As I read today, there was one part that really struck me. God tells Abraham, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant... I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring." (vs 12-13)
God had told Abraham that He would make him into a great nation. He promised that, in her old age, Sarah would give birth to a son, and his descendants would far outnumber the grains of sand on the earth. While Abraham accepted God’s promise, he and Sarah set out to fulfill the promise for Him. In so doing, Abraham ended up with a son he was never supposed to have. Whoops.
Yet, regardless of all that Abraham and Sarah did, the Bible says that Abraham had Isaac "at the very time God had promised him." (vs 2) The couple’s mistakes in running ahead of God’s promise didn’t cancel the promise He had made to them. On the contrary, in verses 12 and 13, we see that God actually incorporated their mistakes into His plan! Though it wasn’t His Plan A, God told Abraham that He would turn Ishmael into a great nation as well, since Ishmael was also Abraham’s offspring.
What kind of God is this? A God who is willing to modify His plans and promises based on our response to Him, even based on our mistakes? Once again, this is proof that God is not some distant and disconnected Deity who runs the universe and expects us to "just get in line." He takes us seriously, He takes our relationship seriously, and He takes what we do seriously. He interacts with us in a very real way, working out His plan for our lives by incorporating both His actions and ours in the beautiful tapestry He is weaving!