The God who Sees me

desert

“Mommy are you watching? Look at me!” If you are a parent or have ever been around children, you know that this question is often on their lips. Children want to be seen by us, to know that they are important and noticed. As adults we are not much different. Perhaps one of the most important times that we yearn to be seen is when we are hurting, when we feel as if the walls are closing in around us and pain is unbearable. And isn’t it true that in those times we can sometimes feel the most invisible?

I am going through the book of Ruth with a group of precious women, and this past week we talked about affliction or suffering. At the end of Ruth chapter one, Naomi is in a deep depression. She has lost her husband and her two sons and feels empty, alone, She even believes that God’s hand has turned against her. If we are honest, haven’t we all felt like that at one time or another? If you have read the book of Ruth, you know that God has not forgotten about Naomi and indeed has a plan for her. It is one of the reasons the book is so beloved.

Before Naomi, there was a woman named Hagar, who went through her own type of affliction. Look back to Genesis 16. God had promised Abraham a son to carry on his name and give him numerous descendants. The only problem was his wife Sarah was barren. So they took matters into their own hands, as we often do. Sarah told Abraham to sleep with her maidservant Hagar to produce an heir. The plan worked and Hagar got pregnant, but soon after Sarah became jealous and mistreated her. (No surprise there!)  Hagar decided to run away from Sarah into the desert.

Hagar probably felt pretty invisible huh? She was the lowest on the totem pole. She was bullied by THE matriarch in the camp, and probably felt helpless, alone, invisible. She was about to find out that she was anything but. The Almighty God sent an angel out after Hagar in the desert. In Genesis 16:11 (ESV), the angel said to her,

Behold you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction.

This is the first time the word “affliction” is used in Scripture. Thanks a lot Sarah!!! Not a great to start off women’s relationships in Scripture ha! In all seriousness, my favorite part of this story is what happened in verse 11.

So [Hagar] called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly I have seen Him who looks after me.”

Is that not incredible?! Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant, gave the God of Israel a name, El Roi! And that is still one of His names today! He doesn’t change. Don’t you think if God pursued Hagar in the midst of her affliction, that He still pursues us? He sees what you are going through; you are not invisible to Him. Even if you feel as if no one else care, He does. Pour out your heart to the God who Sees and let Him comfort you with a peace only He can provide.

Natalie

 

 

 

Lessons from Standby

“Andy, I forgot my driver’s license.” This is not the sentence you want to say when you have just pulled up at the airport for your early morning flight. We were on our way to Kansas City for my dad’s graduation, and I had just thought to myself, “Wow, we are actually early! I can send some emails, get my Starbucks. This is great!” Apparently, I packed everything except the one thing that you must have to board the plane. After rushing all the way back to our house and then back to the airport, we missed our original flight to Atlanta that would take us to Kansas City. Let’s just say those moments were not my best.

As I cried at the ticket counter and listened to the options, it became apparent that our journey to Kansas City was not going to be easy. After hearing all of the possible scenarios, our best option was to get on standby for the next flight to Atlanta, and then wait on standby for the next flight to Kansas City. Well, that scared me to death. Even though there were a ton of seats available on the plane, I could not think of anything worse than being stuck in Atlanta!

HOME ALONE mom use this

At the end of the day, we made it to Kansas City. There were a couple of close calls, and a reenactment of the Home Alone scene as we sprinted through the Atlanta airport with Ellie and James, but we made it to the graduation celebration.  And you and I both know that God made it happen.

The whole time this was going on, I couldn’t help but see the parallel to the Christian life. Once we missed that original flight, we didn’t have control. We were on standby the rest of the way. And we had to take tiny steps of faith to get to our destination. Often, the Lord calls us to do something that is scary or uncomfortable. We may be OK with it, but the real problem comes in when we can’t see the step after that. We can’t see where or when He’s booked our next ticket, and so we don’t even get on the original flight. Because, what if we have to hang out in the Atlanta airport for the rest of our lives????

