Monday, November 30, 2009


Many people – dare I even say MOST – feel they've been wronged by at least one of the following: God, the Church or an over-zealous Christian. A perfect, infinite God works His unfathomable plan through imperfect people. Somebody's bound to get hurt, right? But the Safety Net is the “perfect, infinite God” part. Here's an example. When I was a teenager, my mom prayed and believed that the Lord would heal her near-sighted eyes. Standing on faith, she took off her glasses and peered at the eye chart at the DMV – no go. She lost her driver's license and spent several years listening to her smart-mouthed, rebellious daughter taunt her about trusting a God, who failed to answer prayer. Yep, each time my mom needed a chauffer or an errand-girl, I'd roll my eyes and mumble complaints, while she faithfully trusted the Lord to fulfill a promise she felt certain was hers. During these difficult years, my parents tried desperately to fend off the tidal wave of sin that threatened to drown me. With the heightened emotions of a teenager, I interpreted their attempts to draw me to holiness as violations of my freedom. Every time they used “God” or “the Bible” as a reason I couldn't do something, my anger toward them and God intensified.

One weekend I came home from college, and my mom asked that I drive her to the DMV for another attempt to read the eye chart. I parked the car but left the motor running, certain Mom's eyes would see no better this time than they had the hundred other times she'd looked at line #4. Minutes passed, and my patience waned until I looked up to find my mother standing with a DMV official. Her face was beaming, and she didn't need to say it…but she did. “The Lord healed my eyes, honey. Could you step out of the car, so I can take my driving test with the instructor now?” Years of cynicism balled up in my throat. The Spirit rescued my mom that day from my hurtful darts, and He began the slow chiseling of my stony heart. Eventually, God shattered my hard heart completely and rebuilt it with moldable flesh. I became thankful for the holiness my mom lived out before me and finally asked her forgiveness. Sometimes only God can heal the damage we inflict AND experience in the name of holiness. Today, my mom and I share an intimate friendship - trusting enough to tandem parasail on her 74th birthday!

Gen. 21:10 – “[Sarah] said to Abraham, 'Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.'”
Gen. 21:11-13 – “The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, 'Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring.'”
  • Does God sound uncaring to you? Should the LORD have let Ishmael remain in camp with Abraham? Remember that God is all-knowing and then consider the rivalry, bloodshed and tragedy that may have been averted because Sarah made this unthinkable demand on Abraham. Sometimes we must simply rely on our unwavering trust in God's infinite knowledge and goodness.
Gen. 21:14-16 – “Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, 'I cannot watch the boy die.' And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob.”
  • A parent‟s provision or a human‟s intellect can only provide so long. Eventually, we run out of answers and strength, and circumstances beyond our control overwhelm us. The real test begins when human provision is gone. How do we respond then? Anger? Despair? Or humble petition to the only One who can help?
Gen. 21:17-18 – “God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, 'What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.'”
  • Notice that the LORD spoke to Hagar – the woman – not to Ishmael, the receiver of the blessing. Again, God shows immeasurable grace to the lowly of this culture in order to mend her broken heart. More than likely, this was the first time Hagar had heard of God's promised blessing for her son. Can you imagine the shock and relief of this frightened mama?
Gen. 21:19-21 – “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.”
  • God opened Hagar's eyes to a well that was already there. God honed skills Ishmael already had, making the boy a great archer. And then God provided Ishmael a wife from Egypt, his mother's homeland – probably a family Hagar already knew. So often the Spirit provides our salvation from sources already in front of us – sources we couldn't see until we've been hurt by holiness.
Lord, it's hard to take a stand for holiness, when it hurts someone. It's hard to bear the pain of holiness and remain teachable and loving. Help me to trust You enough to obey You – even when it hurts…me and others. Secure my grip in Your hand. Lead me all the way down the path to the end of human answers, where I find the salvation of Your Spirit for every hurt.

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