unfortunately this associate pastor listened to their evil counsel and broke away from that ministry carrying along with him a group of disgruntled people to start a church. This brother had a powerful calling on his life which was very visible to those who knew him but he wasn’t quite ready to launch out on his own.
Let me pause here for a moment. It is foolish to start a church with disgruntled sheep from another ministry. Unhappy, disgruntled and dissatisfied sheep will only reproduce the same thing wherever they go. There is a difference between hungry sheep and disgruntled sheep. Hungry sheep are good people who yearn for more which their pastor cannot provide for them because he has reached his own spiritual ceiling. Hungry sheep should be welcomed with open arms. But disgruntled sheep are people who are caught up in a cycle of hurt, bitterness and unforgiveness. They should be avoided by all means.
This associate pastor started a church with these disgruntled sheep as his core group of members. Although he was gifted and had a calling on his life but because this pastor broke spiritual protocol, because he refused to align himself patiently with divine timing, because he followed men and money and not God, he initiated and birthed an Ishmael, something which God had absolutely nothing to do with. From the very first day the church started it was plagued by problems. It was an Ishmael characterised by confusion, internal fightings and instability. A few years down the line many of his supporters abandoned him and the ministry eventually shut down. That is where an Ishmael will take you.
There are believers who have ‘married an Ishmael’ because they were too impatient to allow God prepare and bring their spouse to them. They were in too much of a hurry to get married therefore they fell into a satanic trap and got married to a person who has no bearing whatsoever on God’s plan or purpose for their lives. Many years after their wedding their lives are full of turmoil and conflict. They have birthed an Ishmael and only God can deliver them from it. We should understand that marriage is not merely about companionship and fellowship. It is about fulfilling God’s perfect will for our lives through our union and connection.
Some have died prematurely in wrong marriages. Some are stranded in life because they got married to a spouse who has no desire for God or His kingdom. Their home is like an MMA ring, full of mental, emotional and sometimes physical violence. Some were deceived to get married to an Ishmael because of his or her beauty, wealth, material possessions, qualifications and success only to discover later on that if God is not involved in a relationship none of these things matter. As believers we should be more concerned about the soul qualities of the person we want to get married to than anything else.
You may have a calling to start businesses, plant churches, build schools and universities, enter into politics, influence people through art, movies, fashion, music, books etc. You must understand that God has a timing for you to launch into His plans for your life. He has a time, a location and a pattern for you to follow. If you allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the human instinct for self preservation and survival, you will rush to start things which have no divine backing, support or approval. These things may look successful to men but they would have caused great damage to God’s plan for your life. An Ishmael brings pain to your family, friends, community and people we are responsible for. An Ishmael is a complete diversion from God’s will for your life and will bring you into a valley of conflict and confusion.
To avoid birthing an Ishmael in your life you should pursue God in the place of prayer. Release all you are to the Father. Abandon yourself completely to do His will, no matter what it may be. Do not allow yourself to be rushed, pushed or seduced into something that has no divine approval because you feel that life is passing you by. It isn’t. Trust that the Father knows what He is doing in your life and will birth His Will in your life in His own timing.
©Praise George 2016