Read His Words Before Ours!
My reflection caught my attention as I slowly dragged my jar through the water, allowing the cool liquid to swirl and fill it. I pulled it out carefully and set it to the side, wincing at the twinge in my back. I turned back to the water and paused to take in my image. Dark, intent eyes peered through long, full lashes. Smile lines were evident now; the years had made me softer. Thick waves of long, silver hair fell forward into my eyes, and I pushed them aside, chuckling to myself. It wasn’t so long ago those strands were as black as the night sky, I thought ruefully.
I dipped one hand in the water, pressing the cool drops to my flushed cheeks. Strange, to see such a youthful glow across skin that has weathered so many years. I watched my full lips curve into a wondering smile as my hand dropped to my burgeoning belly. Gentle kicks fluttered within and the familiar eyes staring back at me filled suddenly with tears of joy. This baby is nothing short of a miracle. Glory to Yahweh! He has done what He said He would do. If my eyes were not telling me the story, I would not believe it myself.
His mercy is…..
“Beautiful!” My father called out as I danced around him, twirling and bowing whimsically like only four-year-old little girls can. A flower adorned my silky black tresses, and I sang and laughed with delight. “My beautiful princess, you are lovely inside and out! And your dancing! Ho ho!” He hooted and roared with laughter as he lifted me high into the sky and spun me around. “In all of the world, there is none like you!” I squealed, “Again, papa, again!”
The memory brought a different kind of tears to my eyes, and I blinked them back quickly. My dear papa. What a life this has been. What a life this IS. My mind sifted through memories as if written in one long scroll, and I stirred an elegant finger through the water absentmindedly. Amazing, I thought. The way God weaves together our stories, our lives…it’s
“…kind of beautiful, isn’t it?! I am excited, Sarai! This is what He is calling us to do. What are you thinking, Sarai? You’re a million miles away, my love.” Abram was staring expectantly into my gaze with the half-smile I’d grown to love more over the years. I’d been lost in thought as he shared what God had told him; in embarrassment, I lowered my eyes collecting my thoughts. I would have been a fool to remain unaware of the effect my beauty had on others, but with Abram, something had always been different. He saw beneath my outward beauty. Though I had been unable to bear him heirs and give him the children my heart desired above all else, still he loved me. Still, he called me beautiful. Something about a man like that just fills you with longing and excitement.
And faith, a still, small voice whispered to my spirit. God’s hand is on him.
I looked up again, startled at the thought. “Yes, Abram,” I responded. “We will go to Canaan. Where God leads us, we will follow.”
His hand reached for mine; we both knew what this meant. We would be leaving everything we knew. Our family. Our community. Our home. We would be strangers in a foreign land. Sojourners.
Immigrants, I thought.
So many emotions filled me, but underneath all the other feelings, I discovered a sense of relief. Away from our families, from our community, perhaps I could finally let go of the private grief I had carried for so long. Private shame. Perhaps my heart could finally release the dream of a home filled with tiny feet and children’s laughter. Infertility, it was my constant burden.
A bird’s call brought me back to the present and I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. The baby in my belly fluttered, finding a more comfortable position. I laughed aloud at the wonder of it all. I dried my hands on my robe and pulled my hair into a quick braid. Stooping carefully, I picked up the jar and began walking back to my tent. As my swollen feet fell into a rhythm, I felt my mouth pull into a grimace as a darker memory filled my mind.
“Beautiful does not begin to describe her,” the man said. “The King has seen her and wants her for himself.” My heart dropped and I worked to keep my face emotionless. Tears collected under my lashes. “Yes, my sister is lovely,” my Abram answered. The fear I could hear in his voice ignited an echoing coil in my own belly.
How could we be here again? I thought. I am not a young woman, God. Why have you cursed me with this beauty? I can’t bear it! My spirit wept at the thought of what was surely to come. Everything in me screamed that this lie was wholly wrong, but fear kept me silent.
I stepped forward in obedience. “Goodbye, brother,” I said quietly, searching my love’s face for some sign of reassurance. Abram’s eyes filled with tears and unvoiced pleas, and he couldn’t bear to meet my gaze. Quickly turning, he began puttering with the edge of his garment
“Goodbye.” His voice was thick with emotion, but the men noticed nothing unusual and took me outside the tent.
We walked together down the road, each one silent in our thoughts…or prayers, in my case. Father, help me. Remember your servant. You know my heart belongs to Abram. Please, make a way where there seems to be none! Forgive me for this lie and make things right!
Tears of regret filled my eyes as the memory faded and I paused to lower the jar of water onto our table. I removed my sandals and sat on the bench, groaning softly as my joints protested under the weight of the gift, the promise, my tired body carried. My wrinkled hands caressed my stomach, stretched and taut with new life.
God gave me so many opportunities to trust, to have faith.
And I failed at every one.
When Abraham and I were Abram and Sarai, and Pharaoh wanted me for his own… We lied and said I was Abram’s sister instead of having faith. And yet, God spared us and prevented Pharaoh from sinning. HE was our shield.
And again, when King Abimelech wanted me to be his…rather than trusting God, we lied! And yet, God spared us and kept the King from me. He delivered us from our own sin! HE was our protector.
When God promised Abraham he would be the father of many nations, and I would bear him a child…I didn’t trust He could do it!
Tears finally spilled over my cheeks as the deep ache of remorse filled my chest.
God had already shown me that He could do anything, but I doubted. I sent my handmaiden to my love, to my Abraham, and told him to sleep with her. And it worked. She gave him a son. Abraham calls him Ishmael. He is a handsome boy, but he is not mine. He was never to be the fulfillment of God’s promise.
Everything changed after that mistake. Abraham gave himself to Hagar, at my bidding. We traded our easy love for something more complicated and difficult. It was never part of God’s plan, and every day I am reminded of the consequences of my choice.
I was faithless. And yet…
The miracle child inside me squirmed and wriggled, bumping against my sides and bringing a smile to my lips.
Yahweh is faithful. He did what He said He would do. He called LIFE out of this barren womb. He brought good from all the wrong choices we made. He was our shield and protector, and from Abraham and I nations will be borne. From all our ugly choices and failures, He brought
“Beauty,” I whispered.
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Wow! Perfect timing for this today. Beauty from ashes and even when you mess everything up possible, God is still faithful to his word. This song keeps going through my head this way from when I was younger “God will make a way, when there seems to be no way. He works in ways, we can not see…He will make a way for me”.
Singing along with you! Astonishing….the Savior who loves us so deeply! Moved to tears when I think of His goodness