You can’t quit your relatives. If you’re not independently wealthy, you can’t quit your co-workers either. I know I cannot quit my job any time soon. No matter how hard I try to get away from them, there are situations that I’ve been in that seem to persist. I may try to ignore them and run away from them, but they just keep showing up. WHY?!?!?!
You cannot fix what you will not face. – James Baldwin
Thank God for spiritual stop signs, roadblocks, detours and his reliable G-odly P-ositioning S-ystem. If it wasn’t for him allowing U-turns, I’d be totally lost as well as broken, hurt, and bitter.
I thought about this when reading about Sarai’s servant, Hagar. We don’t talk about her much, but she had a conversation with God that struck me deeply. When she ran away from her home to the desert, God asked her “where have you come from, and where are you going?” I’m sure several of my readers know the story, but let me bring the rest up to speed…
She was running away from her troubles at home. It was a dysfunctional situation. At her mistress’ request she was to serve as a surrogate – meaning sleep with her mistress’ husband and get pregnant so that her masters could have a child. Her mistress was taking matters into her own hands, but that’s her story. We’re talking about Hagar. Hagar was taking matters into her own hands too. For one, she thought her position as servant had shifted. She thought by getting pregnant by her mistress’ husband she’d been elevated. Her attitude led to her being abused by Sarai. Then, she took matters into her own hands and decided she’d leave the situation all together. She ran away pregnant with possibility. What did God tell her to do?
Go back to your mistress. Put up with her harsh treatment of you. – Genesis 16:9
Wait! What?!?! Lady, you’ve put yourself in the desert, now what’s your plan? I’m sure it wasn’t to go back where she’d come from. Would she be obedient? Would you? I’ve had to go back over the past couple of years and face things that I’d been ignoring for YEARS. I’ve had to take ownership of my messed up stuff. Might as well, it keeps showing up.
Over the past two years I’ve listened to several sermons, read memes, and had conversations about being in the wilderness. Not once did I consider that I may have put myself in a desert. Here I am waiting, thinking I’m being prepared for my promised land ahead; not quite sure what that is, but pregnant with possibility. Sure of it. However, my preparation involved going back to where I’d come from and facing the discipline I was due for the mess I’d caused at times just by my attitude. I had thought that my way, avoiding and ignoring my past, was going to get me to a better position in life. An independent spirit isn’t the way forward, it’s humility.
I now realize from meditating on Hagar’s story that humbly accepting the consequences of not waiting on the Lord IS a part of the process; whether it was waiting for him to handle the matter or give me direction. He has a plan for me and a way to carry it out. I need to change my attitude where I am before I can move forward. That involves accepting and surrendering to God’s way. His plan prevails, not mine. Sometimes obedience will require me to go back in order to move forward.
Hagar’s blessing was back where she had been. Why? Her blessing was tied to Abraham’s. God has blessed him, and every nation would be blessed through him. (Genesis 12:1-3) We’ll never know, but perhaps if she had stayed where she was or persisted in moving forward, her blessing may have died in the desert.
Admitting my faults and facing my part in a bad situation, adjusting my attitude is all part of the process. This is a different perspective on being in the wilderness, whether it’s time to move forward, or I need to go back. I may be in the desert. Ultimately, I need to check my movements through God’s GPS, because a decision made without checking with God first is a road trip headed for disaster.
So sometimes the way forward, the way out of a mess, is going through the mess, dealing with and owning the consequences of the mess and changing my attitude. That’s part of receiving my blessings. It’s never by my own will that the way out is made, but I need to trust and rely on God to make the way. I will know that it’s him because I couldn’t have done it on my own. He doesn’t need my help. He definitely doesn’t need me to do something selfish or dishonorable to attain honor.
Just as God redirected Hagar when she cried out to him, he will direct my steps, and correct my missteps. There will be times that I’m not sure what to do, but one thing I know for sure, no matter where I am I can trust that he hears me when I cry out to him. He’s right there. He was there for this Egyptian servant. Therefore, I’ll be able to say just like Hagar did…
…You are ‘God Who Sees Me.’…I see that even in this place God sees me and cares for me! – Genesis 16:10
As I continue to pray for discernment of when to be still and when to move, all along the way I’m striving to listen to God. ❤