Little Things Give Them Away

Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.” She said, “Drink, my lord.” And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels.  Genesis 24:17-20

I will tell you that my past is riddled with the fallout from having been a bad judge of character.  Though I am by nature an intuitive person, I have been naïve about evil.  If someone claimed to be a Christian, I trusted them beyond a point that was prudent.  This came from a lack of instruction in my home.  My parents were also naïve, though I came to understand that they had reservations about people they failed to act upon.

God has been growing me up over the course of my adult life to understand that it’s the little things that give a person away.  And it’s the little things I can easily discount, or excuse, that will get me into trouble.

Eleazer was looking for a girl with good character and a good heart.  It was the little gesture from Rebekah that allowed him to discern that she was qualified to be Isaac’s wife.   Though Eleazar only asked her for a drink for himself, she went above his request by offering to water his entire group of camels.  This meant considerable physical labor for her.

How many have made bad choices in marriage by ignoring the little signs?  If a man (or woman) is guilty of angry outbursts in their twenties, you can be sure that left unchecked, it will only escalate.  To say, “Oh, he just had a bad day!” is to be naïve.  Everyone has bad days but many show restraint and model patience.

In these end times, it is imperative that each one in God’s family asks for wisdom and discernment.  There are many out to deceive and draw the flock away from Jesus.  They look good, even sound good, but it’s the little things that will give them away.  If you’re looking for a pastor, business partner, marriage partner, or prayer partner, be careful.  Excusing bad behavior, even in the mundane, will prove disastrous.

So many of us have been burned because we trusted without wisdom.  Teach us by showing us the signs that we missed.   Amen

Asking Vs. Demanding

Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’ – let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac.  By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”  Genesis 24:14

Because of Jesus’ harsh words in the Gospels about asking for a sign, I can wrongly conclude that asking for such a thing is displeasing to God.  But this story is just one passage in the Old Testament that proves God gladly gives signs.  The difference between an acceptable request and an unacceptable one is the reason behind the person making it.

Eleazar was on a mission for his master, Abraham.  Not just any girl would do for a wife for Isaac.  Eleazar knew that her life would be blessed but very difficult.  It would require unusual character and stamina, someone who would go the extra mile and not take shortcuts.  While other young women might offer a stranger a drink and be done with it, there would perhaps be one who would go above what was asked, such as extending the invitation to drink to all Eleazer’s weary camels.

There is a great difference between asking for a sign and making a demand. The first comes from trust and dependence and the latter comes from unbelief.   In a dark period of anger and unbelief, I remember putting God in a corner. “If you love me, You’ll reveal Yourself supernaturally to me in the next 24 hours.”  He didn’t and my anger grew.  Accusations abounded.  Humility was removed from the forefront.

 If signs were evil, then why would God give Jesus as a sign?  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  Is.7:14   When His people, in the context of relationship, looked longingly for salvation, God gave the best sign of all.  His only Son!

Perhaps God has spoken to you about your future.  You know that He is a covenant-keeping God.  You are standing in faith, watching for the fulfillment of what He has promised.  Along the journey, there have been some discouraging days but you cried out to God to strengthen your weakened heart. God knows what plagues you while you wait.  He is the one who sent angels to minister to Jesus in the wilderness when He was depleted and weary.  Only heaven will reveal the many ways He quietly held you and gave you spiritual wind for another day.  

I anticipate the stories of Your faithfulness to me.  I see them now with eyes of faith. Amen 

Finding An Ally

Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh, that I may make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”  Genesis 24:1-4

Who near you is willing to serve as a spiritual ally for your family?  I’m speaking of someone who loves members of your family just because you love them.  Someone who will invest in their future as a parent would.  Think of how many deathbed requests along this line have been made.  “Please take care of my child, or my wife, in my absence.”  Even Jesus, though near death on the cross, couldn’t stop thinking about his mother and asked John to consider her as his own mother.  For the rest of Mary’s life, she was in John’s household.

Abraham knew he was at the end of his life.  He believed God for the promise of future generations.  As long as he was alive, he could obey God and see the line blessed.  But soon out of the picture, the outcome seemed fragile.  For instance, his son, Isaac, now living near the Canaanites, could marry one of their women. How many families have taken a bad spiritual detour because of a bad marriage!

There was one man nearby to whom Abraham could entrust this critical situation.  Eleazar, the long-time steward of his household.  What a comfort for this old father to know that Eleazar would accept the challenge and responsibility for Isaac’s future.

Some have large families and know the benefits of having many blood relatives who will nurture the spiritual lives of their children.  Others have little family, so they lean into the relationships inside of God’s family.  With a chosen few, they enjoy a bond like that of Abraham and Eleazar. 

How many mentors have raised other children and kept them on God’s path?  A lot.  The promise Eleazar made to Abraham would mean a long journey to find Isaac’s wife.  Love for God and love for Abraham fueled his journey and he saw it through to its righteous conclusion.