One of the most unbelievable examples of faith in the Old Testament is Abraham. His whole life was like a giant leap of faith! And although he had his moments, for the most part he trusted the Lord. In Genesis 12, God revealed himself to Abram aka Abraham and called him to leave his family and everything he knew. Taking God at his word, Abram obeyed. Verse 1 always jumps out at me,

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you…”

God didn’t fill in the destination on Abraham’s ticket! He literally told him to pack up and go, forcing Abraham to rely completely on the Lord. Sometimes we may think that it was easier for Abraham to obey because the Lord gave him these amazing promises in the next few verse (2-3). But I’m not sure that’s true. We have hundreds of promises in Scripture that apply to us, and yet we still have trouble stepping out in faith when we next steps aren’t laid out.

When Andy and I were at the original ticket counter trying to figure out what to do, the Delta employee could tell I was about to have an anxiety attack. She was so great and  was confident that we would make that connecting flight. As she was making the arrangements, she looked at me and said, “Just think of it as an adventure.” Y’all the Christian life is an adventure!!! And the LORD has all of our flights booked 😊

Natalie

 

Plans and Promises

Remember the former things, those of long ago: I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” Isaiah 46:9-10 (ESV)

In this post, I shared my verses for 2017, Isaiah 43:18-19. The LORD through the prophet Isaiah tells us, “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a NEW thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it!” (ESV) The Jewish exiles were missing out on what God was about to because they were stuck in the past. Sometimes, it can be easy for us to get so bogged down in what has happened, that we are blinded to the fresh new thing God is doing in our midst!

Now, just a few chapters later in Isaiah 46:9-10, we come to these verses, where God tells Israel that they SHOULD, in fact, remember the former things of old. These former things were all the ways God had proven Himself faithful in Israel’s history. And there were many, many instances of His faithfulness. In fact, not one of God’s promises had ever failed! We too should remember the ways God has been faithful in our own lives and take the time to thank Him. He can be relied upon and trusted. Who says Old Testament prophecy has no application for us? 😊

What really jumped out at me from Isaiah 46:9-10 is the phrase “I [God] make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.” This is such an important truth: God has a plan. He has had one from the beginning. What’s even more mind boggling is that He has chosen to make parts of it known. We can go all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve disobeyed and plummeted face first into sin. Immediately man was cursed, separated from their Heavenly Father…… But GOD. He had a plan for our redemption. He did not walk away, leaving us to die; no, He had a plan. And the rest of the Old Testament is filled with promises looking ahead to the glorious day of our salvation. God would send someone from the seed of Eve who would crush the head of Satan and redeem us from the curse of sin and death forever (Genesis 3:15).

As we study Scripture, we see hints and shadows of the Promised One in the Mosaic law and the sacrifices, in the things that may seem insignificant, even boring to our modern sensibilities, yet they are anything but. They are pointing to the One to come. When we study the Old Testament in light of the Cross, it changes everything. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:20 that “ALL the promises of God find their YES in Him [Jesus].” (ESV) Is that not the coolest verse ever??

2 cor 1 20

We have reason for GREAT JOY that God has a plan for mankind as whole but what is almost harder for me to grasp is that He has plans for each one of us individually. He cares about me and you, like REALLY cares. Psalm 139 tells us that before we were even born, He knew our names and our days. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that He has a plan for us, not to harm us, but to prosper us. Let that sink in. There are how many billions of people (?) and God knows each one of our names, and He has plans for each one. Isn’t there something beautiful and comforting in that truth?

So even in the midst of our heartaches and suffering, our loneliness and disappointment, we can rest assured that HE is in control and that He is working ALL things out for our good if we love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) We serve a God who has had a plan since the beginning, and it comes to fruition in His precious son Jesus Christ. Not one of His promises have ever failed. He is not about to let us down now.

Natalie