Have your eyes ever hurt standing in line of the supermarket or at least your head? The magazine rack is beaming with bright colors with familiar faces. Faces that we hold up as heroes for some almost in a Greek pantheon way. Not only do we lift up Hollywood, but we all too often lift up the names in the Bible as unreachable humans. Instead of seeing Abraham or Ruth as a man or woman just like you and me perhaps you, like me, see them as a Superman figure that God had a highly unique relationship. Then there are some stories that explode this view.
The time had come Sarah had passed and Abraham knew that he wanted to see his son, Isaac, married. He called in his servant gave him instructions to bring a wife from his ancestors back to Isaac. The servant made an oath that he would faithfully complete this task and
he set off to land of Ur.
The servant arrived in the village of Nahor. He strode arrogantly in with his procession of fine goods he had brought as gifts to the bride to be. Then upon inquiring of Abraham’s family began a beauty pageant to see who would be selected. Sorry nope. No King Xerxes here.
The servant stops at the village well and prays. Whoa! Wait I thought God only had a relationship with those he picked out. This is before the ten commandments and Israelite religion. Here is a servant praying,
“LORD, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master” (Genesis 24:14).
This is one of my favorite prayers in the Bible. It is humble, simple, and the servant expects God to show up in a big way. He asks God for a very specific sign you can tell he is taking this oath to his master seriously.
Another reason I gravitate toward this prayer is its searching for discernment. The servant is concerned both with fulfilling his oath, and also carrying out God’s wishes “let her be the one you have chosen”. There is a hint of familiarity in the servant’s prayer that indicates to us reading it that this was not the first prayer uttered by this servant.
The last aspect of this prayer is its tone. The tone is so friendly. If it stopped after the opening line “O LORD, God of my master give me success today” it would sound official and impersonal. Instead. The second line sounds more like a face to face conversation “See, I am standing beside this spring…”. The servant goes on to explain his predicament and how God can help him through it.
This simple servant had somewhere along the way learned to pray to Abraham’s God who was now their God. Abraham makes it to Hebrews 11 the servant’s everyday faith doesn’t, but it is one I can really grab onto. So I tip my hat to us common everyday faithful saying God may never use us to start a nation, marry a tyrant to save your people, or to call down fire from heaven, but he is still God with us.
As the last words of the servant’s prayer are dripping from his mouth God begins acting. There before him was the girl for Abraham’s son. The servant anticipated the arrival of God he prayed as if God always shows up. Entering into advent I am mindful of the anticipation of Christ’s coming both present tense and future tense. Do I have the faith of this servant who expects and prays in anticipation of God who always shows up?
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