Genesis 24:12-14 Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”
For the next three weeks, we will be looking at the story of Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis 24 in 3 parts, revolving around the food and drink and some simple reflections on their actions. Today's reflection will focus on the sign used by the servant tasked with finding a wife for his master's son.
Pre-reflection Disclaimer: Truth be told, I've never ventured to get a matchmaking service for myself or others, so I wouldn't really be able to do huge comparisons of what the current practice would be like to find the right person. The furthest I've gone in recent years was to use some dating apps on the phone, and well, after a few months of browsing through (and not going for a single date after only chatting with a person twice), (I guess I'm not the most successful matchmaker for myself given my track record. None-the-less, God is good to this hungry chaplain, and I know in His Time, it will be all good :) But do discount some of my comments about matchmaking especially if you have a different angle! I'm here for the theology and the food!)
Now why all this talk about matchmaking? Well in today's story, we have the account of Abraham imploring his senior servant of his household to go back to his hometown and find his son a suitable wife from his hometown. Abraham gives specific instruction but it also comes with a strange and unfamiliar clause: If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there." It was quite adamant that agency was needed because Abraham did not want Isaac to deviate from the family calling of following God to the promised land. What was inspiring about this whole saga was that the senior servant inherited from Abraham this strong faith in God's work of preparing the way even before he had set the journey. He was strategic in getting to a place where many single ladies were in, but the sign he had asked from God was the sign of hospitality.
It was simple: as a foreigner he would ask for a drink, and the sign would be confirmed if the woman also offers to water the camels too. The servant didn't go for beauty, wealth, or some specific skill, but he did go for the following traits through that one sign that he had asked from God:
The woman... 1. Shows hospitality to strangers/foreigners (something Abraham clearly had done too!)
2. Shows diligence in work ethic - present at the time when others are also busy with work - not idle 3. Has a heart of compassion - Going above and beyond what is asked
These are actually very important traits, as a woman who wouldn't help strangers would probably find the Abraham family an odd lot in their level of hospitality. If the woman didn't show diligence, then all of the wealth of Abraham may be lost in Isaac's generation. If the heart of compassion were absent, then all the power accumulated by Abraham may be turned to a force of destruction (more on this in the coming parts).
But beyond the wisdom of all that the servant had asked, what I think was most important was that he had asked God for the sign - because he wasn't looking for Abraham's choice, nor Isaac's choice, nor was he looking for his own choice, but the servant was looking for God's choice.
Valentines day is around the corner and many of us who may still be out searching for 'the one' may have already been barraged with both good and bad advice, to look for this or that, or to use this app or that app. Well, instead of offering advice, as a chaplain, I have one prayer for you, that God's choice may be made clear to you as you ask Him to reveal His choice in His time to you. For those who are in a committed relationship, may God also grant you the courage and strength to love as you find God's good and perfect purposes for your relationship here on this side of eternity prepare both of you for the next!
And for all of us, regardless of the occasion, let us develop the same spirit of hospitality to serve those in need around us. Yes, wisdom is needed as con-artists and scammers have exploited kindness in the many years, but each of them God will judge and we need not allow our fears to reign over us. May God's love renew our minds that we may work diligently and with a big heart of help for all whom God has put in the path to ask us for it. And don't forget to offer water to the camels.
Dear God, grant us grace to always be able to offer Your overflow of love in our lives to meet the needs of others and even those whom we yet know. May we rest in Your security to be able to offer water to camels. In Jesus' Name we pray, Amen.
Hungry Chaplain Health Update:
92% Recovered - stitches have been removed, seeing the doctor twice a week for inspection of the wound. Some blood sugar spikes during the Chinese New Year - too much hotpot, though I'm inspired to eat more broccoli somehow.
*This picture looks less offending to me now than probably a year ago. Praising God as His Spirit is moving in both the calamity and the victory to fulfill His purposes!