Archive for August, 2009

Aug 31 2009

Hagar Wasn’t Alone and Neither Are You

Published by under Life

There’s something about nighttime. Things stop moving and your heart seems to beat a little different.

There’s a commercial on TV right now that is one of my favorites.

You’re not alone.

It happens too often that people walk through life feeling alone – even when they’re surrounded by people. We all go through seasons like that.

If you’re in a tough spot right now, I want you to know you’re not alone.

There are other people out there feeling like no one gets them.

There are other people out there feeling that no one likes them.

People who don’t know what they want to do with their lives.

Other people who look back at pictures of themselves as a younger boy or girl and wonder where the years have gone (if even only a few years have passed since the pictures).

There are other people who feel like they should be doing more with their lives.

And other people who don’t know why they’re not married yet. Or married and in a very tough spot relationally.

There are other people struggling financially.

There are other people who have been grievously wronged. And also others who have committed grievous wrongs.

This is life. And for the people we know in our lives, while the struggles differ, one theme in constant – struggle itself.

Hagar Wasn’t Alone
A crazy thing happened in Genesis 16. Abraham and Sarah are married and Sarah can’t get pregnant. Sarah has Abraham marry their maidservant, Hagar, so Abraham can sleep with her and a child can be born. The plan succeeds – Hagar gets pregnant. And Sarah despises her. She’s jealous and treats Hagar terribly to the point that Hagar must flee their house. Hagar wanders into the desert and eventually stops to rest at a spring. An angel of the Lord comes to Hagar and tells her she must go back to Sarah. The angel also brings good news – Hagar’s descendants will be “too numerous to count.”

Ok, recap. Situation: total mess. Polygamy, adultery, jealousy, anger, sadness, brokenness. Imagine how alone Hagar might have felt – rejected from the only life she knew. I wonder how she talked to God during that time.

The angel tells Hagar that the child she’s carrying is to be named Ishmael – a name that means “God hears.” In return, Hagar gives God a new name – El Roi – “The God who sees.”

In one event, in the midst of what we see as pure badness, God confirms that He hears Hagar and Hagar believes Him, telling Him, “You are the God who sees.”

You’re Not Alone
Feel like no one gets you? That no one likes you? That you’re messing up your life? Struggling relationally, professionally, financially, emotionally, spiritually? Sad you’re hurting orthat you’ve hurt others? You’re not alone. There are people around you who feel the same way. But they hide it just like you. Heck…_I_ hide it just like you.

And something else too often remains hidden. That God is with you. He hears the thoughts you think and He sees the things you do. He hears you. He sees you. And if that makes you angry – makes you think, “Well, no, He DOESN’T see me because I’m hurting and He’s not doing anything about it” – there are other people who feel like that, too. And it’s ok. There other people still who have been there and come through to know the truth – you’re not alone.

And that’s why I like the nighttime – why I like writing at 1:30am. Because at an hour when I AM actually alone, I don’t feel that way. It’s hard to be angry and distant from God when everything’s quiet, you’re no longer so distracted, and you’re too tired to keep your facade up. It’s a time like this when the words of the Father and Jesus press themselves home …

“Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.”

“…and surely I am with you always…”

If you’re feeling down, breathe deep, friend. Hagar wasn’t alone and neither are you. You’ve got company – even if it doesn’t feel so. He hears you. He sees you.

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Aug 14 2009

Book Review: Andy Andrews – The Noticer

Published by under Book Reviews

The Noticer is the fictional account of an old, wise character named Jones who has encounters with people from varied walks of life (teenagers, busy business people, old women, etc). Along the way, Jones dispenses bits of wisdom to each – what he describes as changes in perspective.

Without being specific and ruining the book, the wisdom ranges from a few cliche nuggets, one tried-and-true observation about how humans interact, and a number of fairly profound truths that stuck out to me as memorable.

In an age of blogs, it is interesting that, absent a storyline, the content of Andrews’ book could probably be covered in a single, albeit lengthy, blog post. But seeing wisdom imparted to the messy lives of other people can oftentimes make the wisdom more applicable to our own, messy lives.

Published by Thomas Nelson, Christians may wonder about spiritual value in the book. Jesus isn’t mentioned by name, nor is salvation or sinfulness outrightly discussed. It is mostly about the redemption of broken human situations that we can all identify with.

Concluding the book is a study guide that uses the book’s stories as a gateway to examine our own lives. I found many of the questions helpful.

Overall, my rating is 3 out of 5 stars. It is easy to read in 2-4 hours. The nuggets of worthwhile wisdom are particularly good but some of the more cliche moments prevented me from being blown away. Should you spend your money on this book? If you love allegory or are a sentimentalist (I use that word in the nicest sense), you’ll LOVE this book. If you desire rigid logic and don’t like wading through story to find truth, you won’t like it as much. It’s a good read while travelling or unwinding.

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