But hold on to choice
9 When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. 10 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad. 12 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.
Leah bore children, Rachel couldn’t so she had Bilhah bear children, and now Leah has her maid Ziplah bearing children, too. As I mentioned before, Rachel had to adapt to the unknown, and now we have Leah changing tactics, too.
And as for Jacob, all he had sought was one wife but now he had four! No doubt his life was a world away from anything he expected it would be while he was still living in his father’s household.
And what stands out to me out of all this is the futility of human plans. It frankly doesn’t matter what any of us think is going to happen in our lives, what will occur is only what God has already laid out for us. Even those who deny God’s purposes for themselves end up playing into His larger plan anyway.
It’s a hard thing to fully give up the reins to God, in fact that’s something I realize I still struggle with to this day. But if He’s the one calling the shots anyway, then life will feel a whole lot smoother as soon as I give up the illusion of control and just go with God’s flow.
11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
The day of Abraham’s offering had come, the altar had been prepared, and something needed to be sacrificed. But instead of it being Isaac, who is a representation of all humanity, the role was filled by an intervention of God instead.
But the intervention only came to Abraham when he was willing to surrender his all to God. Only by being willing to give God that which he loved best was the way opened for him to retain it.
Because if Abraham had withheld his son from God, what would he have accomplished? No matter how desperately he clutched to Isaac, he and the boy would eventually be parted by the grave anyway. Abraham was powerless to retain that which he loved any longer than mortal life allowed him.
But by giving up his modicum of control to God he invited powers that exceeded his own. Abraham couldn’t preserve his father-son relationship with Isaac, but God could. God could preserve Isaac and Abraham’s bond here and in heaven…but only if Abraham surrendered that relationship to Him first.
If there is anything that any of us want to hold onto forever, at some point we will have to surrender it to God, or else there won’t be any chance of it persisting beyond the grave.
12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. 13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.
Abraham was at an impasse, but in the midst of his conundrum God assured him it was alright to let Ishmael go. God assured Abraham that Ishmael would be under His protection and that He would raise the lad into a mighty nation of his own.
And this is a rehearsal for Abraham’s future sacrifice of Isaac. Here, with Ishmael, God is asking Abraham to turn his son over to God’s care, to surrender him with the trust that God will provide. Later Abraham will take that level of trust and surrender to a whole other level.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness
According unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions
I am continuing to examine the need to surrender my shame and burdens to God. Rather than always trying to make myself be better, I ought to let Him make me better.
But how do I do that? What are the steps to surrendering? What are the words that I must say to better invite God into my life?
I started asking myself these questions before I realized that I was making the exact same mistake as before! I was looking for some specific quota to fill that would bring God into my life. I wanted to be told “say these special words, pray this many times, help this many people.” And at its core this was all about having my healing be in my own power again. God will save me, just as soon as I earn His saving.
And as before, that’s just not how it works. As the psalm quoted above explains, it is according to His lovingkindness, and it is according to His mercies. It has to be His way, done on His own terms, and in His own due time. His will, not ours.
Humble yourselves under the hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time
The only formula that I should maintain is to try my genuine best, keep an open heart, hold out hope, trust that He will come, invite Him with sincerity, and be totally honest with Him and myself.
After all that, at what point along that journey will He show up? I have no clue.
When will He decide that I’m ready for His grace? Totally up to Him.
How and when will He heal my heart? Not for me to say.
I just trust that in His own time, in His own way, and by His own criteria…He will be there.
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed
If you’re like me, you struggled to accept the notion of God’s forgiveness being free. I wanted to pay Him back for the things I had done wrong, overcome my addictions by my own pure grit, and earn my place in salvation. After I failed to do this many times over, I finally humbled myself, and let Him win the victory for me. At long last I felt clean again.
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee
And if you’re like me, once you were washed clean you went straight back to believing it was only up to you to keep yourself clean. I had accepted that I had to rely on God for the “big” stuff (forgiving serious sins and healing very deep wounds), but I was still on the hook for the “smaller” stuff (day-to-day obedience and managing stress).
But this verse in Psalms simply says to “cast thy burdens upon the Lord,” with no qualifier for only the ones of a sufficient size. Slowly I’ve been realizing that God wants me to surrender the “small” stuff too.
And I need to. Because when I rely on myself I fail at the “small” stuff all the time. I try to grip tighter and tighter, but still slip, and wonder why I can’t make myself do it right. And you know what? I don’t think that’s a question I really have to answer right now. I think right now I just need to accept the fact of it and surrender it to God.
I need to say “I really can’t make myself do it right. Simple as it seems…it’s beyond me. So I’ll stop trying to do it alone, and open up my heart to you, God, instead. Will You please come inside and win this battle for me? I will let it be Your victory now, not mine.”