You know what would be really amazing? If God sent a game plan attached to the promises He gives us. I don’t know about you, but I’d really appreciate a timeline, directional signs, a cup of coffee and a manual for every single promise He sends my way. I’m the kind of girl that likes to know when, where and how things will take place. Control Freak? Maybe. But us planners like to be in the know. In Genesis 16 is the story of two fellow control freaks. Abram and Sarai were a much older couple. In today’s society, they would totally be in the old folks home. However, despite their age, they were promised by God, something big- a child. They responded to God like most of us do when He calls us to God-sized assignments: they questioned it. How is this going to happen? Why would you bless me, out of all people? Are you sure I can do this? They dialogued with The Lord and decided to wait with hands open, ready to receive. They waited and waited and waited. With every passing year, the desire to have this child grew stronger. Somewhere in the process of waiting, they became much more focused on the promise than the promise giver.
Sarai decided to send her husband into bed with her maidservant and surely they could have a child that way.
“He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.” (Genesis 16:4)
Because of their actions toward her, Hagar was now carrying something she never asked for or intended. Of course Hagar began to despise her mistress! Isn’t that the natural reaction to people who make you feel like dirt? God gives us very clear instructions on how to engage in relationships with one another: “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10). "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32). "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:4)
These words are meant to bless our relationships and cause them to thrive. The thing about relationships is they require us to interact in order for them to work. Anytime people interact with each other, there is always a risk of something not going right. Personalities can clash, communication is faulty, motives are unclear and things can get messy. Whew-wee can things get messy! So when we willfully step outside of how we are instructed to treat each other, the relationship begins to spoil. When we so much as put one toe outside of the guardrails set for us in scripture, we move from godly relationships to godless ones.
“Avoid Godless chatter because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” (2 Timothy 2:16). Godless words lead to godless assumptions. Godless assumptions lead to godless opinions and godless opinions lead to godless actions. And no one wins.
Abram and Sarai dehumanized Hagar. They called her, “slave” and often referred to her as “her or she.” That’s what godless behavior can lead to. The irony here is that all of this was done in hopes of fulfilling a God-given promise. God made Abram and Sarai a promise, they grew restless waiting for Him to fulfill it, so they decided to lend God a helping hand. They stopped focusing on what God could do through them and began focusing on what God should do for them… and people became casualties.
As a leader, I have to remind myself daily that when I take my eyes off of the Lord, I’m not the only one who pays a price. My choices have the potential to cause others frustration, discouragement, hurt, unforgiveness and so on. Either way, my decisions can cause someone to carry something they never intended to carry.
Hagar was hurt and she ran away. She wanted nothing to do with the ones who made her feel used and unimportant. Isn’t that what most of us do in situations like that? “Hagar (He calls her by name), slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8) In other words, how did you get to where you are today and how are you going to deal with that? She wasn’t seeking God in that moment, but He sought her. He sought her out to tell her, “Hey, I see you. I know you. I have a plan for you” We all end up carrying things we never asked for or intended. Has someone else’s actions planted something inside of you that you now have a responsibility to deal with? God sees you. He see’s your heart and every time it breaks. He sees your tears. He sees your potential when others don’t. He truly sees you.
I’m grateful for a God who sees me. I want to be known for who I am, not by a position or a pronoun.