Suspended In A Beautiful Moment

And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you become thousands of ten thousands, and may your offspring possess the gate of those who hate him!  Genesis 24:60

Eleazar enters Rebekah’s home and introduces himself to her family. He tells them why he has come.  Her father and brother acknowledge the hand of God at work and give Rebekah permission to marry Isaac.  As she prepares to leave home, her family bursts forth with this blessing about her future offspring.  They did not, and could not know, that they were speaking the very words God had spoken to Abraham.

Has this ever happened to you?  God spoke a word to you. Deep in your spirit, you heard it.  But then, you second-guessed yourself and wondered if you were mistaken.  The price of acting upon it felt reckless.  You needed to know for sure of God’s call on your life, so you asked Him to confirm it. Then, out of the blue, someone spoke that very word again on the day you put it all on the line with God.  Maybe you heard it in a sermon.  Or it came come from a cashier in a market or it was said over lunch with an acquaintance.  The same words were spoken and you knew that something consequential had happened.  You were trembling and suspended somewhere with God. It was a burning bush moment, and you knew at that moment that you could move ahead without fear.

Rebekah had no idea though that as she heard her family’s blessing, it was identical to the words God spoke to Abraham, her future father-in-law.  Only as she married Isaac would she learn the family story.  She would learn of Abraham’s exodus from Ur.  She would come to know the God who spoke to him and she would understand that her own story was part of the Covenant plotline.

And so it is when I step out to follow God’s path for me. What God leads me to do today may seem small and isolated but with time, I will come to understand that it is connected to the bigger story of redemption.  All my steps are connected by the consummate Storyteller.

Someone reading this today is waiting for You to confirm something.  When you do, they will ‘leave Ur’.  Their steps will go in a new direction and they won’t look back.  Speak, Lord.  Amen

Weaponizing What Is Sacred

And all who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city. Genesis 24:34

Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, has been raped by the son of the king of Shechem. Her brothers are bent on revenge. Their plan is to compromise the physical strength of the men of Shechem so that they will be able to do them harm without risking their own lives. Specifically, they will feign making a treaty, suggesting that all the men of Shechem be circumcised, leading them to believe that both tribes will share the sacred rite of brotherhood. The trouble is, that circumcision, the sign of the covenant between Jewish people and their God, is being used as a weapon.

To understand how serious this is, think of it this way. You invite a certain person to share communion with you on Sunday and after the service, you take advantage of his proximity to kill him. Shocking to think of it this way.

There are lesser acts of treachery too; praying with someone to learn their secrets, buttering up the pastor for personal gain, marrying someone for money, and making a promise with your fingers crossed behind your back.

Simeon and Levi are the two sons of Jacob that mastermind this scheme. Later, Jacob will give his final blessing to his sons and each will be given land as an inheritance. All except Simeon and Levi. Jacob will not be able to forget what is in the heart of his sons.  He will be right to question their loyalty.  These two brothers will go on to plot unthinkable things against their own brother, Joseph. They will seize him, and toy with murdering him, but instead, will sell him into slavery. They’ll dip his clothes in the blood of an animal and proceed to massacre the heart of their father by saying that a wild beast killed him.

When I perpetrate deceitful acts, even small ones, they corrupt my heart. My response to wrongdoing is deadened. The next time around, it will be easier to do it again. I will not be in touch with the regression. Not until it’s too late.

It is a courageous thing to search my heart and ask some tough questions.  What is being done in the name of Jesus that God would consider treacherous? Where, in the name of God, am I manipulating others and justifying it?

Don’t let me read the stories in scripture, be shocked by their evil, and fail to see my own sin. Let the stories in Your Word be my teacher, Lord. Amen

He Was Not Self-Centered

“Please tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah. We have plenty of both straw and fodder, and room to spend the night.” The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.”   Genesis 24:23-27

For the most part, we are consumed with ourselves.  Any passion we feel about life has to do with something that directly affects us or our family.  It goes against our nature to fight self-centeredness.  I don’t recall getting something I really wanted as a child and willingly offering it to someone else instead.  I’m sure I clutched it to myself and said, “Mine!” 

What strikes me today about Eleazar is the spontaneous burst of praise that erupted when God confirmed that Rebekah was His choice for Isaac.  Though Isaac was not Eleazar’s own child, he was so elated for his master that he stopped to worship.  It would have been easy to check this mission off his list.

How many people am I this invested in?  Jesus defined discipleship as this:  believing on Him, picking up our cross, then loving His Father and loving others. “No greater love hath any man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend.”  Eleazar’s whole life revolved around serving Abraham.  It was not done begrudgingly ~ as evidenced by this specific part of the story.  Playing a part in the covenant promise to Abraham and his line of descendants was a high priority and he proved it when he set off on an arduous journey, followed by making a high-stakes choice of a bride for the next patriarch.  Amid this difficult mission, he celebrated as if the success had benefitted him personally.  What love and devotion in action!

Change my selfish heart.   Amen

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