A good idea or a God idea – how can we possibly know the difference?
Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. Genesis 24:1
Really? the Lord has blessed him in every way? His beloved wife Sarah had just died and left him alone. He was still travelling with no land of his own – he had to plead for and buy a cave and a field to bury his wife in. And yet he is able to say that the Lord had blessed him in every way.
How quick we often are to grumble. It’s hardwired into our nature it seems. We often give far more weight and importance to negative thoughts and events than the positive that is to be seen all around us all of the time if we just open our eyes. It is good to count our blessings as many found on Facebook a few weeks ago when they had to write three positive things a day for a week. Maybe we should do this everyday for the rest of our lives – an attitude of gratitude really does change a life.
Back to Abraham. He decides it is time to find a wife for Isaac from among his own people and sends his servant on a mission. How will the servant know which girl is the right girl to choose? He asks God for a sign. I have always struggled with this, struggled with the whole area of God’s guidance. How do we make the right choice? How do we choose the right partner, job, friends….? I have met many people over the years who have been convinced that God has told them clearly to do something – and have even written it on a job application! – and others who have stopped me doing things because they deem what I am suggesting to be a good idea rather than a God idea. There have been occasions where I have felt an internal prompting to do something or say something…..sometimes this has turned out to seem to be perfect timing; others not so much. My head is bursting with ideas and new ventures every single day and to be honest, I would be driven insane if I had to test each one to see if it’s God’s will or not. Well, I do test each one I suppose – I run with some and some are great and some are not. Some lose momentum; others are forgotten before bedtime. I believe all good things come from God so therefore all good ideas are God ideas! My prayer is always just ‘Your will be done’ and then I trust that God will stop me doing anything He really does not want me to do…..
The biggest decision we ever made was to adopt Jordan and Nicola, to go from three children to five – we prayed about it and sought God’s will and asked advice from those we respected. God allowed us to adopt these two beautiful fragile little children….and within days, I was on knees in tears feeling that we had taken on too much and that I could not cope and would not be able to do it. Nicola was eleven months when she came and was so angry that she would bang her head on the wooden floor and would pull the hair of any child who came near her. Jordan was only twenty one months and was not overjoyed at now having to share his space. Luke and Keir and Courtney had to cope with the massive upheaval and a mum who was not coping well with the basics of getting them ready for school and getting a meal on the table. Had we heard God wrong? Were we doing the right thing?
Over ten years on, I still ask myself all those questions. Our family life has brought us joy, but much more hard work and tears and anxieties and stresses than I ever imagined. I worry that I have expected too much of my birth children. I worry that I have not done enough for my adopted children. I worry that Andy and I will not be able to survive as a couple as so much is there to drive a wedge between us every single day.
And yet we are still here. God has proved faithful. ‘By the grace of God we will carry on.’ We made a decision and God has walked with us. Who knows if it was the right decision? It’s not even worth agonising over that. It is what it is and God is walking with us.
Anyway, Abraham’s servant asks for a particular sign and he gets it and Rebekah is chosen as a wife for Isaac. These words of Abraham to his servant could apply to me and my chaotic family and you in your situation –
The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success…. Genesis 24:40
Of course, we in the West struggle with the whole concept of arranged marriage and hear about all the awful stories that still happen all over the world today. We need to understand the context and the culture to understand the practice. We in the West are hardly great advocates for the joys of marrying for love – how long do most of those marriages last? This is not a debate I wish to get into – sorry for dodging the issue and moving on.
And all’s well that ends well. This story culminates in love at first sight and the last line of the chapter is –
And Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. Genesis 24:67
Now that his mother was gone and his father was well advanced in years, Isaac needed to start building a life for himself. It was now his time.
The journey moves on…..