Monday, September 21, 2009


Why do I feel better when it’s not my fault? No matter what “IT” is, my sigh of relief is palpable when I discover someone else is to blame. How awful is that? How common is that? As parents, we run the gamut of great decisions and colossal mistakes. When our kids grow up, we can say with gusto, “I’ll pay for the first ten counseling sessions because I’ve undoubtedly screwed you up.” Well, one of our early parental blunders happened when we assigned blame incorrectly. Trina, our oldest and strong-willed child, was a precocious four-year-old at the time. Emily, the toe-headed princess who was often big sister’s partner in crime, was two. Papa Roy discovered that his grandfather’s antique pocket-watch had been taken from his desk drawer. Now, who do you think might have done such a thing? The Andrews’ parental unit assigned blame to the elder daughter. Amid Trina’s repeated and tearful denials, Emily stood by somberly, while Daddy reached for the paddle. “I won’t spank you hard if you’ll just tell me where you put the watch,” he said. “But I didn’t!” came the reply, and POP! Paddle to butt cheeks, and the fight was over. Well, not quite. A siren-like whine erupted from the little blonde in the corner. “I took it, Daddy! It was so pretty, and Casey (the barn cat) and I were swinging and it fell in the gwass.” Ugh. (The picture above was a common sight in those days - Trina with her puppy and Emily with the barn cat - swinging back and forth, as the cat and dog glared at each other)

Four-year-old butt cheeks do not forget an unjust spanking, and to this day, the Andrews’ parental unit is reminded of the undue punishment dished out on that dark day in Muncie, Indiana. Blame can be a hurtful thing – sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally, sometimes spiritually….

Gen. 16:1-4a – “Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, ‘The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.’ Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.”
  • Sarai blamed God for her barrenness, and I suppose the Creator of Life is ultimately responsible. The deeper issue is Sarai’s impatience with God’s promise and her busy-body solution. Have you ever wondered if Sarai offered Hagar to discover if it was her womb or Abram’s seed that was barren? Shame on me for considering such a diabolical plot. We don’t know Sarai’s heart at the beginning of the process, but when she discovered there was no one left to blame but her own barren womb, she became an emotional time-bomb.

Gen. 16:4b-6 – “When [Hagar] knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.’ ‘Your servant is in your hands,’ Abram said. ‘Do with her whatever you think best.’ Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.”

  • Hurt people hurt people. Sarai was hurting, and she blamed the one she loved most. Though it was Hagar who acted pridefully toward her mistress, Sarai aimed her venom at Abram…and called on the LORD to agree with her! Unfortunately, Abram’s wisdom seems to have gone on vacation, and he caves to his wife’s fury.

Gen. 16:7-9 – “The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ ‘I'm running away from my mistress Sarai,’ she answered. Then the angel of the LORD told her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her.’”

  • Hagar blames Sarai with no mention of her own snarky attitude. When we enter “fight or flight” mode, though we are in a heightened physical response state, our emotions can override our five senses by making them extremely selective. We begin to see, feel, hear, taste and smell only those things that our emotions tell us are true.

Gen. 16:10-14 – “The angel added [the LORD’S words], ‘I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.’ The angel of the LORD also said to [Hagar]: ‘You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.’ She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.”

  • Blame stops when we finally realize God SEES us and our circumstances thoroughly. When God asked for Hagar’s explanation, He wasn’t seeking information. He was checking her heart – and it was ugly. When the penetrating gaze of God’s inspection sees through our blame-shifting, who can ever find fault again? Why accuse? God already sees – me and everyone else. So Hagar returned to bear Abram a son because she had full confidence that God was watching. Not only did she realize SHE couldn’t get away with blame before God (the only place it matters), but neither could anyone else!

Lord, I am utterly naked before You, exposed completely, not a shadow of blame to hide behind. My life, my attitude, my heart are ultimately my choices – no one’s fault but my own. I bear them before You and ask you to help me keep them free of blame before You and others.

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