Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Sarah and the Quest for a Legacy and a Promise

Photo Courtesy of: Suhyson Choi

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her. And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.” ~Genesis 16:1-2

I have often read the account in Genesis 16 of Sarah giving her maidservant to her husband in utter astonishment. What was she thinking? How could she possibly be ok with her husband sleeping with another woman? She’s willing to have her husband father another woman’s child? What in the world is wrong with her?

Before we jump too quickly to thinking Sarah may have needed a mental evaluation, there is something important to note: it wasn’t so much that there was something wrong with Sarah as it was that there was something terribly wrong with the culture she was living in.

You see, the severely patriarchal culture we observe as the backdrop for the story of the Bible (not to be confused with the myth that the Bible itself and God Himself are patriarchal!) taught that woman’s sole purpose was to bear children and thereby further their husband’s family line. That was the primary way in which women could contribute to society. And if they didn’t? Well, they were pretty much viewed as being worthless.

You can imagine, then, Sarah’s desperation. Here she is, well into her golden years, still childless. She has gone through her whole life believing that she has failed at the one thing she was made to do: have babies. Her husband loves her, but she still feels as if she has let him down. What does she do then? She takes matters into her own hands. After all, a whole four chapters earlier, in Genesis 12, God had made the promise to Abraham that he would be made into a great nation. How could that happen apart from descendants?

So, Sarah does what to us feels like the unthinkable and gives her maidservant to her husband so that, together, they might produce an heir for Abraham and thereby help God’s hand along a little in HIs plan to make him into that great nation. The sad thing? God didn’t need any help, and it was Sarah’s racing ahead to try to insure on her own that God’s promise would come to pass which led to much of the heartache and turmoil we read of in the chapters of Genesis that follow.

What are you hoping for today, friend? What are you wishing for, trying to make happen, working yourself to the bone in order to bring to pass? What if I were to tell you that you would not be fulfilled, even if that legacy or that promise or that goal came to fruition, if you don’t first know Christ? It’s true. Consider a few passages of Scripture with me for a moment:

"What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? 
One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides forever.”
~Eccelesiastes 1:3-4

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”
~Isaiah 40:8

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
~Psalm 16:11

“The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
~Isaiah 58:11

The truth is that as great as goals and dreams are, as wonderful as it even is to see God so faithfully fulfill a promise He has made to one of His children (as he does several chapters later in the birth of Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac!), what is far more lasting and fulfilling is being in relationship with God Himself. The Giver truly is far greater than even His most amazing and best of gifts. 

Leaving behind a wonderful legacy and desiring to see promises of God be fulfilled are wonderful goals. But we make a grave mistake when we do as Sarah did and jump ahead of God out of a wrong belief that our God-given legacy will be more fulfilling to us than God is Himself. 

Whatever your life goals may be in this season and whatever legacy you may be working towards being able to leave behind, temper that zeal just a bit with the truths of God’s Word. Remember that all our work is empty vanity apart from Christ. Remember that walking by the Spirit is what must become our practice if we want to live a truly fruitful, fulfilling life on this earth. And that is only done through Bible study, prayer, and seeking the face of God.

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