Just when we think we understand God’s plan for our lives, He sometimes takes us the opposite way than we would expect.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Gen. 22:8 (NIV)
“Now there was a famine in the land… The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live.” Gen. 26:1-2 (NIV)
The Lord had promised an heir to Abraham and had miraculously brought it to pass. But He made it clear that even though Isaac was a key figure in His plan, and even though he was the long-awaited fulfillment of a promise, it still was not all about Isaac. Flying in the face of logic, which would dictate that the precious promised one should be protected at all costs, the Lord asked Abraham to sacrifice him. When Abraham, in faith, went through the steps of doing so, right up to the last second, the Lord stopped him and reiterated His promise to bless the world through his offspring.
Fast-forward to the time when Isaac was an adult, married with children — the seed of the promise and the carrying out of God’s plan. Once again, logic would dictate protecting them and providing for them in whatever way was practical. But when famine came to the land, the Lord instructed Isaac not to take the prudent course of taking refuge in Egypt, but to stay in the land where He had told them to live. When Isaac obeyed, He again reiterated the promise of blessing through the offspring.
Abraham and Isaac both seemed to understand an important concept here — it was important to keep listening to the Lord even after He had delivered on His promise, and even after He had set His plan in motion. When He promises us something, and especially when that promise or that plan involves a period of waiting, our faith can be built by the process as we learn to trust Him. However, if the focus of that faith shifts off the Lord and onto the promise, or the plan, then we can be in danger of going astray after its completion.
This is usually right at the point where we think we are “safe.” The long-awaited answer to prayer is delivered, or the wheels finally begin to turn on the new ministry or venture, and things appear to be just as they should be. This is not the time to get complacent, though. Just as Abraham needed to understand that he could not hold on to the son for which he waited such a long time, and just as Isaac needed to understand that his safety lay in obedience to the Lord and not necessarily in what he thought was the best course of action, we need to understand that the important thing in our lives is our relationship to the Lord, not the circumstances we have so longed for.
It’s never about the promise or the plan; it’s always about the Promiser and the Planner.