Why Am I Doing This?

“He settled in defiance of all his relatives.”

That phrase, which I read in Genesis 25:18 in my Bible reading time this morning, stopped me dead in my tracks.

It’s talking about Ishmael, Abraham’s first son, but not the son of promise. Things had been rocky in Ishmael’s relations with the rest of his father’s family right from the get-go, in fact, while he was still in his mother’s womb.

“Stubborn” by Mate Marschalko is licensed under CC BY 2.0

So it’s no surprise that his defiance of his family influences his decision on where to settle. But what did it cost him?

As I stopped to ponder the verse I wondered what I have settled for strictly because it was in defiance of someone else. Maybe it was that boss who told me I would never make it to being a buyer at Macy’s, and so I worked myself sick, suffering from multiple migraines a week, and endured a 4-hour-a-day commute simply to prove her wrong.

Maybe my own pride has gotten in the way of accepting the wisdom of someone else because I didn’t want them to be right in their assessment of me. Perhaps I’ve made foolish choices because I didn’t want to be what others expected of me. It’s possible I’ve done things that shock others or bring their disapproval simply so they can’t pigeonhole me.

Where have I settled in defiance? And have I ever done it in defiance of God? Have I plopped myself down somewhere other than the place of his choosing because I didn’t want him telling me what to do? Or maybe because I didn’t want to believe his assurance of what I was capable of doing if I allowed him to work through me? What have I missed out on?

Have you settled in defiance?

Maybe it’s time we pray Psalm 139:23–24 with King David:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

What hurtful ways have I settled down into in defiance?

May he show me. May I be willing to move out of that settlement.

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