For the past few weeks I’ve kind of been in a slump. I wrote a bit about it here… kind of. Realizing that I might be doing the same thing every day for the next thirty years is exciting (believe it or not) but also kind of a bummer. Now, who knows what I will actually be doing thirty years from now? I very well could still be teaching preschoolers at The Palms and that would be awesome. I also could be living in Honduras teaching kids about Jesus (probably not though because they hate tattoos in Honduras) or I could be living in Detroit as a stay at home mom. Or I could be dead. (Just being realistic.) So I was feeling restless (remember? I mentioned it here) and thinking about this restlessness last night at church while we were singing. (I’ve very good at singing while not thinking about the words – it’s not really something to brag about, but there it is.)
We were singing, “incomparables promesas me das,” over and over which means, “You give me incomparable promises,” which should’ve been a sign.
I was asking God what I should do to get out of this slump. Should I move back to the States? (Hah, of course not.) Should I take seminary classes online? Should I get involved in a new ministry? Should I be more social and get out more?
Then I stopped asking and listened for a minute. At first I heard silence, and just as I was about to stop listening and start asking again, God brought to mind Genesis 16.
Sarai, Abram’s wife, hadn’t yet produced a child. She had an Egyptian maid named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “God has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her.” Abram agreed to do what Sarai said. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took her Egyptian maid Hagar and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. Abram had been living ten years in Canaan when this took place. He slept with Hagar and she got pregnant. When Hagar learned she was pregnant, she looked down on her mistress. Sarai told Abram, “It’s all your fault that I’m suffering this abuse. I put my maid in bed with you and the minute she knows she’s pregnant, she treats me like I’m nothing. May God decide which of us is right.” “You decide,” said Abram. “Your maid is your business.” Sarai was abusive to Hagar and Hagar ran away.
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant 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!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.
The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said,“Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered. And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram. (ESV)
Now I’m not pregnant with my boss’s husband’s baby, and I haven’t been kicked out of anywhere, but God brought this passage to my mind last night. He reminded me of what He said to Hagar when she didn’t know what to do. The same God who sought out Hagar so long ago in the desert when she was feeling lost and alone is the same God who seeks me out today when I am feeling slumpy. To Hagar God said, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” To me God said, “Return to your job and submit to me.”
Just get back in there. Keep on keeping on. Dig your roots down deeper. Return and submit.
And you know what? Right after God tells Hagar, “Go back to your mistress. Put up with her abuse,” (The Message), He makes her a promise. He promises that she will have a bunch of kids (which was JACKPOT back in the day for a lady). He said, I hear you, girl, I hear you and I see you. He also tells her that it’s not always going to be rainbows and butterflies, but that this son of her’s might cause some problems. I hear all of this – God’s advice for me now is to submit. His promise is for JACKPOT-like things (maybe in the form of a bunch of kids but maybe not) and He fully acknowledges it’s not all going to be breezy.
Hagar named the spring where she had this interaction with God, “The Well of the Living One Who Sees Me.” God sees me in my slump. He sees me, He hears me, and He sends me right back into it, holding on to His promises.
So that’s the plan – Return and submit. Every day until I’m out of this slump.