Order my steps to last beyond my own life.  Amen

A ‘What If’ Kind of Person

            The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?”     Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.  Genesis 23:5-7

By nature, I could be a chronically fearful person.  My father was.  So was his mother.  I can remember visiting my grandmother often as a kid and seeing her wring her hands with a far off look in her eyes.  Eaten alive by the what ifs has been a family trait.  Fighting for faith instead of fear is hard work, especially because each what if seems so logical.  If it didn’t seem feasible, the thoughts wouldn’t stick.

Abraham models how to handle the uncertainties of the future.  He’s about to send Eleazar on a long journey.  He wants him to visit the land of Ur, his home country, to secure a wife for Isaac from the Jewish line.  But Eleazar sees one huge obstacle.  What if the potential bride refuses to return with him?  What then?

Abraham won’t even consider that.  His response is that God will go before him and make all things possible.  His trust that God will protect His line of descendants is rock solid.  He had a string of miracles to prove it.

A close friend of mine is eight years older than I am.  She models this kind of faith well and I’m amazed by it.  I know her life and it hasn’t been easy at all.  It still isn’t.  She has been the recipient of grim news many times throughout the time we’ve been friends.  The what ifs could have eaten her alive, but I’ve never seen it happen.  Though momentarily stunned, she digs deeply into her spirit and moves beyond unbelief. She’s trusted God in the dark, and to this day, she lives in peace.  Circumstantially, her life is not dependably peaceful.

No wonder scripture begs us to take every thought captive.  It implores us to reign them in.  Don’t feed them.  Not only do I think of many what ifs but so does my enemy.  He’s right there to feed the likelihood of dismal outcomes. 

I can worry about the future as if You won’t be in it.  Not only do You promise to be there, but You are preparing every sandaled footprint from here to there.  Let this slow the beating of my heart.  Amen 

Sarah, a Worthy Teacher

Sarah lived 127 years; And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.  Genesis 23:1-2

It is only right and fair to remember Sarah’s life today.  She lived 127 years and survived many hardships.  Her struggles were public as many of her triumphs and failures were captured for all of us to read.  She was named as an example of one who trusted in Yahweh.  Isaiah 51:2  She was mentioned as one whose faith was counted as righteousness.  Romans 4:19  She did a lot wrong but, oh, she did a lot right.  What can I learn from her?

  1. She persevered.  Abraham loved her but he was anything but a perfect husband.  He betrayed her badly when he tricked two kings into believing that she was his sibling, not his wife.  A pawn in Abraham’s hands, she was given over to be part of the kings’ harem.  It was God who had to step in to guard her chastity.  Despite this treachery in her marriage, she appeared to stay emotionally engaged with Abraham until the end. 
  2. She grew in her faith over her long life.  Refusing to coast, she ultimately believed God for the birth of the promised child, Isaac, at age 90.  In her old age, God renamed her for her faith.  When I wonder if God forgets the aged, I remember her story. 
  3. But she was also imperfect.  She gave her slave girl to be a concubine to Abraham.  Sarah was desperate and caved into doubt instead of faith.  Despite this and the catastrophic outcome of the birth of Ishmael, their marriage lasted, and Abraham mourned her death.  Forgiveness, not bitterness, triumphed in their marital relationship.

I’m halfway to Sarah’s age.  I often fight the urge to coast instead of to engage.  I’m aware today that there is so much life to live yet.  God’s greatest work in me is ahead of me, not behind me.  On a good day, I feel the joy and am in touch with His purpose for my life.  On a bad day, I persevere until the battle passes.

No coasting for me.  By your grace, I’ll be faithful to the end. Amen

A Lamb. Not a resurrection.

Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.  Genesis 22:8

Abraham set out for Mt. Moriah with faith.  His faith, however, did not include the appearance of a real lamb on top of the mountain.  He might have believed God would intervene after slaying Isaac and raise him from the dead.  Hebrews 11:19 reveals this side note. ‘Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.’  Abraham’s faith was in the right person, but he could not predict exactly how God would show His faithfulness.

When faced with a hopeless situation, I give it to my Father.  Then I take it back.  I set out to outline what His intervention will look like.  When God fails to act in the ways I believe He should, my faith begins to falter.  When will I learn that God’s answers are always outside my skillset of ingenuity.  When He moves, it leaves every child of His open-mouthed in astonishment. 

The foundation for audacious faith is utter hopelessness; the kind where no intervention can be second-guessed.  That way, all my hope is in God.  My eyes are peeled on the horizon, not knowing how, or when, God will appear.  Just because He moved a certain way in someone else’s life doesn’t mean He’ll do the same thing for me. In fact, probably not!  My miracle will be shaped according to my story.  It will address my specific kind of unbelief.  Though others may see a miracle, it may not thrill them like it does me because it was customized for my heart only.

For all who wait today on God, wait well!  Don’t faint because it appears God is taking too long or moving in a direction that makes no sense to you.  Climb the mountain with faith.  Remember that Abraham and Isaac’s lamb was just around the corner.

For every time I’ve accused You and fainted instead of waiting well, I’m sorry.  Hindsight shows Your faithfulness and strengthens me for all my tomorrows.  Amen