Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ishmael

I can't believe that I am up this late! This is crazy! Tomorrow morning is going to be tough. I need to get back to going to bed earlier. However, staying up later has given me and my the opportunity to have some quality time together. I have enjoyed our time together. There is something to be said for nearness.

I am still trying to get the hang of this blogging stuff. My original plan was to use it as kind of a journal for my weird and interesting thoughts. Then I thought about perhaps using it as an accountability tool for Bible study. My idea was to be consistent in whatever format I decided to pursue. So, far the only thing that I have been consistent about is being inconsistent. Because things like this can grate on my nerves. My wife has been encouraging me to not make a big deal out of it and just write what I am thinking about. This could be dangerous!

I recently read chapters 12 through 21 of Genesis. I wonder how Ishmael felt as he and his mother were being turned away from his father, Abraham's house. Was he sad, angry, confused? Who did he blame, if anyone? What was it like for Hagar to confront single parenthood in a desert environment with her son and "some food and a bottle of water" (NIV) (talk about child support) and a promise from God that a nation would come from Ishmael. To Hagar that promise probably seemed about as real as me owning a private jet. I'm a Social Worker! I wonder if Abraham secretly or maybe even publicly mourned for his oldest son. I wonder how Sarah responded to Abraham's heartache.

Imagine being 14 years old and having to face a situation like Ishmael's. What must that have been like to look into your father's eyes and have him tell you to leave. How many times did Ishmael look back that day? How many times over the next few months or years did Ishmael look toward the horizon hoping to see his Daddy? How many times did Ishmael wake up from a time of rest and hope that it was all a dream or some misunderstanding? How would you have responded?

So, what can we learn from this passage of scripture

1. Hold on to God's promises: God promised Abraham land and possessions (done), God promised Abraham a child born of him and Sarah (done), God promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky (done). God promised a Savior who would never leave you or forsake you (done). Additionally, in most instances, God's timetable is usually not what we would like for it to be.
2. God's way is always the best way. God promised Abraham and Sarah a child. Like most of us, they looked at their situation, had some doubts, and tried to help God out, thus creating the situation with Hagar and Ishmael.
3. God is always ready to offer his grace and mercy when we make a mess of things. Though Sarah and Abraham took things into their own hands with Ishmael, God recognizes Ishmael as Abraham's son and does not forsake him. God promises to bless Ishmael's people.

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