A Change of Character
What steps are you taking to keep your relationship with God growing strong?
The Lord called Hagar by name, and in turn, she called Him “the God Who Sees.” Hagar is the only person in Bible history to give God a name. Like Hagar, like Abraham, like Sarah, entering a relationship with God reshapes your identity and perspective. God knows your name. When you follow Him, you are no longer just a woman or a Military wife, but an heir to God’s promise.
About This Journey
God desires for women to take a step of faith and discover their place in His plan. For Military wives, dedication to Christ translates into dedication to our husbands and to Military life. In “Dedicated to God’s Plan”, we trace the steps toward a dedicated life through the journey of Abraham and Sarah in the book of Genesis.
This Week's Readings
The God Who Sees Me
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.”
13So 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.-Genesis 16:4-15
“Magic Mirror, tell me today, have all my friends had fun at play? I see Jana and Cathy, Karen and Tabitha. I see Billy and Gregory, Joseph and Ben.” Six-year-old me listened intently with the hope that my name would be called as Miss Marsha looked into her Magic Mirror. I watched Romper Room religiously, convinced that the perky TV host saw me on those rare times she called my name.
As a military wife my name and personal information sometimes do not seem very important. “Dependent” is the designation assigned to me on lists and official documents. I know my husband’s Social Security number, but often forget my own.
Hagar’s official documents might have read “slave.” Her role was to do what she was asked to do. She followed orders, and this time all it got her was Sarah’s wrath—and Abraham’s child, the reason for Sarah’s wrath. True, Hagar made a crucial mistake in going overboard with the “I’ve got something you want” attitude. Did she think she would now be seen and known as something other than slave since she was carrying Abraham’s baby? Sarah’s harsh treatment was the shove that sent Hagar on a solo journey into the wilderness.
The angel of the Lord found a despondent Hagar by a spring. He did something that had never been done by a heavenly being—he called her by name. He did not call her slave, or woman, or any of the derogatory names Sarah may have called her. He called her name—Hagar.
Even though she had been defiant and arrogant, God sent his angel to communicate a personal message, a personal promise—to her. His message was deliberate and purposeful and doesn’t even mention Abraham. God promised Hagar that—just like Abraham—she too would have many descendants.
Hagar responded by naming God “El roi”—“The God who sees me.”
The same God that saw Hagar sees you. The same God that offered hope to her dejected soul offers hope to you. If you listen close you will hear God call your name to invite you on a journey of faith, fulfillment, and an eternal future with him.
What comfort can you glean as a military wife from the encounter between Hagar and the angel of the Lord?
Lord, you see me, call me by name, and lead me out. As you go before me, help me to follow you and know your voice. Amen.
Walk Before Me
When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.-Genesis 17:1-4
“About face! Forward, march!”
Watch a group of service members in formation. Do you see a ragtag group of men and women trudging along a path? No. You see a disciplined team marching together, careful that every step is in sync. As the group marches, they are careful to listen to the superior call out commands from the front of the formation.
God Almighty visited ninety-nine year old Abraham and issued this command: “Walk before me, and be blameless.” Did God mean “toe the line and do not make a mistake”? From now on would God walk behind Abraham to make sure he did not fall out of formation? Did he expect Abraham to be perfect? Was he going to hover and make sure there were no missteps? Please hear me when I say that God is not an overbearing commander waiting to yell in your ear when you blunder.
God’s deepest desire for Abraham was that he would live his life so that every step he took was in sync with God’s will. His desire was for the natural direction of Abraham’s inner compass to point toward God’s presence, promises, and demands.
God ordered Abraham to live a blameless life. Are you kidding? Who does that? “Blameless” sounds lofty and unattainable. But perfection is not what God asked or required of Abraham. When God commanded Abraham to live a blameless life he asked him to enjoy a wholeness of relationship with him. In other words, if Abraham fully surrendered his life to following God he would be whole and complete. Abraham’s life was not to be lived in fragmented pieces—one part God, one part culture, one part what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it. His life was to be wholly committed to God and God’s purposes—and promises.
