A Pretty Kettle of Fish

 

Photo by Jimmy Marks. (c) 2012 Jimmy Marks. From Creative Commons. flickr.com
Photo by Jimmy Marks. (c) 2012 Jimmy Marks. From Creative Commons. flickr.com

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. – Psalm 27:14 NIV

Have you ever made a mess of things because of your impatience? You prayed and prayed, and, not getting an answer, you decide to take matters into your own hands. Or maybe it wasn’t impatience that got you into trouble, but a lack of faith, a failure to trust God, to believe that He’s got it under control, that He really will keep His promises.

You’re in good company.

Abraham, one of the Bible heroes whose amazing faith is recorded in both the Old and New Testaments, got himself into a mess on more than one occasion by taking matters into his own hands, running ahead of God, and demonstrating a serious lack of faith.

Remember when Sarah, his barren wife, talked him into sleeping with her maid Hagar so she could have a child by her? That was a pretty kettle of fish. First when Hagar did indeed get pregnant by Abraham, Sarah complained that Hagar now regarded her with contempt. So Hagar was sent away, only to be rescued by El Roi—“The God Who Sees Me”—and sent back to Sarah. (Genesis 16:13)

Fourteen years later Hagar was sent away again, this time with Ishmael, the son she’d borne to Abraham. Once again, God rescued her in the desert, promising her that Ishmael “would become a great nation.” (Genesis 21:18)

All because Abraham and Sarah couldn’t wait on God, who’d promised a son to the childless couple, who were well past parenting age.

Then there was “The Lie”—a half-truth, really. You know what I always say: A half-truth equals a whole lie. What was the lie Abraham told? That Sarah was his sister. Well, technically she was. They shared the same father but not the same mother. Back then it was okay to marry your half-sister.

Why didn’t he want to reveal that she was his wife? Because she was beautiful, and there was a distinct possibility when they travelled through foreign territory, where the kings saw beautiful women and took them for themselves, Abraham would be killed so the local ruler could add Sarah to his harem. So Abraham said Sarah was his sister.

Not a total lie. But not the whole truth, either. He conveniently left out the part that she was his wife to save his own skin. And worse, he told her to lie, too. “This is how you can show your love to me,” he told her. “Wherever we go, say that I am your brother.” (Genesis 20:13)

As a result, Sarah was taken into the king’s harem on two occasions (Genesis 12:14–20; Genesis 20). Both times God intervened and brought her out unscathed.

So you see the great man of faith, Abraham, had his character flaws, too. He was, after all, human like the rest of us. And God’s Word doesn’t paint these heroes of faith as perfect. Instead, we see them warts and all so we can learn something from their mistakes.

What do I learn from Abraham’s messes?

That God is faithful. He doesn’t cast us off as useless or hopeless because we make the mistake of running ahead of Him, taking matters into our own hands, and making a mess of things. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful [true to His word and His righteous character], for He cannot deny Himself” (1 Timothy 2:13 AMP).

I learn that God is merciful and will save us from ourselves, if only we let Him. But we do have to live with the consequences of our actions.

I learn that His grace is sufficient and that He won’t leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) but will walk with us and give us the strength to carry the cross of consequences.

What kettle of fish do you find yourself in?

Why not trust it to the Fisher of Men?

Lord, forgive me when I run ahead of You and muddle things up but good. Help me to listen to You and follow Your plan. Amen.

Read and meditate on Genesis 20–21 

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

When You Run Out of Yourself

Image courtesy of supakitmod at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of supakitmod at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. – Hebrews 12:1 NKJV

When I was first hired as a part-time feature writer for the local paper, I could barely contain my excitement. Not only would I be realizing a lifelong dream—to be a writer—but also, finally, I had the chance to fulfill what I believed was a calling from God: to write a devotional column for the newspaper.

Several years earlier God had given me the vision; now the time had come. So I thought.

But as many times as I suggested it, the publisher said no. “I want you to focus on your feature stories,” he told me.

One day I walked into his office and he had the day’s newspaper spread out before him. He was complaining about wasted space. It just so happened that it was the day the weekly religion page was published, along with a boxed devotional they obtained online.

This was my chance.

“You want to see wasted space?” I flipped the pages to the religion page. My forefinger stabbed the canned devotional. “That’s wasted space. Those are dry as dust. Let me write something fresh.”

His mouth turned down in a cross between a frown and a pout. “I’m not going to pay for it,” he said.

“That’s fine,” I answered, excitement and joy spreading through me. I took his words as permission. After all, he didn’t say not to write it. He just said he wouldn’t pay for it.

That was 20 years ago.

Oh, I had plenty of ideas those first few years. Family was the best fodder. Something was always happening I could write about. I also tapped into 45 years’ worth of lifetime memories.

Eventually the kids grew up and left home, and their personal privacy trumped my need for writing material. And, after two decades and more than a thousand columns, the lifetime memory reservoir is drying up. In short, I ran out of Michele.

Every week I face a blank computer screen—and an equally blank idea bank. When an idea strikes, it takes only a moment to realize “I wrote about that already.”

So I pray, “Lord, help me. Write this column through me. What do You want to say this week?”

Despite my prayers, I still approach writing this column with anxiety.  It’s a big responsibility when you accept God’s call.

Oh, you start out with enthusiasm and excitement and plenty of ideas. But God’s calling isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. And it’s downright scary when you have to depend on someone other than yourself, even if that someone is God.

Haven’t I yet learned when God calls, He will equip? Hasn’t He faithfully answered my “write this column through me prayer” every week?

At some point we all hit the wall—the point where we run out of ourselves and feel as though we have nothing left to give.

Actually, we don’t. That is, we have nothing left of ourselves. But that’s a good thing—running out of ourselves. Because if we are to continue, we must let God fill us with Himself.

What about you? Have you hit the wall in your service to God?

You serve the God of endurance and encouragement (Romans 15:5)

And remember the words of the great missionary Hudson Taylor: “God’s will done God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”

Lord, forgive me when I depend on myself and not You. Remind me You are the God of unlimited resources. Amen.

Read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 15:58

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.