Genesis 20-25.
    How does God deal with his children? How does he interact with his friends and partners? We’re about to get three incredible stories that show real life testimonies of intimacy, provision, and blessing. They are shocking. Bewildering. Inspiring. Mysterious. The most important thing to remember is that they are real. Let’s hear these stories from the main character’s point of view…
     I’m done. It’s over. Why does this always happen to me? Why does God hate me? The questions didn’t stop their incessant pounding in my mind. I wanted to collapse, I wanted to cry, I wanted to be deaf. Ishmael kept crying. If you can call a heart breaking croak a cry. I lifted my hand and shield my eyes from the burning sun. In vain, I searched the horizon for a sign of water. Something green, something living. But all I could see was mountains of sand. Right then and there I gave up. I put Ishmael down by a shriveled up shrub. I walked a little distance away and sat down. I look down at myself and began to sob. All the memories came back and collapsed on top of me. The days I had nothing but a job. The day I became pregnant. The day I ran away. The day I had Ishmael. And then, this morning. My master and the father of my son came to me with some bread, cheese, and a skin of water. He tried to hide his tears but I wasn’t blind. What he said gave me a sick feeling of nausea, and I had to sit down. He looked down and repeated his words. You have to go. You must take our son away. He grab the bundle of food and water and set it on my shoulders. Hagar, you have to go. Now. That last word came out with a crack. I could barely breathe, the fear and rejection was more than I could bare. Immediately I looked to my left where my beautiful baby sat. He looked at me and asked me why Papa had given me the bundle and if it was for him. I nodded. I somehow whispered baby, we’re taking a trip. At first he smiled. But then he looked at Abraham and stopped. He could see the pain in his father’s eyes. The next thing I knew, I was standing and beckoning to Ishmael. He came and grabbed my hand without a word. Then I looked at the man to my right. My son’s father. He was not my husband. Anger and disgust boiled up in me. How can he be a man? How can he be my son’s father? He can’t even say no to his wife…he’s a—Then he touched my shoulder. He simply said: Ishmael will be the father of a mighty nation. Yahweh has promised. Do not be afraid. I listened. Then I turned and walked away. And now here I was. I screamed. I cannot watch him die!! I screamed and sobbed and screamed some more. I briefly remembered the day I ran away when I was pregnant and I heard a voice and saw the wildest being I had ever seen. I remembered some of His words. But now I hated the fact I had been saved that day. If Yahweh had let me die then, I wouldn’t have to watch my son die. Finally I was to hoarse to scream. I closed my eyes. Suddenly I heard a whisper behind me. I turned around, terrified that someone had found me. But there was no one behind me. I heard the whisper to my left and I whipped around. Still no person to be seen. I closed my eyes and focused all my concentration on listening. And then I heard that beautiful soothing voice of God. He spoke almost in a melody and he said: What is the matter my daughter Hagar? Do not be afraid; your Father 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. I couldn’t bare it any longer, I opened my eyes. All of a sudden I saw it! Straight in front of me was a well of water. I ran as fast I could and I reached the well. Before I dipped my fingers in the cold water that filled the already drawn bucket, I turned around. Still nobody. I smiled. Thank you Yahweh. I trust you. A thought popped into my head, Yahweh, did you bring me here in order to show me your love? I felt it.
Father? It didn’t register in my mind that someone was saying this word. Father?! Again and louder. I looked behind me and saw my son. Instantly, the thoughts joined hands and thrust their weight on my chest. I thought for a second that I would fall. I even wished I did. But no, I answered little Isaac. Yes, my son? I heard myself say. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and a slight wrinkling of his brow. Father, the fire and the wood are here but where is the lamb for the burnt offering? I turned back to the path and tried to steady my walk. Only yesterday at the evening sacrifice had I heard the most dreadful word come to me from Yahweh. Even now a voice broke into my thoughts, did God really say… I quickly opened my mouth and stammered my reply. I said all I knew to be true: God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son. Without another word we continued up the mountain. I had heard the voice of God more times than I could count. It seemed almost everyday he spoke something to me in some way. But never had I heard him say something so terrifying as I had yesterday. I loved my son so much it burned in my chest every single moment. And Yahweh knew that. Still I had to obey. Never before did I wrestle like I had last night. Every single second felt like eternity as my thoughts battled each other in an struggle to escape the journey I was now on. This morning was no different. So I made a decision. I decided to trust Yahweh. I had tried to understand him. I had tried to reason with him. I had tried to ignore his voice. I had even tried to analyze how he could still fulfill his promise without Isaac. But by the morning of the ascent I simply gave up. I decided to trust Yahweh. And move one foot in front of the other. Two hours later, and I was on my knees weeping. I rocked back and forth as I gazed through blurry eyes upon the burning flesh on top of the altar. To my left knelt Isaac. He looked at me and smiled. I looked up and smiled. You provided. That’s all. I trusted you and you provided. I found within me a powerful feeling of love rising in my heart. It was Yahweh’s love. Could it be that he tested my love in order to show me his own love? I could feel it.

I watched. That was all I had to do. Watch. I watched her lower her bucket by the rope into the well. I watched her strain to pull it up and I watched her carefully carry it to my camels. I watched her and I smiled. It was her smile that caused me to smile. She had no idea what was going to happen and she didn’t seem to care. Ha! I looked up. Is this the way my master felt when he would take me aside and tell me we were moving camp because, well, because God said. Slightly crazy, and more than slightly amused. I had never seen anything like this. Just minutes, literally minutes, ago I had prayed a prayer. I made a deal with God, I asked him for a sign. And now I was standing in front of this sign smiling like an idiot. Finally the girl stopped, set her bucket down, patted my camel, brushed her hair out of her eyes and walked towards me with that smile still shining on her face. I quickly grabbed my composure and donned it. I pulled out a nose ring and two gold bracelets and gave them to the maiden. I dipped my head and asked her who she was. I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son the Milkah bore to Nahor, she said. Immediately, a deep emotion that had been stuck deep within my bones welled up and all I could do was fall on my knees. Yahweh, Yahweh, who am I that you should bless me so? I am just a servant but here! Here you have served me! My heart blesses your name and my tongue will not be quiet! You have personally led me. I continued on and suddenly remembered I was still in front of the young lady. Sheepishly I opened my eyes. There she was just smiling at me. I got up and followed her to her family’s house. As I went, all I could say was: thank you Yahweh. I now know you are not only the Most High but the Most Involved. You spin stars but you also join hearts. I know you love me and from now on I will trust you.

God’s promises are true. And he is always working them to fulfillment. Let’s trust and obey. What do we have to lose? What we have to gain is the personal involvement of the Jesus Christ himself. Hagar, Abraham, and Eleazer would say it’s worth it.