Friday, July 10, 2015

All Things New: Sarah, the Unhoped-for Road, part 2

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

In my reader's mind, I see Abraham returning from the interaction with God recorded in Genesis 17 differently than any of the others.  God had renewed both the covenant and the promise, and he now understood that God was not finished with him yet; God had more in store for Abraham  than he had ever imagined.  Striding into the compound of tents, he calls for the men to assemble. 'Go find them!'  He instructs his household servants to collect the herdsmen from the pastures and the servants from the fields. 'I need every man and boy who belongs to me!'  Then he turns to find his wife.  He finds her in her place, tending to the business of the household.  There is something different in the way he looks at her, and she notices.  Something stirs in her spirit that had lain dead for years and years and years, something that brought a glimpse of youth and virility and desire that she had long forgotten.  He smiles and takes her face in his hands and says for her ears alone, 'Sarai -- the Lord says you are Sarah, His princess, and you are part of His promise.'  In an American telling of the tale, there would be a passionate kiss at that point, but I think Abraham had other things on his mind at the moment and after sharing that tidbit gets to the business at hand. 'I need every knife we have...and I need them to be as sharp as we can get them as quickly as we can get them.  I have heard from El-Shaddai!'

Sarah would have heard the declaration before his assembled household...that God had changed Abram's name to Abraham and Sarai would now be Sarah;  the ordeal the men  and boys were about to undergo had been declared by God to distinguish Abraham and his descendants from all other people groups from that time on.

Who actually wielded those knives, what kind of pain relief or follow up care they would have had available to them is beyond my knowledge. The women of the household may actually have had very little involvement in the process...or they may have been holding hands, bringing towels, changing water, sharpening knives...who knows.  It had to have been a trying day for everyone.  But Abraham had God's promise, and he believed that God would do what he said; I rather believe there was a worship service going on the whole time.  It was a smaller scaled version of the event that confirmed the covenant for the whole nation hundreds of years later on the west bank of the Jordan River.

The covenant was in effect.  The promise was coming.  A nation  and a people to be God's own.

But at this point, Sarah was cleaning and cleaning and cleaning again.  And trying to get used to her new name.

I don't think Abraham had passed along the rest of the word concerning her.  For when Abraham's heavenly guests arrived shortly afterward, and Abraham was told once more, this time within Sarah's hearing, that Sarah would have a son within the next year, she thought it ridiculous and laughed to herself...a disillusioned, derisive laugh, I'm sure.   After all this time and disappointment and the conflicts they'd endured to see the promise come to, it couldn't be so.  

I think if Abraham had told her what God had said, Sarah would've received that as a confirmation and been amazed, perhaps; I don't think her reaction would've been to have scoffed at the news, even privately. But there, in the tent, out of sight and hearing of Abraham and his guests, Sarah heard that ludicrous statement and laughed.

And was terrified when she was called out on it.

Probably in her mind she didn't laugh...that is, she didn't consider that bitter chuckle to be laughter. Not really.  But the Lord not only called her out for laughing, but repeated her thoughts and answered them. 'Is anything too hard for the LORD? ...This time next year, you'll have a son.'

'No,' she insisted, 'I didn't laugh.  Really'

And he replied,  I would almost say tenderly, because here was a lady who had given up on God ever noticing her, 'Oh, yes, you did.'

Here was the paradigm shift for Sarah.  Abraham talked to God.  Hagar had a supernatural word.  But all Sarah had was Abraham's statement that God changed her name...and that was only recently.   But now...God asked for her by name, told her what she thought, answered the questions of her heart, and assured her that, even though she was afraid and disillusioned, her weaknesses were seen and yet did not disqualify her from the promise.

Everything new for Sarah came from that moment, when she could no longer consider herself someone who didn't matter.  God saw her.  He knew her.  And she was part of His plan.

Before God changes circumstances, He changes hearts.  The paradigm shift that needs to happen for so many is to believe that 'God sees and has a plan for ME'.  We find it's relatively easy to believe God speaks to others, acts on behalf of others, but when it comes to believing He would do the same for each of us, individually and personally...we struggle..  Believe we're invisible to Him, or disqualified in some way.  

But He asks for us by name, and will tell what we need to hear, if we will but listen.  He'll even deal with unbelief, if we will give Him the chance.  

What can I do to put myself in the place where I can hear Him call my name?  What question do I need to hear Him answer?  

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