If you were to ask me what is one thing that constantly causes my mind to jump ahead to tomorrow, my answer would come quickly and easily. Relationships. As in I want one. I dream about it frequently and pray for God to bring me a husband. The waiting is hard. But keeping my hands off the pen and stepping back so that God can write my love story is even harder.
On the outside it looks like I have it all together; that I’m waiting patiently and loving the single life. I wear the purity ring and have the shelf full of dating and relationship books. I’m set. But in my head I’ve met Mr. Man and have fallen in love several dozen times in several different ways. In my head I’ve been on romantic dates and have said “I do.” Some days the loneliness weighs me down and causes the tears to fall. Other days I’m so annoyed by the romance in my brain that I try to drop it all and tell myself it’s better being single.
I got to that point of being annoyed with myself a few weeks ago. My brain would not stop taking me forward to the time when everything works out and God gives me my own happily ever after love story. I was sharing my most recent circle of thoughts with a friend when she finally told me, “Maybe you just need to stop looking.”
It’s something I’ve read in many of those relationship books. Don’t go looking for a relationship. Let God do it. Just live your life for God and focus on Him. I’d been telling my head that for years, but it’s easier said than done. Yet that day, those same words spoken so simply by a friend finally made it to my heart. I didn’t need to search for a relationship. I didn’t need to think of all the ways to be in the right place at the right time, or how to get myself together so that I would be presentable when Mr. Man finally did come along. All I had to do was be myself and just stop looking.
When I knew I’d be doing this series on living in the now, the story of Isaac and Rebekah came to mind. Ever since finishing my study on Abraham, I’ve been avoiding Genesis 24. I didn’t want to read about another relationship only to let my mind wander off to tomorrow again. But I was reminded as I’ve read this chapter over the last couple days that there is more to Isaac and Rebekah’s story than the fact that they become man and wife in the end.
If you remember from the Abraham study, Isaac is the child God promised to Abraham in his old age. He is also the child who would receive the blessing and inheritance the Lord was giving to Abraham and his descendants. A couple of decades have passed since we were last with Isaac when God tested Abraham up on the mountain. Sarah has since died and Abraham has aged quite a bit. Now he is looking to the future of his son’s life.
One day Abraham calls his servant to him, the oldest man in the household who was also in charge of all that Abraham owns. “I want you to swear to me,” he said to his servant, “that you will not take a wife for my son Isaac from the daughters of the Canaanites. Instead, go to my homeland and find him a wife from my family” (Genesis 24:2-4 paraphrased).
Being a man capable of handling details and obviously very practical in his thinking, the servant asks what he is to do if the woman in Abraham’s homeland is not willing to come back to this land. “Should I take Isaac back to the land from which you came?”
Abraham shakes his head. “No. See to it that you do not take my son back there. The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you and you shall take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath…” (verse 7).
A few important things to note here: First, Isaac is not present at this meeting. In fact, we’ll learn later in this chapter that Isaac has been away. Second, I love that Abraham keeps referring to one woman. “If she won’t follow you….” I’m going to guess that there are more than one eligible female in Abraham’s homeland for Isaac to marry. I’m also going to guess that if one woman didn’t want to go back and be Isaac’s wife, another woman would willingly step up. Yet, only one woman is on Abraham’s mind–Isaac’s future wife.
I also love Abraham’s certainty. The servant is trying to cover all of his bases. “If it doesn’t work out, what do I do?”
But Abraham is confident. “The Lord will show you who she is.”
So the servant sets out with some camels and probably a few traveling companions and they come to the place of Abraham’s family. Once they arrive in the evening, around the time the women come out to draw water from the well, the servant makes the camels kneel a little ways off from a well and he prays. “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.” He asks God to show him who the woman is by how she responds to his request for water. If when he asks for a drink she lowers her water jug and lets him drink and then offers to water his camels, she’s the one.
If only it were so easy…
And you’ll never guess what happens. A woman name Rebekah comes out and fills her water jar at the well. As she turns to head back home, the servant stops her. “Pardon me, ma’am, but could I have a drink of water?”
The woman lowers the jar and lets the man drink. When he is satisfied she says, “I will get some water for your camels too, that they may drink until they are satisfied.” The servant watches as she performs the task, not tiring until all ten camels are satisfied. As he watches, he notes her beauty and keeps his heart open, listening and watching to see if this is the woman for his master’s son. Once the woman has finished, the servant gives her a ring and two bracelets and asks who’s daughter she is.
“I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor” (verse 24). Nahor is Abraham’s brother.
The servant follows Rebekah to her home where he and his camels bed down for the night after he has explained the entire story to Rebekah’s family. In the morning the servant is eager to leave, but Rebekah’s family is hesitant. “Let the young woman remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go.”
But the servant said to them, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.”
Her family decides to ask Rebekah what she thinks. Will she go with this man to a foreign land and become a bride? “I will go,” she says. So they pack up and begin the journey home.
Now we finally get to catch up with Isaac. He’s forty years old now and has just returned from a journey of his own. He’s living in the area again, but today he is out wandering in a field meditating. I wonder what he and God are talking about. The romantic part of me wonders if he was praying for a wife. How awesome would that be? He’s praying and then all of the sudden Rebekah arrives.
Perhaps he’s praying for his father’s health. He could be dealing with the recent death of his mother. Or maybe he’s just simply dwelling on the awesome wonder of God and the beautiful sky he’s painted this evening.
Whatever he’s thinking, his mind is quickly cleared as he looks up and sees camels coming this way. Even from this distance he can tell that the person dismounting one of the camels is a woman. Before he can make out her face, she covers it with a veil and he can’t help but wonder who she is and why she’s here.
Isaac goes to meet her and sees his father’s trusted servant with her. The servant tells him an incredible story of how his father sent him away to find him a wife and God provided this woman. Isaac doesn’t know what, but there’s something about this woman that makes his heart respond. He wants to see her, know her, love her. Very quickly they are wed and it says that Isaac loved Rebekah.
(Insert contented sigh)
I love love stories. But you know why I love this one so much, why I’m sharing it now? Because neither Rebekah or Isaac were looking for this relationship to happen. God brought it about as they lived fully right where they were. Rebekah was living with her family, performing her household duties and being a daughter and friend. She took the opportunity when it came, but other than that she did nothing but respond to God’s plans. Isaac was focused on God, spending time out in a field meditating when he first saw his future wife. Neither saw it coming. Neither went looking for it. But God did it anyway.
So, what is that one thing for you that keeps drawing your thoughts forward? Are you looking for a relationship? That ideal job? The end of a season? Are you looking for an opportunity to get out of town? What thing do you think will make you happy if only you had it right now?
Whatever it is, stop looking for it. By looking ahead you are being robbed of the joy of right now, the lessons God wants to teach you here, the blessings He wants to give you now. You are being robbed of opportunities to encounter Almighty God. God knows what you need and what you want. His plans are good. Trust Him.
Stop looking for “it.”
Live in the moment.
Live in His love!