February 14, 2010
Re-evaluation, Hagar Returns
Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. Gen. 16:15-16
We do not know how Sarai reacted when Hagar returned. Perhaps Hagar changed her attitude and the women got along better. As I mentioned in the first of this series, it was apparently a fairly common practice for concubines to be used as surrogate mothers. During the actual birth, the wife held the surrogate in her arms. In this way the infant was counted as coming from the wife.
Two generations later, Rachel offers her maid Bilhah to Jacob, “Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, that she may bear upon my knees and that I too may have children through her.” (Gen. 30:3) After the baby is born, Rachel claims, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son’; therefore she named him Dan.” (Gen. 30:6)
Hagar, Abram, and Sarai all had a series of decisions to make on their journey through life. They each react differently to the same stimuli—the need for an heir for Abram. Like them, some of our decisions will result in growth and others leave dead wood like this tree split by a storm.
Abram has received assurance from God “your very own issue shall be your heir.”… “And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.” (Gen. 15:4-6). Perhaps he thought Sarai’s offer of Hagar was the way to accomplish this promise.
I think it is interesting that Ishmael is born 13 years before Abram is visited by a trio of angels and learns that Sarai will personally bear him a son. God does accomplish what was promised, but in God's time, not through the mechanisms of Sarai, Hagar, and Abram. During that time Ishmael is the heir apparent. It is no wonder that when Sarah (her name and Abram’s are changed when the angels visit) bears a son, Hagar is cast out of the camp. That is the story for another meditation, perhaps. (See Gen. 21:8-21)
If you are feeling lost, and even if you think you are on the right path, take time to be still and evaluate where you are. When we have journeyed along a certain path for a while, it is important to stop and look at our progress. Some questions to ask include:
Are you still heading in the direction you planned?
Did you take advantage of the advice you received?
Have you started to see results?
What else are you called to do?
Is there a new path to take?
Lent starts on Wednesday. Next Sunday, this blog will begin to look at ways to “Simplify with Women of the Bible” during Lent. Often people give up something for Lent, like candy or cigarettes, or lattes. This is not a bad thing, but the purpose of Lent is a time for self-reflection. We will take brief looks at several of the women in the Bible and see how their lives benefited from simplifying and evaluating their journeys. See you then.