Don’t skip the mess…

Gobstopping GraceIn case you don’t yet know it, there is a whole lot of ugly in the Bible.

When you think about it, it’s a wonder there are many children’s stories to teach from the Old Testament.Bible stories

Try explaining the story of Abram, Sarai and Hagar from Genesis 16 to your children without mincing words. In fact, I would encourage you to:

God made a promise to Abram.

It seemed impossible. God told Abram that he and his wife Sarai would have a baby. But they were already as old as your grandparents. Maybe even your great-grandparents!

Abram and his wife Sarai waited a very long time for God to keep His promise. Finally Sarai had an idea! She thought, “Maybe God wants me to help!”

So Sarai asked Abram to marry her maid Hagar so that Hagar could have a baby instead. That wasn’t nearly as weird then as it is now. People did that then.

But it wasn’t God’s plan.

When we don’t follow God’s plan, things get messy.

Sure enough, Hagar got pregnant. She began to act like she was better than Sarai. That made Sarai angry and she wasn’t very nice to Hagar.

She also got mad at Abram. That didn’t make much sense but when we try to do God’s job, we don’t always make much sense.

Abram told Sarai she could do whatever she wanted about Hagar so Hagar ran away before she had her baby.

See, not so bad.

Lesson: God has a plan. Good people do bad things. Sometimes we mess up God’s plan.

But don’t leave out the best part.

If you ran away from home, your mom and dad would come looking for you. That’s what God did.

When Hagar was sitting out in the wilderness, God went after her. He loved her. He told her He knew that she was sad and scared but that she needed to go back home. He told her that her baby would be very special.

Hagar knew that God had come after her because He saw her problems. She said, “You are the God Who Sees.”

She knew God cared for her.

It’s a really good story. Lesson: Sometimes life is a little like a paper towel commercial. Life is messy. When we let Him, God cleans it up.

Sarai and Abram made up. We see testimony of their faith in Hebrews 11 and testimony to their relationship in 1 Peter 3.

But what about poor Hagar?

I can’t completely blame her for being a little smirkish. She went from servant to wife of a very wealthy man and pregnant with his child. A little like winning Homecoming Queen over the head cheerleader. But the situation wasn’t pretty.

So eventually she ran.

Homeless and pregnant, life was a big, fat mess. As is usually the case, some of that mess was caused by others and she brought some of it on herself.

But here’s the beautiful part. (Don’t forget to share this with your kids and don’t miss out on it for yourself.)

“The Angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.”

See, if we ignore why she ran, we negate the fact that God found her.

Wherever the mess of life has taken you, whatever you are running from, God is seeking you out.

“And He said, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ She said, ‘I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.'”
Why are you running?

Ashamed“And the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked…'” (Genesis 3:9-10)

Afraid“And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here Elijah?’ So he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts…they seek to take my life.‘” (1 Kings 19:9-10)

He called Hagar by name. He called her by position. He gave her a chance to answer.

Are you running? Do you know why? Are you afraid? Ashamed?

God knows who you are, where you are and who He has called you to be.

He is calling out to you.

“The Angel of the LORD said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.'”

Sometimes God calls us out of situations and on to new ones. In Hagar’s situation, He told her to return. While it was uncomfortable, it was one that was for her greater good.

He had a plan.

The chance of Hagar and her child surviving childbirth alone in the wilderness wasn’t very high. God not only promised her survival, He promised her a future.

“Then the Angel of the LORD said to her, ‘I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.'”

We flee.

God pursues.

We return.

He multiplies. Exceedingly. More than we can count or imagine.

“Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

“‘Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son, you shall call his name Ishmael*. Because the LORD has heard your affliction.'”

*Ishmael: “God hears.”

We run. God pursues.

We cry. God hears.

You cannot run so far that God will not seek you. You cannot cry so softly that God will not hear you. You cannot sin so much that the grace of God will not redeem you.

The Angel of the Lord described what her son would be like.  She didn’t blink an eye at His description “He shall be a wild man…” She went straight to recognition of the magnificent grace of God.

“Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’ Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi*…”

*Well of the One Who Lives and Sees MeGod-Who-Sees

I don’t know about you, but that’s a well I want to drink from every day.

But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.'” (John 4:14)

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.'” (John 7:37)

Here’s one more thing for you: Throughout this passage, reference is made to the Angel of the LORD. When you see LORD in all capitals in the Bible, it is God’s Hebrew name Yahweh. One easy-to-remember definition of Yahweh is that it emphasizes His position as  “Covenant Maker and Covenant Keeper. Yahweh

The same God who made a covenant with Abraham, pursued a runaway servant and made a promise to her in the middle of the wilderness. “Hagar, the Covenant Maker and Covenant Keeper has heard your cry and you are going to have a son. His descendants will be too many to count.”

A pregnant runaway servant, second wife and castaway,  was seen by Almighty God, The Covenant Maker and Covenant Keeper.

Don’t skip over the messy parts of the Bible.

That’s where God’s gobstopping grace shines through.

