I’ve been thinking about the Isaac and Ishmael story. Isaac’s creation and existence was in God’s time. Ishmael was by Sarah’s plan to obtain a son through Hagar.
Both were sons of Abraham, so you would expect them to have similar lives. But they didn’t. Isaac’s life was blessed and superior. Isaac had God’s endorsement, while Ishmael was man’s plan. Though Abraham pleaded with God to include Ishmael in God’s promise to Abraham’s descendants, and God agreed, it was a consolation promise. Isaac got to be on the inside with his father, while Ishmael ended up on the outside. Man’s plan could not usurp a plan of God.
Ishmael’s life was conceived by human agendas. We can do the same today. We can live leaving God out of the equation.
Isaac’s life was conceived by God’s will. We can do that today also. We can include God and commit to being fully cooperative with His will for our lives.
If we submit to God, what will He do with us? Will he force us to be subject to the whims and powers of life’s unfoldings, beaten down by life? No. If we are met with opposition, it is to gain from the experiences, not to be beaten by them. God aspires that we overcome evil with good, and ultimately move from wartime to peacetime. Trials serve to develop character and fortitude.
In contrast, if we are pressed to be a success according to human plans, like Ishmael, we will become a product of society’s values.
Can a person raised by man’s methods, mentored to rise in status among men, displace a person raised and mentored by God? No. Though they had the same father and similar environmental influences, Ishmael never rose to the position granted Isaac.
Some people look at the opportunities God has given to others and want those opportunities for themselves. They try to get there by human methods, and wonder why they fall short. The route to a God-appointed position is via God’s will. We must be willing to go God’s route; to be shaped by Him; to be raised by Him as if we were infants again. We must let God teach, mentor, evaluate, promote, and ultimately determine the course of our lives.
Opportunity has a ceiling when done by human effort. It can’t compare to the peak potential of a life in the hands of God.
God’s ways are not our ways. He aims His Isaacs toward enduring influence on humanity. He raises his Isaacs to have effectual, righteous character and integrity, through which societal thinking can be penetrated by God’s justice, mercy, and love.
An Isaac ends up esteemed by humanity. We all are beneficiaries of the Isaacs of this world — people shaped by God; not just another Ishmael shaped by man. An Isaac life postmortem is remembered by his infusion of the ways of God into the lives of others.
An Isaac can bridge social barriers that an Ishmael cannot. An Isaac earns the right to be heard. He cares nothing about society’s cast systems and attends to those God sends him to, regardless of their social status. Without bias, he informs people of their rights to truth, hope, and freedom.
Isaac was conceived and had life, because God created him.
Ishmael was conceived and had life, because man created him.
Which do you want?
It’s a simple as letting God or letting man, letting God or letting society, letting God or letting yourself have the “say-so” about you.
Man versus God. Let it be God.