God will make a way….


So, you are the mother of a newborn boy.

After nine months of nurturing this precious creation, he is here. Care of the infant demands all your time. You sleep when he does, are pretty much on your toes constantly, feeding him when he is hungry, ensuring his safety, and that he is healthy and comfortable. The baby is dependent on you and his father for his survival. Your feelings are a mix of fierce love, protectiveness, and wonder at the life that God has brought from the love of your husband and yourself.

Now, let’s throw a monkey-wrench in the mix. You live in a poor and primitive country. There are no Jenny-Lind cribs, diaper-genies, or the local Babies-R-Us to create the perfect nursery theme. You didn’t have a baby shower where your wish list was made possible by your friends and family. You are, instead, a unwanted slave in a land hostile to you. Your son’s life is considered forfeit from the moment he is born.

Righteous midwives help keep your son alive. However, you know the directive of the country’s ruler. All male children are to be killed at birth. If you want him to live, you must hide him. And practically, hiding a newborn is pretty much impossible. You try. But then, the day comes when you can no longer keep him concealed. What do you do?

Moses’s mother prepares a papyrus basket for her son. She plans to set him adrift on the Nile, hoping someone will see and take pity on her child. These days, research describes the seemingly placid Nile as teeming with
“Venomous snakes, aggressive hippopotami, six metre long crocodiles, lethal scorpions and bands of unfriendly locals”(1). At that time, the danger was likely greater.

The act of Moses mother has to be one of true desperation…..or, perhaps faith?

Moses’ sister, Miriam, stands at a distance to see what will happen. She is a realist. Like her mother, she sees no other viable option. At home, the child’s mother waits for provision that can only come from the God of Abraham.

The Egyptian Pharaoh has a daughter who apparently is old enough to have maternal longings. Just as the child floats down the river, the Egyptian princess is coming to the Nile to bathe. She happens to see the baby’s basket, which is lodged in the reeds. She sends one of her slaves to get the basket. She then sees that it is a baby. And that he is crying.

And, she feels compassion.

In this remarkable chain of events, let us add another. She recognizes that the child is a Hebrew baby. Her father has ordered the murder of all Hebrew boys at birth. Yet, the young princess’ heart is not prejudiced. It is instead moved to pity. At this point, the princess could have walked away and left the child to the elements, and not have been thought of badly, even by her own father. Yet, she does not.

Moses is brought out of the water by the slave girl, who ‘just happens’ to be Miriam, the sister who watched him be placed adrift in the water. Miriam suggests that the child be taken to a wet nurse. The Pharaoh’s daughter agrees and consents for a wet-nurse to be brought. And who better than his own mother?

The mother and child have been separated for about a half hour.

The princess pays Moses’ mother to do the job that was already hers. Moses returns to his home, and is kept there, safe, until he is weaned. The Pharaoh’s daughter adopts Moses and makes him a prince.

From here, many events work together to make this abandoned then redeemed child the leader and liberator of the house of Israel. However, we tend to forget the tremendous faith that God used to make such liberation possible.

Hopefully, no one reading this note has ever been in quite as desperate a situation as the mother of Moses. However, some of us have. Some of us have felt every bit as hopeless and helpless. Instead of getting better, we have found that our situation only worsened. So, resources gone, we turn in desperation to what remains. Faith in God.

If you, today, are in a hopeless or desperate situation, I encourage you to look to God for your provision. I will not suggest that he will answer immediately or provide the ‘quick fix’ that some, demanding ‘proof’ of God demand, and then scoff at when he doesn’t follow through. The father of the universe is not a gum-machine, dispensing miracles at the insertion of a demanding or even desperate prayer. However, in his timing, and with often amazing results, he always provides a way for the believer that fits better than anything they could have planned on their own.

Consider again the seemingly random events in the story of Moses. How all the players end up in their needed places at just the right time. The way the hearts of all involved are willing to work together for the good of baby Moses. Hard to believe? This story is only one of many, in and out of the Bible that prove God can work miracles. He regularly makes a way out of helplessness and despair.

