What’s it like to encounter God! Sometimes the Biblical accounts don’t help because they tell the whole story. Sure, they tell of the encounter themselves but we have to work out the state of mind of the people involved in the lead up and the context in which the supernatural invaded the natural. I’m not sure renaissance art helps either, beautiful though it is. My hunch is when Abraham met with the three supernatural visitors, it was just another hot lazy early afternoon. I guess by this time too, Sarah at least had grown tired and probably cynical in her faith. She would be truly remarkable not to have done so. And it is into the familiar, the mundane, the questioning, the pain, God loves to appear. It was true in 2000 BC, it was true in 0AD and it is true today. For you and me. So before you give up, give this podcast a listen. biblenovels.com F: Bible novels
Here’s the dream. What if our identity can be shaped by an intimate encounter with the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and our destiny be worked out in response to His call and direction. That is life in all its fulness. This episode of the story of Abraham tells how a life can be shaped and empowered by such an encounter. It isn’t in the Bible to tease us. The writer to the Hebrews when retelling the story of Abraham wraps up by saying: “God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they [the old Testament saints] be made perfect.” (11v40). Dare you believe this is true? Listen with open ears and open hearts, and see!
Another reality check: teenagers! The harsh reality is they expose our every weakness as a parent. There can be no respite. And often they come into our lives at a time when we’re already dealing with too much other stuff. Doubts, disappointments and questions are beginning to take root as we hit middle age. Perhaps past certainties of faith have become blurred. We have little time or inclination for God, probably just when we need Him most. The good news is as we see in this podcast, however far we drift from God, is never too far. He waits patiently and when we’re ready, will reveal His love to us again. www.biblenovels.com
It’s hard for us to accept that characters like Abraham and Sarah were as human as you and me! Stress tested their marriage, and their faith would have had its ups and downs too. The Bible allows us to see the flaws of a David, Peter or James and John’s mum come to that! And it does so, because otherwise we tend to think we’re beyond hope; somehow not made of the material God used in the Biblical stained-glass window saints! The Prince of Lies would love us to give up on anything holy, like marriage or faith. He wants us to focus on our failings and poor decisions. Our Father wants us to focus on His faithfulness and restoration through Christ. This podcast isn’t action packed or feel good. It is though real, and I pray you will find hope through affinity. www.biblenovels.com
The story of God meeting a pregnant runaway slave dying in the desert and speaking faith, hope and love into her life is more remarkable than we can ever truly comprehend. As I narrate my meagre attempts to describe it, I’m reminded again just how inadequate my words are. We so take the incarnation of God in Christ for granted, that His love and grace have lost their mystery and wonder. Stories like God meeting Hagar at Beer Lahai Roi help re-affirm the glorious truth that God knows and loves us just as we are, and wants to save and transform us into who He purposed us to be. There is no mess or failing too big for the power of His love. By the way I love the fact that it is the servant girl who isthe first person He meets with after the fallout from Hagar’s pregnancy by Abram. He will meet with the Patriarch and Matriarch too, but He starts with the most insignificant and vulnerable. He doesn’t mince His words, and there are consequences to the chaos we create, but that is down the road. Right here and now, this is a story of revelation and love by the the Lord of Heaven to the lowliest maidservant.
This is the story of how sex and power can destroy relationships, how failure, hurt and humiliation ferment guilt, bitterness and pride, and of the brokenness and chaos that results. Desire once unleashed is hard to tame, weakness once exposed is hard to cover up, power once discovered is hard to control. Humanity may have advanced in so many ways, and modern culture may have increased expectations and aspirations; but when we put our heads on our pillows at the end of the day, the thoughts that race through our minds are probably not so very different from those of Abram, Sarai and Hagar. Their questions are very similar to ours, and the answers lie in the same place too, the one to whom the story of Abraham ultimately points: Christ, and Christ alone.
Our poor decisions tend not to just happen. Even the spur of the moment ones often have their origins in mindsets and habits of behavior formed over a lengthy period. Sarai and Abram’s decision, (and yes both must take ownership, because Abram really can’t say: The woman made me do it!) was probably formulated over time, justification fermenting the brew until it was ready. The impact on the three principle players must have been marked. However we may seek to explain things, we tend to know when we’re making a poor decision. It is just we make another poor decision to ignore what we really know. Then we have to deal with the consequences, most of which impact all those around us, and often impact those who come after us too. In Abraham’s case, it would impact all of history. Listen and reflect: what deicsions am I seeking to justify today and why. I pray it saves you and many others from deep pain.
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” As much as we may crave to experience God, I doubt any of us have the slightest idea what we’re asking for. The holiness and love of God are intrinsically linked so coming into His presence is both glorious and fearful. This is certainly Abraham’s experience here, as God makes the most formal of contracts with him. But even this was only a precursor of Christ’s covenant with us who believe. I wrote this section with a sense of holy awe and wonder, that honestly has never left me. Experiencing God would leave Jacob walking with limp. It is at the same time cripplingly intense and yet also gloriously liberating. A true encounter with Him leaves us marked and yet whole. Perfectly balanced- neither weirdly intense or flippantly superficial. Thoroughly in the world but not of it. More approachable and relatable but irrefutably different. The true woman or man God intended us to be. Life in all its fulness.
The story of Abraham is a thumbing good read, on pretty much any level. But the more you reflect upon it, the richer it becomes. And nowhere is this more so than when Abraham met Melchizedek. This mysterious man came from nowhere, interacts briefly and disappears again. But the rest of scripture from the Psalms to the Gospels to the letter to the Hebrews acknowledges something profound happened in those few moments. Talk about making an impact! For Abraham, I think there was just relief to find someone who understood his journey. For the rest of humanity, including you and me, there is the extraordinary assurance that history isn’t haphazard, but there is a driver behind it all, a God who knows all things, is all powerful and ultimately is…. love! Perhaps a thousand years before the first passover, two thousand years before the last supper and four thousand years before our regular taking of Holy Communion, Melchizedek offers up bread and wine. A king, a priest, a fellow pilgrim. For Abraham, came the encouragement of physical fellowship, for you and me, the encouragement of historical rootedness and belonging. Who we are and what we do has a mystery and a continuity, which suggests a destiny ordained in heaven from the outset and worked out in heaven at the end of time. It’s glorious. Only bread and only wine, and yet…