Keep Your Eyes Peeled

by | Jul 10, 2023 | Sermons | 0 comments

July 9, 2023

Scripture Reading: Genesis 24:1-27

What does a day in the life of an ancient like Abraham look like? Wouldn’t you love to know? Abraham and his clan were bedouins – nomadic people, at ease in the desert, herders who raised camels.

Abraham is a man living inside a promise from God. It was the promise of a land that would belong to his descendants. All his life (175 years, the Bible says) he believed that promise. He was also promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the sands of the sea or the stars in the sky. And he believed that all his life even though he only had one son – Isaac.

One day in the last days of his long life, he had a sense it was time to take care of some business that had weighed heavier on him than anything ever had. His son needed a wife so that after Abraham was gone, the promise could begin to come true through Isaac.

So there in the tent, this ancient man called in his long-trusted servant and manager of his household Eliezer (who, by the way, at one time thought he would inherit all of Abraham’s wealth). In so many words, he said to Eliezer: “I have one task for you and everything rides on it! I want you to travel many miles to the North, go back to where my family still lives and find a wife for Isaac and bring her here! There are, however, three conditions:

● She has to be family – A relative of a relative. From my clan.
● Under no condition may she come from any of the tribes around here – not a local girl!
● If the one you choose refuses to come here, you’re off the hook. Just come back and you and I will be square.

Eliezer packs up ten camels filled with gifts for this girl of Abraham’s dreams. Off he goes with the weight of this assignment heavy in his thoughts. What is he thinking as he travels many days toward the North and toward Abraham’s kin.

Eliezer knows how intimately God is entwined in this venture. Abraham had promised Eliezer that God would send his angel before him and prepare the way. He also knows how much is riding on it and he must have felt overwhelmed! How can I make this decision? What if I get the wrong girl? Surely he must have pondered many possible scenarios while on the back of that lumbering, dirty, dusty camel. It must have felt like a random game of chance. What are the odds?

Eventually, Eliezer concluded that he was not alone in the venture and he had every right to call God in on it – so as he approached the settlement of Abraham’s kin, he prayed: (Genesis 24: 12-14) “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”

And guess what? No sooner had he finished that prayer than this girl comes out of the crowd standing by the well with a jar on her shoulder. Beautiful girl! Available.

Eliezer asks for a drink, which she gives him without hesitation. Everything is going to script. And sure enough, when she had quenched Eliezer’s thirst, she said: “Here, let me draw water for your camels, too!” Wow~! shall we sign the papers and go home? Not quite!

The next verse is so impressive to me! vs 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.

I want to have a sit-down with this man, Eliezer! What kind of spiritual depth is in him that he is so attentive in the middle of trying to discern the will of God, the wishes of Abraham, and his own sense of what is right and best? Of course the story proceeds toward the proper conclusion and Eliezer has done his best, chosen just the right girl, Abraham is more than satisfied, and best of all, Isaac, who was grief-stricken over his mother Sarah’s recent death, fell in love with Rebekah: Verses 67 says: he married Rebekah.

So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. Now, I don’t know how well you’ve been paying attention at any deep level while I’ve been telling you this almost fairy tale story, but there are a number of lessons to be learned here, of which I want to lift up one that seems critical to me in our spiritual journey.

I am impressed and instructed by Eliezer in the middle of this consequential venture. He chose to bypass all of the splashy, grandiose ways he might have approached his assignment. He could have called a town council, consulted the wisest and most noble elders or interviewed 12 candidates. Instead, he intentionally and thoughtfully chose the most common of settings, among the most common of people and waited and watched there in silence to see what God would do.

There at the well, the meeting place for the common folk, was a place where time was likely spent in village gossip, and the chores done were routine and so ordinary. There, he waited for God to help him find just the right answer. He was not discouraged by the ordinariness of the setting – he actually chose it!

Our lives are filled with ordinary time. The church year’s largest time is Ordinary Time. We’re dismissive when it comes to the ordinary times of our lives. “What’s happening? Oh, nothing! Just the usual – Same old, same old!”

I wonder if the truth is: It’s not that nothing is happening in our boring and routine hours, it’s that we don’t have eyes to see! People missed the birth of Jesus because it was in little, boring Bethlehem. The priests and Levites missed the man wounded by the road. Joseph’s 12 brothers sold him to passersby because he was the youngest and a nuisance.

Our eyes are not open in the routine of our lives – which is the greatest block of time we spend! What would it be like if we were to consciously invite God into the mundane? Isn’t it all sacred? Kathleen Norris in her book: “Quotidian Mysteries” Laundry, Liturgy, and Women’s Work says:

“The Bible is full of evidence that God’s attention is indeed fixed on the little things… simply because God loves us–loves us so much that the divine presence is revealed even in the meaningless workings of daily life. It is in the ordinary, the here-and-now, that God asks us to recognize that the creation is indeed refreshed like dew-laden grass that is “renewed in the morning” or to put it in more personal and also theological terms, “our inner nature is being renewed everyday”

So, I say to all of us in these often forever-long periods of routine and tedium, what my Dad would likely say: “Keep your eyes peeled, bug, you never know….”

It’s true.

Pastor Don Crist