It is God’s delight to weave life into the impossible strands of our tangled lives. It is his joy to bring happiness where there was once tears. However, we must be willing to give up attempts at controlling our lives. When we give up trying in our own strength, that is when we encounter God in his infinite power and might. That is where we find hope and redemption when all seems impossible.

If you will, please pray with me: “Lord Father, I give you the impossible situation in my life. I have tried everything I know in my own strength. I give up trying. I leave it to you to work things out. I trust you for the outcome, no matter how long it takes. Send your comfort and wisdom as you work things out for my ultimate good. Give me the wisdom to see that good and to give up more and more of myself for your work in my life. I pray this in your son’s name, Amen.

No matter your situation, I encourage you to never give up on God. You may have your own basket full of things precious to you, ready to put in the Nile of your life, because there is no solution left. I encourage you to give your situation to the God who loves you, who will provide for you, and who will make a way when there is no other way.

Amen

1.Web site “Colors of the Nile.” http://www.niletrip.com/dangers.htm“l
2.all biblical references are from the Celebrate Recovery Bible, NIV version.

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A Guy Like Abraham……


We all know a guy like Abraham.

He is the Rodney Dangerfield of the bible. He gets no respect. Everyone around him seems to be demanding, blaming, or ungrateful.  

Then, there is God, who tells him to leave his home and go off wandering.  Worse still, his wife, Sarai, is barren, and her attempts to resolve this through Haggi, a servant, badly backfire.

Who gets blamed? You guessed it–Abraham.

Abraham also has family problems. His nephew, Lot, the quintessential ‘ne’er do well’ relation, is always in some scrape, usually self created. He is frequently in need of rescue. Then, once he IS rescued, he causes MORE problems!

However, Abram has God’s favor. From him, God has decided to make a nation–even when Abram appears to do everything he can to sabotage God’s plans. Abraham and Sarah travel to famine-struck Negev. From there, they go to Egypt. This is where their problems really begin.

The Egyptian Pharaoh has a large harem of wives. Abram forgets God when the Pharoah asks about adding Sarah to that harem. Abraham tells a half truth saying Sarai is his sister. Sarah is taken to the Pharoah. Somehow, Pharoah finds out the truth. There is a confrontation between him and Abraham, and the couple are sent away.

Next, Abraham and Lot have a property dispute. Abram resolves this by letting Lot have the first choice of property. Lot greedily chooses the (seeming) best land for himself. However, this land turns out to be full of warlike and godless people. Lot is taken into captivity. Once again, Abraham must rescue him.

Shortly after, God reveals part of a bigger plan.  Abram is told that Sarah will give birth to a son, who will produce his descendants. Abram believes him, and this is credited as righteousness. However, for Sarai, it is more difficult.

Even today, it would be hard to believe that a 80 year old woman would concieve. In Sarah’s culture, her worth is based upon her ability to provide a male heir. This affects how she feels about God, but also her faith in God.

Sarai says to Abram: “The Lord has kept me from having any children.” Moreover, she directs Abram to have sex with her maidservant, Hagar.

Oops.

Hagar conceives, and begins to despise Sarai, and shows it. Again, Sarai blames others. She tells Abram “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”

Abram’s response shows that he has not learned from his mistake in Egypt. He evades responsibility. He tells her “Your servant is in your hands…do with her whatever you think best.”

Sarai’s decision would have far-reaching consequences. Haggi’s son, Ishmael, will also be the father of nations, but they will be nations that will oppose the sons of Issac, the child to be born of Abraham and Sarah.

Still God doesn’t disappoint. He visits Abram and Sarah, predicts their son’s birth, and rebukes Sarah when she laughs. And sure enough, Sarah conceives.

