The God Who Sees Me – Part 1

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In the book of Genesis we are told of the story of Hagar, the maid of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.  When Sarah was not able to conceive, she gave her maid to Abraham in hopes that she would be able to bear a son who would then be considered Abraham and Sarah’s legal offspring.  This was often the custom in the ancient world – their version of our surrogate mother today.

After Hagar conceived it appears there was conflict between the two women.  No doubt Sarah felt jealous and perhaps afraid that Abraham would begin to love Hagar more for giving him a son.  The Bible indicates that Hagar may have also become a little arrogant because she had been able to do for her master while his wife had not been able to do.

In any event when Sarah began to treat Hagar harshly, Hagar fled into the desert. There, huddled by a stream of water, no doubt feeling all alone and wondering what would become of her and the child she carried, Hagar was visited by the Angel of the Lord.  From the promises the visitor made to Hagar and from her response, it is clear that this was none other than God Himself.

God instructed Hagar to return to Sarah and Abraham and submit to them.  He assured her that she was going to have a son and that this son’s descendants would be too numerous to count.  She was instructed by God to name her son Ishmael which means “God that hears.”  Hagar clearly realized who her visitor was and she called Him El-Roi, “the God who sees me.”

I have often read this story, even taught it in Sunday School, but recently as I read it, the name of God seemed to jump out to me off the pages of my Bible.

The God Who Sees Me

In the midst of her fear and suffering Hagar recognized that God saw her.  I began to think of times in my life when I experienced that same sense.  Times of my own fear or suffering when God ministered to me in a clear way that let me know He saw me.  He knew my distress and He gave me assurance that He was with me and would help me in this time of difficulty.

I sat down and began to make a list of those times when God let me know without any doubt that He saw me and He was there.

Does Jesus Care?

The first moment for me was when I was 14 years old.  My father had recently walked out on my mother and me, leaving to live with another woman.  My heart was broken as my father had been the one I looked up to and wanted to be like.  Unable to cope with her husband’s desertion, my mother became the child and I became the adult.  Instead of her trying to comfort me, I was called on to give her comfort.  Over and over she would repeat to me stories of the early days of their marriage long before I was born and would tell me terrible things about my father.  Things I did not want and should not have had to hear.

One day feeling so alone I sat down at the piano and began to play a song we sometimes sang at church.  As I played that song, it was a cry from my heart to God.  The words of the song spoke exactly what I felt.

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press,
And the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?

Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches
Till it nearly breaks,
Is it ought to Him? Does He see?

After crying out to God through these words, I began to sing the chorus.  I was not sure if the words of that chorus were true,  Did God really see me?  A young girl living in a run-down small house in a tiny town.  What was I compared to the rest of the world?  Did He care?  As the tears ran down my face, I sang these words.

O yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary,
The long night dreary,
I know my Savior cares.

What I am about to say I know some will not believe or will say it was just the fancy of a young girl.  But to me it was so real, I will never doubt it.  As I sang the words of that chorus I felt a strong presence beside me.  Such a sense of peace came over me and I knew that the God who saw Hagar had seen me.  Afraid to turn and look for fear I would really see Him standing there and feeling how unworthy I was, I never turned.  But to this day, I know this was a moment when the Creator of the universe showed up to tell a young girl that He cared.

I have had other times of distress and problems but I have never doubted that God cares about me and that He sees me.

Have you had moments in your life when God “showed up” and let you know He was there?  If so, I would love to hear about them.

 

The Hole in Our Gospel

  What does God expect of us?

The following is taken from the book “The Hole in Our Gospel’ written by the president of World Vision, Richard Stearns.  It speaks much better than I can of our need to make a difference.  I have expressed my thoughts on this topic in other posts:  What is on Your Menu for the Christmas Meal? and Poverty – It’s Real!

“It is hard to read the headlines each day without a growing sense of alarm.  We hear about terrorism, ethnic and religious tensions, wars and conflicts, corrupt governments, massive natural disasters, climate change, nuclear intimidation, and even child trafficking and slavery.  Our post 9/11 world seems both frightening and threatening, and the majority of us struggle to understand it, let alone do something about it.  The world’s problems just seem too big and too hard for most of us; it’s so much easier to retreat from them than to take them on.  On Sunday morning, safe in our church pews and surrounded by friends, it can be all too easy to leave the world’s violence, suffering, turmoil outside–out of sight, out of mind.

But wait–as Christians, are we really given the option of turning away from the world’s problems?  Does God permit that?

The ideas behind The Hole in Our Gospel is quite simple.  It’s basically the belief that being a Christian, or follower of Jesus Christ, requires much more than just having a personal and transforming relationship with God.  It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world.

If your personal faith in Christ has no positive outward expression, then your faith–and mine–has a hole in it.

Embracing the gospel, or good news, proclaimed by Jesus is so much more than a private transaction between God and us.  The gospel itself was born of God’s vision of a changed people, challenging and transforming the prevailing values and practices of our world.  Jesus called the resulting new world order the “kingdom of God” and said that it would become a reality through the lives and deeds of His followers.  Jesus asked a great deal of those who followed Him.  He expected much more from them than just believing He was God’s Son.  He challenged them to embrace radically different standards, to love their neighbors and their enemies, to forgive those who wronged them, to lift up the poor and downtrodden, to share what they had with those who had little, and to live lives of sacrifice.  Then He likened their effect on the world around them to that which light has on darkness.  Light dispels darkness; it reverses it.

Those who choose to follow Christ have struggled since the very beginning to live differently in a world that often rejects their values and mocks their belies.  The temptation to retreat from it and to keep our faith private has befallen every generation of Christians.

Yet we are the carriers of the gospel–the good news that it was meant to change the world.  Belief is not enough.  Worship is not enough.  Personal morality is not enough.  And Christian community is not enough.  God has always demanded more.  When we committed ourselves to following Christ, we also committed to living our lives in such a way that a watching world would catch a glimpse of God’s character–His love, justice, and mercy–through our words, actions and behavior…..

Living out our faith privately was never meant to be an option.