January 24, 2010

Hagar is Lost

Last week we looked at how Hagar’s attitude affected her decisions and her journey. When we neglect to  the proper planning for our journey (to the store or in our life decisions) we can find ourselves at a dead end. Remember the steps of any decision or journey:

1. Decide where we are going.
2. Map the route to the goal.
3. Gather information.
4. Set out and see results.
5. Reevaluate your journey.

Hagar decided to use her pregnancy to become, if not Abram’s wife, at least a more highly favored member of Abram’s tribe. Her steps to accomplish this met with resistance from Sarai. Hagar found herself changing her route to the goal. She decided to run away, but she didn’t map out the path or get any advice about where to go. Hagar is pregnant, angry, and feeling overlooked. She leaves Abram’s camp and heads out. Perhaps she was plans on going back to Egypt or just blindly running away because “Sarai dealt harshly with her.” Because Hagar didn’t wait to really make a plan, she became lost.

Hagar is feeling very sorry for herself, saying, “I thought Abram would come after me because I’m carrying his child. I’ve traveled for lo these many days and he hasn’t come to get me. What am I going to do? If I go back to Egypt, I’ll be sold as a slave again and my child as well. I can’t crawl back to Abram, Sarai will yell at me and be cruel.”

She realizes that her unplanned journey has gone badly and doesn’t know how to get herself out of the mess she is in. Hagar is definitely re-evaluating her steps on the journey, but cannot see a way to map out a solution. However, she is not really lost, because, “The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.”

To put her trip in perspective, the “Wilderness (or Desert) of Shur” is the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula. There was a caravan route to Egypt that went through Shur. Many scholars identify the location of this scene as near Kadesh-barnea, 50 or 60 miles south of Beersheba where Abram often encamped.

She comes to this oasis and something amazing happens to this slave from Egypt. The God of her master finds her! When we are at the end of our ropes, God often steps in. In The Sound of Music, Mother Superior tells Maria “when God closes a door, He opens a window.” Sometimes, though, we find it hard to see the window until we have nowhere else to look.

Are you struggling with what seems to be a dead end? Why not step back and look around to see if you can see the window God has left open?

Sometimes we are stuck, like these cats in the baby crib, because we can't see beyond the bars to the opening at the top. When I have trouble seeing that open window or ‘thinking outside the box’, I sometimes draw an actual box and start putting down all sorts of ideas, even those that seem crazy or far out. Something about the act of drawing engages another part of the mind and new ideas come up. Maybe one of them isn’t so crazy after all…

This week we saw that even when Hagar thought she was lost, the “angel of the LORD found her.” Not only did the heavenly messenger find Hagar, the angel shared encouragement from God. Next week we’ll look at what happens when we listen to God’s advice. See you then.

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