Thursday, April 29, 2010

God Hears

Hagar dropped the last bag of provisions over the side of her camel. She searched the backdrop of tents nervously and then surveyed the shepherds on night duty in the distance.  No one seemed to notice her impending departure.  With a bit of struggle, she mounted her camel.  “Yah! Yah!” and she was off!  It was possibly a brave, or possibly a foolhardy attempt through deserted landscapes.  But Hagar felt pushed beyond hope.  Her atmosphere was now filled with animosity.  Perhaps it was her own fault.  Upon agreeing to marry Abraham, she assumed she would obtain a better standing in the household.  When she became pregnant she was certain of it.  Her certainty had bred an arrogance in her own soul; an arrogance that she would pay for dearly.  Sarai sought every opportunity to degrade and punish her for it.  The situation had become unbearable.  Very humbly, Hagar came to realize that she was merely a servant and impregnated second wife.  Her marital state was not born of love.  It might be said that she was a commercial womb.  There was something gross about her situation that demeaned her value daily.  
Hagar ran, fearfully, from all of the confusion to carry her misery into the desert.  She pulled her warm cloak tightly against her body to shield her from the cold desert night.  The stars overhead shimmered like happy heroes for the hopeful soul.  Hagar felt her heart break in every sparkle. …she was not a hopeful soul and could not enjoy the sound of their singing.  Dance with Me!  Dance with Me!  they giggled.  She was miles from the encampment now.  The camel’s hoof beats echoed between canyon walls.  Hagar studied the cracked fortresses with trained eyes.  Enemies could be lurking anywhere.  She appeared to be alone except for the stirring whispers that seemed to surround her.  She cautiously wondered at the stability of her own imaginations and prayed a handful of superstitious prayers.  The stars cut a slit of light through the canyon illuminating her path.  She would follow this path to nowhere certain until the break of day. 
By morning, Hagar’s eyes lost their focus and began to close.  She forced herself awake unwilling to end her first leg of the journey just yet.  It didn’t make sense to stop until the sun heated the landscape.  By that time, it would be unbearable to travel and she would be nearer to a spring of water.  She had spent all night considering where she would go from here.  She had not reached any decision.  Too many tears littered her emotions and prevented a clear thought process.  As the sun rose higher in the sky, Hagar’s vision became more cloudy.  She was tired and her belly ached from child and sobs.  Nevertheless, she managed to reach the expected spring.  She carefully lowered her limp body down the side of the camel and steadied her stance.  There was the spring bubbling gleefully as though all the world were bright.  As Hagar bent to refresh her throat, a kind sensation tapped her shoulder.  “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?’  Hagar turned about to see a sweet face.  “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.”  Their eyes met.  She realized that He already knew this.  God had sent a servant to intercept another servant.  His message to her was simple: go back and bless and serve Sarai.  Sarai’s perspective was not the final verdict on Hagar’s life.  God had a plan for Hagar and her newly formed son.  “And the angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son.  You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction’. ...So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing, for she said “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.  Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi.” Genesis 16:11-14.
Ishmael means “God hears” and Beer-lahoi-roi means “the well of the living One who sees me”.  Hagar had met with right perspective that day.  God had revealed Himself as the one who sees her pain and hears her cry.  Throughout her wilderness journey His compassionate heart had surrounded her vulnerable soul, listening to her sobs and watching over her womb.  Hagar was not alone.  Her story would not become circumstantially painless after this event.  Hagar would once again find herself on a very similar journey.  But she would not be running….
God had made a covenant not only with Abraham, but also with Sarai.  “And God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.  I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her.  I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her’,” Genesis 17:15-16.  It was by God’s choice and wisdom that Sarah became the bearer of the promised son.  Isaac, the promised son, was born when Ishmael had become a young boy.  Hagar had received her perspective of life from a God who restored her value.  But Ishmael had not.  The firstborn Ishmael mocked the position of the second born Isaac.  There was anger present.   Sarah requested that Hagar and Ishmael be sent away.  God intervenes and tells Abraham to do what Sarah says and He assures Abraham that He will make Ishmael a great nation also.  
“So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away.  And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.  When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes.  Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, ‘Let me not look on the death of the child.’  As she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept.  And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What troubles you Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.  Up!  Lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation’,” Genesis 21:14-18.  Hagar, have you forgotten?  I am the God that sees you.  I am the God that hears you.   I am that God that hears your son.  “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.  And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink,” Genesis 21:19-20.
O that we could always see from His perspective.  That we would everyday believe that He hears our cry.  Hagar ran and wept and He heard her cry.  Hers is not a story of increasingly wonderful circumstances.  Hagar is cast once again into the same desert she returned from years earlier.  But hers is a story of perspective.  Where mans decisions had designed her circumstantial life, God intervened to redesign her heart.  Hagar could have become an angry woman on a crooked path.  But instead she became a woman who met with God and trusted His heart.  O child of the human world, God hears you and see you.  What do you hear and see?

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