 

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Angela

A recovered prodigal and expert breeder of dustbunnies, I'm a wife and a mother who just wants to live all-out, whole-heartedly, full-tilt boogie for Jesus. Living life with abandon combined with the daily regimens of life can be hard - that's where grace comes in. Oh, I love the balance of grace.
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Angela

A recovered prodigal and expert breeder of dustbunnies, I'm a wife and a mother who just wants to live all-out, whole-heartedly, full-tilt boogie for Jesus. Living life with abandon combined with the daily regimens of life can be hard - that's where grace comes in. Oh, I love the balance of grace.

22 thoughts on “Don’t skip the mess…”

  1. Thanks for this study Angela. The lesson still applies today – when we go ahead of God and do it our way, serious consequences come about. But God somehow uses them in His way, for the benefit of His will. The consequences are and will be felt as God uses the lineage of Hagar against the West, but again, according to His will for His end time purposes. It is just His way of using any negative, turning them into a positive for His will. (even when we don’t always think so)

    1. You are absolutely right! All works into His Master Plan, much of which will not be apparent in this life. And when we turn our mess over to Him, He works in us to “give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3)
      Thank you for sharing! So glad you stopped by.

  2. Angela, So nice to meet you. I used to find myself running ahead of God so often; I didn’t understand the danger until much later. Of course then you see the consequences when it is much too late. That has become one of my foundational verses now. One I try to live my life by.

  3. Hi Angela! It’s in the messy parts of the Bible that I seem to relate the most! God is so very faithful! I just love your sweet spirit and heart for the Lord! Blessings to you friend! 🙂

    1. Thanks Danise. I am convinced that we have to quit prettying everyone up to confirm that the Bible is right in portraying them as a hero. When we see the mess, we quit feeling ruined and start feeling redeemed. (Ooh, remind me to write that down somewhere!)
      I’m glad you stopped by and am looking forward to your book Fulfilled this August!

  4. Hi Angela! Hagar’s story is amazing, isn’t it? God knew where she was. Just last week I heard an amazing story about a Turkish girl, atheist, who had run away from her family. She spent the night in a park, and when she woke up in the morning, an older woman walked up to her and gave her some Christian books. (strange for a 99% Muslim country.) Come to find out, that older woman had been praying and God TOLD HER to go to so and so park, so she did. He told her what side of the park to go to, and when she saw the girl, she knew why God had sent her. The girl has come to faith because no one in her family could find her, but God knew where she was! (sorry about the book, here…)

    1. Thank you for sharing that! Love, love, love that story!! If it is okay with you, I’d really like to share it with a friend who is doing a study on Hagar. We could even leave out the name of the country if necessary. That was such a beautiful illustration.

  5. I love the way you told the story of Hagar! It really is a beautiful picture of how God pursues us and cares for us. You have told it in such a way that children can really understand it, and you’ve done a marvelous job. We need more like it and not be afraid to teach children even through the messiness of people’s lives. I found your post at #WordswithWinter.

    1. Thank you so much! I don’t think I had ever looked at the story quite that way until I wrote about it. Pursued by God – what a glorious position to be in! So glad you stopped by!

  6. Beautiful, thought provoking post. Thank you so much! I loved the ‘click to Tweet’ and when you wrote: Sometimes life is a little like a paper towel commercial. Life is messy. When we let Him, God cleans it up. Great analogy and it gave me a good smile! 🙂

    1. I just couldn’t resist! Every time I hear “Life is messy…” my mind completes it! Thanks for stopping by Stacey!

  7. This post has really been a blessing. I’m in a very messy season of life right now, thanks to choices made by others (and my own choice to not run away from the mess). These words here have really ministered to me – thank you! Nice to “meet” you on Twitter yesterday. 🙂 Blessings!

    1. I’m so glad this meant something to you. Hang in there. We have a God who sees and a God who hears! I’m glad we were able to connect. Thank you for stopping by!

  8. I like your style of telling a story… but a very messy one that you told about Lot and his daughters is very hard to share with a child. Parts of those stories I would have to save for adolescents and even then. It’s rough reading, but still a good book. It’s about real life. Good job Angela… GOD bless you.

    1. Tunya, I think we do have to have some wisdom. I doubt there are many situations in which one would want to share a story of incest with a grade-schooler. But so often we either don’t tell our kids the bad part of the lives of Biblical characters or we whitewash them. In doing so, we either diminish the grace or diminish the sin. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I always appreciate your thoughtful input and encouragement.

  9. Loved your post on Don’t skip the mess, there is a lot of ugly in the Bible, but that is what gives us hope!! If they survived we can too. 🙂 – I especially loved these quotes from you : when we don’t follow Gods plans – things get messy – so, so true And this one: Lesson: Sometimes life is a little like a paper towel commercial. Life is messy. When we let Him, God cleans it up. God bless you – stopping by from Me, Coffee, & Jesus

    1. Thank you Debbie! The importance of not glossing over stuff has really hit me lately. Thanks for coming by! (I kind of liked the paper towel thing myself! I just couldn’t resist!

  10. Angela loved reading your story on Hagar and love that tweet. I’m stopping by to visit as you stopped by and left a comment on my Hagar post some time back and I just found it today in God’s timing.

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