Formation happens when dead clay is assailed by attentive eyes and intrusive hands till the refining grace of an artist's vision of life is realized. Then it is called art and not mud. And from that time on, whether critics revere it or revile it, it can never again be regarded as mere mud, because formation has given it an image and a name. *2Corinthians4:7*
It is a beautiful Thursday on this 17th day of July.
Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 44. A few days ago I was 43.
Funny, I don’t feel any different. The calendar tells me something significant happened but if I didn’t have a calendar I wouldn’t have known there was anything special about that day. It just felt like another day.
Prayer is like that.
Something life shaping slowly introducing changes to your life and body happens. You may not feel the difference. You might not immediately feel the change.
In prayer, a movement from this moment to that moment happens. We expect something significant is going to happen. But maybe, after the prayer has left our lips, it still just feels like another day.
When I started this week I was 43. Today I am 44. Whether I feel the change or not, something important is happening. At the very least I must introduce myself differently when asked: how old are you? In the tiniest way I am not the man I was. I am becoming someone new: new experiences and new challenges with each passing day and every passing year.
Prayer, though sacramental, is significant for us in incremental ways too.
Please receive this morning prayer for you
God who inspires change,
You know my weakness and failings, and that without Your help I can accomplish nothing for the good of souls, my own and others’. Grant me, therefore, the help of Your grace. Grant it according to my particular needs this day. Enable me to see the task You will set before me in the daily routine of my life, and help me work hard at my appointed tasks. Teach me to bear patiently all the trials of suffering or failure that may come to me today. And when I hear your voice, may I know it, listen closely to it and love it with all my heart.
…She became his wife; and he loved her… ~Genesis 24:67
The multiple hats on this pastor’s head argue over who is the greatest among them.
The Teaching Pastor wants to take this narrative about Abraham’s servant and the search for Isaac’s wife and sliced it up into a 3 part sermon: 1) Prepare 2) Pray 3) Wait.Prepare by gathering as much information as you can; know what your goal is; explore alternative approaches; define unacceptable outcomes and failure so you have permission to pull the plug if it is going off course. Pray for God’s direction and look for clear indications that God is working to avoid the pitfall of succeeding in your own resourcefulness alone. Unless the Lord builds the house… Wait: patience is the hardest part. Expect that God will be faithful and put it all together at just the right time and in the right way. But, like Abraham’s servant, you must be prepared, prayed up, and watching for the hand of God to move ready to act when God provides the answer!
An inner Spiritual Director questions whether this is “unhelpful” and wants to let the passage speak for itself: push the Patriarchs aside and give room for Rebekah, this amazing woman, to speak out of her own story. The virtues of strength and generosity are hers. She is decisive. She is beautiful. Her name is often translated: captivating but that only tells half the story. Literally, Rebekah means “tied down”. The connotation is positive. Not a yoke of slavery or submission, this “tied down” means the important things are secured. Cattle have been tended and won’t wander off. The family’s goods are strapped down and won’t be lost in the sudden storm winds of the desert. Rebekah is a woman with a strong handle on things. It gets done and done right when Rebekah is around. Maybe that’s why her mother and her brother tried to keep her around for another week or two following her wedding proposal. Can you say more about that, Rebekah?
The Chaplain hears something else in the passage. Isaac is comforted after his mother’s death. Sarah has died and Isaac is alone. Practically an only child, Abraham is a workaholic absentee father. Isaac is, perhaps 40-ish by now, managing one of his father’s field offices.
Abraham and Sons Securities and Livestock, LLC. —Negev Branch
This must be a hard time for you, Isaac. How has the loss of your mother affected your work? Where do you see God in your life at this time?
The Student of Christ in me hesitantly raises a hand to half mast and wonders in a much too humble voice if Isaac’s dedication to meditation demands some attention. Rebekah, in the original language, falls off her camel when she sees this man praying. Among his attributes of looks and wealth, is a developed prayer life equally attractive?
Then I call the class to attention. Voices are silenced for a meaningful pause.
I ask this question:
Isn’t it enough to simply enjoy a love story?
Does it really need to be more than that?
God has brought a strong, beautiful woman to a lonely, godly man in a culture where marriages had more to do with clan preservation and consolidation of wealth.
Two distant lives become two hearts melting into one.
And no one noticed:
Right in the middle of the busyness of the business of religion, clan politics, financial transactions and work related stress