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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Trust Issues Part 4: Getting Back to Hagar

First, let me address the issue of my absence. I am a terrible blogger! I'm sure you can relate to the fact that life is busy. Thus, there's been a bit of a lapse in my writing. Apologies to my faithful fluffy folks!

Now, getting back to Hagar. If you recall my first post in this "Trust Issues" series, Hagar had some major trust issues, and she earned every one of them the hard way. (Check out Genesis 16 and my previous post on Hagar for more backstory.) We ended the first account of this young lady in a wilderness meeting where God sought her out and introduced Himself to her. The lost pregnant slave girl met The God Who Sees. The first step in Hagar's faith journey was not about her coming up with the courage to trust God. Instead, it was about God showing Himself to her as trustworthy. What a sweet and precious God we serve!

He didn't ask her to trust Him. He showed her that He is trustworthy and gave her the choice.

Knowing Who God is and that His nature and character are trustworthy is the foundation of a life that truly, fully trusts God.

In the second major account of Hagar in Genesis 21, we see the progression Hagar's faith and her trust taken to the next level. Here's a quick summary:

It's several years later: Hagar's son Ishmael has been born and raised as the first son to Abraham, and Sarah'a son Isaac is being weaned and celebrated as the promised son. A party is thrown for the baby of the family, and Sarah's throws a fit over Ishmael "laughing" at the party. (Side note: ESV translation says laughing; NASB says mocking; can also be translated as playing.) We don't know what he was "laughing" at or with whom, just that Sarah saw him doing it. Sarah demands that Abraham throw Hagar and Ishmael out. Abraham doesn't want to, but God tells him it's okay because He will provide and protect both Hagar and the boy. Interesting, no?

So daddy loads up a canteen with water, grabs some bread, and sends Hagar and her son away. They wander in the wilderness till the canteen runs dry. Hagar gives up hope and prepares to die. She puts her son under a bush and walks away so she won't have to watch him die. God hears the boy crying and calls to Hagar. Here comes the interesting part, in my opinion.

God doesn't show up and reintroduce Himself to Hagar. He told her years ago Who He is. That hasn't changed; He hasn't change. Now comes the time in Hagar's faith journey for God to show her something new: sovereignty and provision. 

Back in Genesis 16:10-12, God gave Hagar a glimpse at what was to come when He told her that he would multiply her offspring. But let's be honest and gracious to Hagar: meeting God for the first time is a little overwhelming, to say the least. She was doing well just to keep her wits long enough to comprehend that God sought her out and introduced Himself to her. Can we really blame her for not remembering that He also told her that her future and that of her son's were secure?

So what does God do in this second encounter? He reminds Hagar that He is also her Sovereign Provider, and in more ways than one!

  1. God provided for Hagar by reminding her of His sovereignty. God did not bump into Hagar in the wilderness again and say, "Oh, dear, fancy seeing you again!" No, in His sovereignty God orchestrated Hagar's wilderness journey so that He could take her trust to a deeper level. He commanded Abraham to send her away: away from her provider, her protected lifestyle, her dependence on anything and everything but God. He did so not because He is a cruel God, but because His provision is so much sweeter and more abundant than anything else! He wanted that for Hagar. God showed the depth of His love and reach of His sovereignty over Hagar, her son, and her circumstances... even over the future itself as He declared that He would make Ishmael into a great nation. I think it's safe to say that Hagar would not have been able to hear such a lesson in the midst of a party being thrown for a little boy. She needed to be cast out, left alone, and stripped of everything she held dear so that she could finally hear what God told her years before. He is sovereign over EVERYTHING!

  2. God provided for Hagar right where she was, in her immediacy. In that moment, Hagar's water had literally run dry. (Any Boyz II Men fans out there having the song play through their heads right now? Me, too... "Let's don't till the water runs dry--ee--iiiee.") Her canteen was empty and she was lost. All she could see was her own hopelessness. Instead, God, "opened her eyes and she saw a well." Isn't that often the case? We get so wrapped up in the circumstance where we're standing that we fail to look ahead 10 feet down to road and see that God has already made a way for us! God proved Himself trustworthy yet again by stripping every earthly provider from Hagar's life so that He could be her abundant provision. 
I can't help myself. I have to include a link to
Boyz II Men's "Water Runs Dry."
A string orchestra in the desert?
Yes, please! Abundance! Enjoy!
It wasn't until God got Hagar alone and in full recognition of her need for Him that Hagar was finally ready to trust The God Who Sees to be the Provider in her life. What did she do in response? She trusted Him: "And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink."

In this the fourth and final post in my "Trust Issues" series, let me recap what God has taught me this year about trusting Him:
  • The first step in truly trusting God is knowing Who He is and that He is trustworthy:
  • Step two is accepting His sovereignty and letting Him be the Provider that He is:
    • His sovereignty and provision are in place for direction in our lives. We need only to follow Him home and take part in His abundance. (Trust Issues Part 3)
    • He longs to be our EVERYTHING and provide for our future and our now. Let Him! (This post.)
The exciting part about this recap is the fact that I know step three is next! I don't know what it is, but I know that trusting God with my whole heart is an everyday, every minute, every second, lifelong adventure in intimacy with my great King! 

Where are you in your trust adventure with God? If you are still learning Who He is, pick a characteristic trait or name of God from the Bible and seek to know that aspect of Him. He will show Himself to you!

If you are being tossed about by life's circumstances, adjust your thinking to and eyesight to recognize God the Wind Blower and look to find out what He is really up to.

If you are depending on a person, a circumstance, a lifestyle, or even yourself as your provision and security, step back and recognize the true Provider in your life. Seek Him out first in your time of need to provide for you, rather than run to your own "source." Only when provision is from the great Provider will you know the depth of His abundant life for you.

Trust Him, my fluffy friends, for He alone is trustworthy!

Faithfully, fluffully His,