In God's Time and Timing (Part 4 Isaac and Rebekah)
After the festive one night, Abraham's servant is ready to go back to Isaac with Rebekah. It had been an interesting series of developments where he had asked God for a sign, and Rebekah fulfilled the sign of hospitality. Laban who wanted an extension of the blessing also tried to prime up the hospitality, but the servant focused on God's assignment for him in Abraham. The journey of going home was about to begin, but there was an interesting request recorded in the Bible by Rebekah's family:
Genesis 24:54b-55 When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.” But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.”
It did sound like a reasonable request, if you think about it. It all happened so fast - an afternoon where Rebekah brought back Abraham's servant and that was to be the last night with the family. Ten days to spend with the family sounded like a fair request by the mother and Laban.
But listen to how Abraham's servant replied:
Genesis 24:56 But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.”
This must have been an awkward thing to say after receiving hospitality from the family. "Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master."
It is interesting that if we were to be careful study the servant's reply, we continue to see some of the servant's consistent character. He still kept his focus on God's mission and didn't move only by his own timing or the timing that others imposed. He kept pace with God, and in this manner he was also faithful to Abraham, not seeking to prolong the wait of his master. Surely this was not because Laban's household had poor hospitality that the man was eager to leave, however, he explicitly stood with God and his commitment to Abraham.
If we were in the servant's shoes, perhaps we could be tempted to entertain that thought of staying a bit longer. Thoughts of a well-deserved break with all-expenses paid would have been an easy fantasy. However, if we were also as faithful as the servant was, then we would seek to return to our duty rather than attend to our own luxury.
The mother and Laban try one last attempt, appealing to Rebekah to make the call. Surely if she said "give me 10 days," the servant would not be able to do anything short of kidnapping her?
Genesis 24:57-58 Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said.
And here is the greatest account that the servant must have shared with Isaac as he relayed all that has happened. It is clear that the woman Rebekah made a choice, and this choice must been born out of a lot of faith in the servant's story and integrity. Instead of saying, "what about 5 days?", Rebekah said, "I will go."
The story of finding Rebekah ends with Isaac meeting her finally and marrying her after the servant's long account of the journey of finding Rebekah. Isaac would have heard of the sign, of the faithfulness of God, of the focus of he servant, and of Rebekah making taking that step of faith.
To recap our 4 part series, we talked about seeking God's choice and going the extra mile for hospitality. We talked about God's faithfulness that often surprises us as we put our trust in him. We explored what it means to have undistracted focus in God's mission for us. Today we conclude with honoring God's timing.
There are two extremes we must avoid with God's timing:
Going Faster than God's Pace Often in our impatience we rush through many of the ministries God calls us to do. We look forward to the end of it, without taking the pauses needed to reflect and pray. Here the servant of Abraham was not in a hurry. He could have rushed to just ask for the household of Abraham in the town and missed so much of what God would have in store. Instead, he kept pace with God by involving God in the key pivotal points of making his decisions. In our lives, how often have we sought the LORD when we were applying for a job we will work in or a school we will enroll to? How have we involved God in seeking what kind of family we will be building? If the answers to these questions show us the absence of God's involvement, let us commit to spend time to slow down and allow God to reveal His choice for us.
Going Slower than God's Pace When God's plan and timing are revealed, we must keep in step with God's timing. We may say, why not later, there are other important things I must do. I can answer God's calling in my life much later when I am 'more ready'. In Matthew 8:21-22, Jesus shares this principle:
Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
When God is on the move, let us trust in His timing. God knows that our families are important. God knows our finances and our needs are to be met. God is more than prepared for us. When He says go, we go! When we try to slow down God's mission, we will often find ourselves needing to give ourselves permission to choose to follow God. My dear brother and sister, honor God by making that choice to be with the Lord, for His timing is perfect. God is like a master director who has already ensured that what is needed has already been placed as divine appointments along the way. Will we submit then to His perfect plan?
So if there is any conclusion we may draw from our reflections from Isaac and Rebekah's story, let us find time to apply it in our own situation in life. How involved is God in our decision making? And for those of us who have already heard the call of the Lord either to a ministry or to follow him in a certain way, do not delay! For any delay postpones or even removes the joy God has set in the time that follows perfect and timely obedience.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for the story of Abraham's servant who kept in pace with your time and your timing. Help us LORD also discern your time and timing in our own lives that we may keep in step with you. Grant us the grace of faith to trust in You, even when pressures around us may call us to compromise. In Jesus' Name we pray, Amen.
Hungry Chaplain P.S. Notes:
It was to my surprise to find out that Ukraine has one of the highest percentage (if not the highest) of their population who are Christians. To hear how many have chosen to take a stand for their country now is both inspiring and depressing once we see how in someway they seem to be standing alone. It feels like the many battle narratives of The LORD of the Rings, where Theoden or Gondor had faced great evil at their gates. It is my hope and prayer that much of our brothers and sisters in Russia and Ukraine will stand and do God's work in the face of great violence. I believe in the hour of greatest horror will we also find the hour of God's greatest grace!
It is sad to hear of what is happening now in the world stage where politics, treaties, and fear hold control of the narrative. In a somewhat naïve way, I believe there is a spiritual narrative that also must be won in this war. John Stuart Mill once said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Omission is also a choice. Fear paralyzes us from being able to become those who bring peace. May God grant our leaders wisdom in navigating the path ahead, and also with God's time and timing keep in step with His lead.
Thanks to all who have been reading the reflections and devotions! I do hope they have been a blessing to you in some way! I would love to hear how any of you may have helped a hungry person in the past week! Do share your stories in the comments below, or write me an email should you please :)