I often find myself needing to guard against making “Hagar” choices. That’s where I take things into my own hands and try to control the circumstances to guarantee the outcome. You may be guilty of the same thing, but just haven’t connected it to the Egyptian servant girl and her story in Genesis. It’s probably unfair, however, to blame Hagar for this failure to wait for God’s timing. She was just the one used to move things along when God seemed to need help.

You know the story. God told Abraham and Sarah they would have a son and years later they were still waiting. They weren’t getting any younger so Sarah decided to take charge. Hagar, her servant girl, became the surrogate mother for what they thought would be the promised child. Wrong. That wasn’t God’s plan and it wasn’t His timing.

It’s not uncommon for us to act like Sarah in order to make things happen. We make plans and feel confident that God is leading in a certain direction. Then before we know it, we’re in control, calling the shots and making sure that whatever happens is just the way we know God wants it to—with our help. I’m not advocating a total hands-off policy, but Proverbs 3:5-6 is a good reminder to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

When God has impressed something upon my heart, it’s so much better to wait for Him to work in His time to accomplish His plan. I need to remember the choices David made regarding King Saul. David had been anointed by Samuel to be the next king, but found himself hiding in the wilderness and in caves instead. Twice that I can think of, David had opportunity to change the situation. He refused and ended up with a piece of Saul’s robe (I Samuel 24:1-11) and the king’s spear and water jug (I Samuel 26:5-11) instead of Saul’s head. And this was David’s choice. He was waiting for God’s timing even though he could have taken matters into his own hands.

Often one of the hardest words for me to accept is the little four-letter word WAIT—usually followed closely by the word PATIENTLY. I want to see results now and when I try to make things happen, that’s when I get myself into trouble. It doesn’t necessarily need to be big decisions that I’m making, even the little day to day choices reflect my faith in God and His ability to work on my behalf. Proverbs 16:9 reminds us that “the mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” and in Proverbs 16:3 we are told to commit our works to the Lord, and our plans will be established. That doesn’t leave much room for a take charge mentality. Our plans and the choices we make concerning those plans should be in God’s hands even when that means we have to sit on ours and watch Him work.

All through life we make choices: in school it may be our friends and our reaction to situations around us and as adults, our ambitions and goals. Joshua’s words to the children of Israel are appropriate for us today—“Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve”—and when we make that all important first choice, then any “Hagar” choices can be dealt with through prayer and with the power of the Holy Spirit. Take charge and be in control or wait for God’s plan and His timing? It’s our choice.