Monday, February 22, 2010

SLIP-SLIDING AWAY

video
The funniest thing about this video is that someone is sitting in a cozy house watching the whole thing, and the poor schmuck in the minivan has no idea their traumatic event is being captured on youtube for eternity!

Have you ever been the poor schmuck in the minivan and felt the world shift into a sort of instantaneous slow-motion? At the first sign of a skid, your mind has time to think, I’m losing control. Can I steer out of the slide? Right or left? Should I apply the brakes? No way! I wonder if I’m going to roll my car, hit another vehicle, walk away unharmed? Maybe I’m going to die today. Shucks, I was looking forward to lunch. Now, in my experience, at this point, your car has inevitably stopped its erratic journey into whatever ditch or immovable object awaited. And then – silence. Squealing tires cease. Screaming (probably your own) stops.

I know this process well because I've done it twice as a driver and once as a passenger. To be honest, the passenger experience was a much calmer ride. It was midnight on Christmas Eve, and Roy was driving. We were traveling from our home in northern Indiana to his folks' house in Indianapolis (3 hours away) in a blinding snowstorm. There we were, the only minivan on a deserted state road at midnight – without any tracks to show us where the road curved. When the slide started, our van went sideways down a slight embankment. Hmmm, probably going into a cornfield, I thought. Snow was flying. Around we go. I wonder if the snow will cover up the van completely. Sure am glad we have blankets. Still sliding. I’ll bet we’ll have to go to the bathroom out here in this stupid field. Finally, we stopped. Roy and I looked back at our two daughters, their eyes as big as saucer sleds. “Are we going to starve to death before someone finds us out here?” one of the girls asked. Guess we know what she was thinking. What do you think when your life begins to take a slide? Do you think Isaac might have felt like this when his life was beginning to slide out of control...

Gen. 25:1-6 – “Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Asshurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah. Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.”
  • God told Abraham that Isaac was to be his son of Promise. So why did Abraham take another wife and have other children? Scripture never records WHEN Abraham made this fateful decision or WHY. Nor does it record Isaac's reaction to his father's marriage or the “gifts” Abraham gave to Keturah's sons. How would you feel knowing you were God's first choice, but not your father's? Did Isaac feel his life was beginning to slide out of control?
Gen. 25:7-11 – “Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. After Abraham's death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.” (emphasis added)
  • During this time in history, people were buried the same day they died. That means Ishmael and Isaac must have already been with Abraham or at least have been within a day's camel-ride of Machpelah. Remember, no quick flights on El-Al or Lufthansa! And, by the way, when did Ishmael ride back into the picture? Imagine what Isaac felt when his long-lost older brother arrived at Father Abraham's death-bed. Did he play out every awful scenario during “the slide” or did he wait faithfully for God's blessing to emerge after his father's death?
Gen. 25:12-18 – “This is the account of Abraham's son Ishmael, whom Sarah's maidservant, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham. These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. Altogether, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, as you go toward Asshur. And they lived in hostility toward all their brothers.”
  • The fact that we have a complete record of Ishmael's sons tells us that Isaac was well aware of not only their names but also the locations of their settlements and camps. Notice Ishmael has twelve sons that grow to twelve tribes marked by a penchant toward violence. Imagine Isaac (age 75), standing with his two sons (approx. 15 years-old) and Rebekah at Abraham's grave. Beside them – behind them – all around them...the twelve hostile Ishmaelite tribes. Would you fear for your children's inheritance? Their lives? Are you feeling Isaac's slide turn into a spin?
Gen. 25:19-23 – “This is the account of Abraham's son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, 'Why is this happening to me?' So she went to inquire of the LORD. The LORD said to her, 'Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.'” (emphasis added)
  • Wife barren! Sliding, spinning out of control! What does Isaac do? He prays...on behalf of his barren wife. YOU GO, MAN! And what does Rebekah do when pregnancy turns out to be not as fun as she anticipated? She prays. YOU GO, WOMAN! Slide stops. All is silent. And then what does God do, when a hormonal, hurting, woman prays? He answers HER, speaks to HER. YOU GO, GOD!
Lord, in the midst of a slide, my focus is too often on the whirling earthly things around me. The betrayals, disappointments and fears are exhausting; and quite frankly, terrifying. Help me to close my eyes and focus on You instead of my circumstances.

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