We are all guilty of making rash decisions that affects our future in a positive or negative way. In Biblical terms, a rash decision is sometimes called an “Ishmael” moment. It is a moment when we act on our emotions and impatience and force something to happen prematurely. We do not pray before acting in our flesh. We do not think about the consequences of our actions. We live in the moment and deal with the consequences later. The only problem is it requires God’s grace and mercy to clean up our mess. These rash decisions have ripple effects in our lives as well as those around us. It is a moment that will change our lives forever. It changes who we are and leaves us with regret.
In the book of Genesis, Abraham and Sarah made a rash decision without consulting God first. Sarah was barren and became impatient to give her husband a son. One day she decided to allow Abraham to sleep with her Egyptian slave, Hagar. Hagar conceived immediately and had a son named Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-4). This caused many issues in the family, and Sarah began to resent Hagar out of jealously.
In chapter 17, God declares to Abraham that he “will be the father of many nations” (v. 4). Even after Sarah and Abraham acted on their own emotions and created Ishmael, God still promised them a son. God told Abraham He would return “this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son” (Genesis 18:10). Sarah was listening outside the tent, and laughed in disbelief because of their old age (Genesis 18:10-15). In Chapter 21, Sarah “became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham…at the very time God had promised [Abraham]” (v. 2). Abraham named him Isaac (Genesis 21:3).
Even though God gave them their promised child, Isaac, He still needed to deal with Hagar and Ishmael. Hagar and her son continued causing problems in Abraham and Sarah’s life even after Isaac was born. In Genesis 21, Sarah sent Hagar and Ishmael away. Sarah told Abraham to “get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac” (v. 10). Abraham hesitated at first, but God comforted him by promising Abraham Ishmael will be over a nation just like Isaac because he is your offspring. The next morning, Abraham helped Hagar and Ishmael get ready for their departure. Hagar left with her son into the desert of Beersheba (Genesis 21:14).
God still cared about Hagar and her son even though it was not in His original plan for her to have a child with Abraham. “God was with the boy [,Ishmael,] as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer” (Genesis 21:20). God provided for Hagar and her son in the desert with food, water, and protection.
Abraham still had to face the consequences of his actions for having Ishmael. Ishmael married and had many children. He is recognized as an important prophet and patriarch of Islam. He became known as “under the name Ishmaelite, or Arabs, the people of the desert” (https://therefinersfire.org/ishmael_and_isaac.htm). He became a great leader of a nation just like God promised. The friction between Sarah and Hagar and their sons Isaac and Ishmael created hate between the Jews and the Arabs up to present day. The jealousy and resentment in this story caused a ripple effect for us today.
Even though God intervenes in our situations, the “Ishmael” moments stays with us and has a ripple effect on our lives. God comes to our rescue in the moment, but we have to live with the consequences of our actions. We have to see the ripple effect it caused in our family and friends lives. We have to take responsibility of our actions and ask God to clean up the mess that we created. God may protect us from seeing all the damage that we can do in one rash moment, but others may see the affect for the rest of their lives.
God can heal any situation, but every situation has it’s consequences. The next time you make a decision that will affect the people around you, including yourself, go to God in prayer and wait for His response. Then, with God’s permission, make your choices wisely. The choices you make in life determines your future. It determines the future of those around you.