While waiting for this blessed birth, Abraham has more problems with Lot. The land in which Lot has settled is about to be destroyed by God because of it’s iniquity. Abraham negotiates with God to spare the land if ten righteous people can be found. God agrees, but can’t find ten such people. Lot delays leaving until he has to be dragged to a safe place. Even then, his wife’s disobedience results in her death. Later, the faithlessness of Lot’s daughters results in another rival nation being born.

By this point in the story, so many people are doing wrong that it is hard to keep score. The resulting chaos is a clear picture of the consequences of trusting in one’s self over God.

Around the same time, another King, Amlimelech, is attracted to Sarah. Abraham, putting fear over faith, again lies about their marital relationship. Amlimelech is warned and confronts Abraham. Again, Abraham blames, evades and totally refuses to ‘man up.’ Amazingly, the King shows the couple mercy and sends them on their way in safety.

Finally, Issac, the promised child is born. And he is the is the light of Abraham’s life. He is the breathing embodiment of God’s faithfulness to Abraham and Sarah.

Then, God asks the unthinkable.

He asks Abraham to sacrifice Issac. For once, with faith, strength and no recorded questions, Abraham is prepared to obey.

Yet, this is not how the story ends. God sends a ram up the other side of the mountain at just the right time. Calls off the sacrifice. Affirms his love for Abraham. The story foreshadows a story of the ultimate sacrifice, the offering up of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We all know a guy like Abraham.

His story represents the best and worst of humanity. In him, we see that the struggles of faith are as old as time. In his story, there is comfort that God wants to hear us and offer solutions.

The story doesn’t end there. Today, God still calls people to step out in faith. To do things that on the surface may seem strange, even crazy. Yet, if such a call is of God, it is my belief that He will also provide assurance and confirmation of the call. Equip us with the strength and gifts to carry out the task. And walk with us every step of the way.

If God, the God of Abraham and Sarah, God of you and me, is calling you today, listen. Confirm it. And then, step out in faith.

Amen.

The Father Who Looks Down the Road….


April 18,

My Son,
Today, you told me that you wanted to leave home. Part of me has always expected this. You were always willful. I admired your spirit. Perhaps encouraged it. Your brother was always so obedient. Sometimes I wished he would be a bit more like you. I admit, I spoiled you, especially after your mother died. Perhaps, I gave you too much. But I loved you, I truly loved you.As you grew older, I saw your stubbornness and quick temper. I worried about you. But I never thought you would leave home. Why would you? In time, you would be part owner of this huge farm. You would never know want or need. Of course, you had dreams of other places, but all young men have dreams. I thought it was just talk.

Today, you bluntly announced your plans. That you wanted your share of your inheritance early. You asked for my blessing, but made it clear that if I withheld it, it would not matter–you would leave regardless.

I wanted to insist you remain here. Do your duty, like your older brother. Return some of the devotion invested in you. My heart feared for you, because you have been protected from the world. The wickedness and greed of the world is something you’ve only heard of, never experienced. You have been taught to fear God. But will you be alright?

I don’t want to let you go. However, today, you gave me no choice.

As I look down the road, the dust still lingers from where you walked away. We embraced one last time. I loaded up provisions for you, perhaps too much. I gave you names of business associates to help you should you run into trouble. I could discern your youthful thoughts….’what is he so worried about? This will be an adventure! How hard could it be?”

And now, you are gone.

I see your beloved footsteps. Reach to gather the dirt which formed them in my hands. I recall the night you were born. How I held you when you were new from your mother’s womb. I felt overpowering love for you. Time passed so quickly, but the love only deepened. And this time, it is my heart that feels birth pains, as I send you forth into the world. I pray that you will soon return, but know that there is no guarantee.

July 21, ………

It has been three months. There has been no word from you. Are you hungry? Are you cold? Are you safe? What do you think about the world you set out to see? I hope for the best, but fear the worst.

Every morning I pray for you. And worry. You like to act confident, but you are your mother’s son, gullible and far too trusting. She had me to protect her. Your open, friendly way with strangers frightens me for you. In sending you off so well prepared, I may have made you the perfect target for a bandit. Would you know how to fight back if someone attacked you?

