Hope for My Aimless Wandering
By: Kristine Brown
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” - Proverbs 16:9, NLT
I love when the date rolls over to a new month on the calendar. Excitement builds as I stare at the blank squares in my planner. Those wide-open spaces on the page represent the potential for good things. And so, I begin the process of planning. Filling up every bit of white space with scribbled efforts - evidence of all my good intentions and striving to do it all.
Yet, even with all the spaces filled and the calendar full, I still don’t feel satisfied. Somehow my to-do list doesn’t give me the sense of direction I long for. I still feel like I’m wandering aimlessly through each day with nothing more than a busy schedule to show for it.
God knew there would be times when we would lack direction. Times we feel void of purpose, and like we can’t hear Him at all. In the book of Genesis, we find the story of a woman named Hagar, the handmaid to Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Hagar knew what it was like to have no direction, no purpose, no hope. Living among foreign people with customs very different from her own would’ve been hard enough. Add to that her new role as mother to Abraham’s first-born son. I’d say Hagar had every right to be overwhelmed by her circumstances.
When Sarah couldn’t conceive, she gave Hagar to her husband to have a child. The birth of Ishmael brought about years of strife between the two women. Sarah finally had enough when she saw Hagar’s son Ishmael making fun of her young son Isaac. She demanded that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away forever, so he did.
“So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba.” - Genesis 21:14
Have you ever felt like you were wandering aimlessly? No one to offer guidance, no answer up ahead to keep you moving in the right direction. Then you understand Hagar’s struggle that day. The father of her son, sworn to protect and care for them, sent them far away with not enough water to survive. Even the best-laid plans wouldn’t get her out of that mess. That’s when God opened her eyes to her next step.
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” - Proverbs 16:9 NLT
In Hagar’s story, I can’t help but notice God’s timing. He spoke words of hope and healing to Hagar as she sat alone in the wilderness. The angel of the Lord called out to her in the quiet of her solitude and sadness. Verse 19 says, “God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water.” She gave Ishmael a drink, and that one small step set them on a course to their promised future.
I’ll admit; I don’t like aimless wandering. Maybe that’s why I work so hard to fill every free moment with things to do. But I’m inspired by Hagar’s story today. Even though she faced incredible hardship, her journey teaches us an important lesson. Maybe when our plans aren’t getting us anywhere, the blank space on the calendar will allow us to hear God’s direction.
So, let’s commit to leaving some blank space for God. We can even mark it on the calendar if we need a reminder! I pray the time we spend in God’s presence will outweigh the time we spend planning our lives. Then like Hagar, we will be open to hearing the voice of God in our wanderings. And I am convinced, we will experience peace and purpose through each step He determines.
For more resources on seeking God’s direction, check out this 5-day study from Kristine Brown, Walking with Rahab: A 5-Day Challenge to Better Decision Making. Discover this and more in the Life Enrichment Library at kristinebrown.net. Kristine is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and the new Over It. Devotional for Teen Girls.
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