Monday, June 28


Genesis 16:1-6

1Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, 2and Sarai said to Abram, "You see that the LORD has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. 4He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5Then Sarai said to Abram, "May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave- girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!" 6But Abram said to Sarai, "Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please." Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her.


I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, at some point in our lives, most of us have felt called to do something. We go into the task with all the vigor and energy of 100 people thinking we are going to make a difference and do something that honors God and helps our neighbors.  We have the attitude that God has told ME what He wants, now it all depends on ME.  
You will recognize that this is a very common and widespread philosophy. We continually think and act this way in the church today. We say the reason God's work is not going forward as it should is that we are not trying hard enough. The barrenness in our experience is due to the fact we have not really put ourselves into this. Maybe if we hold some more committee meetings and recruit more volunteers it will get going. It all depends on us.
We never bother to find out how God wants it done or whether God has a program to carry it out. We start out in fleshly zeal and pass out tasks to everyone we meet or corner people at meetings. When it all fails, we recognize that something is wrong, and we get frustrated and quit.  Despite our greatest efforts, we know that there is nothing but barrenness behind our actions.  If there is fruit to our efforts, it’s not the kind we wanted.  It feels forced, unnatural, and sustained only by our continual efforts.
This was what happened to Sarai. Note the sacrifice and the appearance of selflessness.  She did what she thought God wanted her to do, but it was her own imperfect effort to carry out what God promised her He would make happen in His time.  We’re human.  We get impatient and we want to see the fruit of our labor NOW.  In this rush to make things happen, we are missing out on doing things the way God intended and are left with a feeling of barrenness and disappointment when our actions fail.  Maybe next time we get that tug to go DO something, we need to sit quietly and listen more intently to HOW God wants us to do it.  Maybe we’ll be surprised by the fruits of our labor.


Father, how many mistakes I have made by doing this very thing that I have seen Sarai do.  Lead me to the place where I recognize the folly of my flesh and the impossibility of
pleasing You in its strength. Amen.


Written by Sarah Hembrook

Director of Children and Family Ministries

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