My sleep is not peaceful. At night, I wonder where you are.  Sometimes, I admire you.  You are doing things that I never dared to do. I was content to stay here, and build a successful farm and business. Only read about the world. You, however, wanted to see it all. Now, you are making your wish come true.

Son, I miss you. When will you come home?

December 27……

I’ll never get used to you being gone, but I am slowly accepting your choice. At times, I am angry. Then, however, I realize that if I had kept you from following your dreams, it would have broken you. This day was coming for years. There was no way to hold onto you. You became a man. Men leave their homes and go out into the world.

There continues to be no word from you. I hope you are having great adventures, experiences that will shape your life. And that someday, you will want to come home. Tell us the wonderful stories of your travels. But, it has been so long, with no news of you.

Where are you, my son?

Some days, I go to the road where your footprints once were. The road goes on, it seems forever, far past where my eyes can see. For me, however, it might as well drop off into some bottomless chasm. You are my son and my longing for you is so great, that at times, it nearly overwhelms me. Every time that the dust rises on the road, I look up, hope it is you coming home. Each time, it is in vain. Your brother tries to comfort me. But he really doesn’t know what to say.

I see him, going back to the fields, working twice as hard. I don’t know how to comfort him, either.

And sometimes, I weep..not just for you, but for him. For all of us.

April 18

It has been a year. Every day, I come out to look for you. Every day, you do not return. I look for you in the face of every visitor. I know you must have changed. Perhaps put on some height and weight. Grown a beard. The travels toughening and tanning your skin. Perhaps, I would not easily recognize you now.

No, you are my son. I would know you.

Still, I look for you. But more and more, I despair. My friends tell me to stop hoping. You must be dead. No one would stay away so long without sending word back. We parted lovingly. There would be no reason to withhold news of your life.

I will never stop looking for you. Will you return to me? My heart fears that you won’t.

(A distant summer………)

Your brother scoffs at my daily habit of coming here, to the road where I last saw you. However, it comforts me. It has been many years now, and I have given up seeing you for the most part, but can’t completely let the hope die. I remember you, so young and idealistic and I hope you are alive and well. I hope…..

There is someone slowly coming up the road, but it can’t be you. From the look of the person it a beggar, with ragged clothes and painful gait, as if he bears the weight of the world. He looks as if he has not eaten in a long time. My heart is moved with compassion.

There is something familiar about this ragged traveler. I cannot see his face, as he stares at the ground and refuses to meet my eyes. I wonder if this man knows you, if he is bringing news……

The stranger looks up. Could it be? Yes! Suddenly, I know! Quickly, quickly, I run to you, my son! Finally, at last, you are HOME!

You tell me your story. Everything was wonderful, at first, but it quickly changed. People liked you while the money and wine were flowing. However, once it was gone, so were they. You tell me of your last job, feeding pigs. How you fought with them for part of their food. I think of my son, the picky eater, who had to be prodded to work. I shake my head in wonder. You ask me for a job as a laborer on the farm. You believe, after all this time, that, having used your inheritance, you have also lost your birthright.

I cannot take my eyes off you. In your travels, you have become a man. Wisdom and sorrow have cut lines into your face. Tears, of remorse, not self pity fill the eyes so like your mother’s. Humility, a quality once foreign to you, is as much a garment for you as the rags that you wear. Perhaps, more so.

You have returned to me.

You are overcome when I order that you be clothed in my best robe. That my servants tend to you as if you never left. You are moved to tears by my repeated embraces. You don’t seem to understand, at first, that the past is behind us.

I will remember it no more.

During the days spent looking down the road, waiting for you, I learned something. I gave you freedom that you used to nearly destroy yourself. Yet, that freedom also gave you a chance to reach for redemption.

And now, you are home.

Welcome home, beloved son. I hope you never again depart. However, if you do, remember, I will look and wait for you. I will always welcome you back, knowing that two hearts so closely knit together can never truly be separated.

Amen