Do you feel out of step with God and his purposes today? Do you tend to look at life as compartmentalized into secular and spiritual? God wants your relationship with him to be whole and complete. His word to you today is, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.”
Almighty God, help me walk close to your side today. Keep me in step with where your Spirit leads. Amen.
A New Name
No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”-Genesis 17:5-8
When my husband was assigned to the School Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia, he regularly attended the graduation for the Drill Sergeant School. The ceremonies always brought a smile to his face as he watched young soldiers accept greater leadership responsibility. He described the scene as transformational. During a typical graduation a soldier would timidly step on to the stage. There was nothing special about the soldier’s carriage or countenance. The everyday camouflage cover was removed from the head and a drill sergeant hat donned in its place. That’s when it happened: transformation. The soldier would stand taller, chest thrust out further, leaving the stage with purpose and determination. The new title, “Drill Sergeant,” signaled a new era in the life of this soldier.
Thus far on our journey with Abraham, we have seen God call Abraham to respond to a promise and affirm that the promise would come. Now God guarantees the promise in covenant with Abraham. In this act (and an earlier encounter in Genesis 15:7–21), God made a formal and legally binding pledge, or grant, that he would guarantee his promise to Abraham and his offspring.
God made this promise to Abraham when he first left Ur, but in this scene it is as if Abraham finally grasped the concept. He fell on his face before God as a sign of acceptance of God’s command. A new era was signaled when God said, “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:5).
In biblical times names were much more than identification labels. They signified a person’s character or destiny. This change in name for Abraham (and soon for Sarah), symbolized the internal change that had taken place. The names were changed by God himself and represented God’s seal on their future in his divine plan. As they walked closer to God, their priorities changed, and so did their role in history.
An encounter with God Almighty changes a person. How have you changed since becoming a Christ-follower? What steps are you taking to keep your relationship with God growing strong?
Increase my knowledge of you, Lord. Help me know your will and walk in a manner worthy of you. Amen.
A Unique Birth Announcement
They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”-Genesis 18:9-15
Perhaps you have seen clever birth announcements from military families. Such creative notices of a new addition bring a smile to my face. For instance:
“Reporting for Duty (projected date of birth).”
“I’m being promoted to big sister/brother.” (Sign held by older child.)
“The Jenkins family will have a new recruit (projected date of birth).”
The announcement from the three strangers who visited Abraham’s camp that a child would be born to Abraham and Sarah did not just bring a smile—it brought a guffaw of laughter. Honestly, can you blame Sarah for laughing? That sure would be my response if I was a ninety-plus year old woman.
Sarah’s laughter was met with one of the greatest statements in Scripture: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Such words challenge the core of faith. The words held no rebuke, but were rather a gentle reminder that God knew Sarah’s name, as well as her thoughts, and he—and only he—was able to bring such an impossible event to pass.
Through this unusual visit Sarah was drawn into full ownership of her part in the covenant promise. For Sarah to become pregnant was not reasonable, but faith transcends reason. Although her body was no longer naturally capable of becoming pregnant, God extended a personal invitation for her to become the mother of nations. A door of hope for the future was opened to Sarah that day, and it should bring a smile to each of our faces. That door of hope remains open for each of us through Christ, the ultimate fulfillment of the promise to Abraham.
Has God ever led you to do something you thought was impossible? Are you facing something that seems impossible today? “Is anything too hard for God?” is not meant to be a verse we claim in order to change our circumstances. God can certainly change circumstances, but sometimes the toughest thing for us is to accept our circumstances and grow through them.
Thank you for being the God of the impossible. I bring my list of impossibilities to you and ask for your grace to look at them through the lens of trust. Increase my faith in you as the one who is able to do so much more than I can ever ask for, or even think of. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20)
Because of Abraham
Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”
So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.-Genesis 18:16-33
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.
Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.-Genesis 19:1-29
“If it were not for _______________, I would never have made it as a military wife.”
Does a name, or names, immediately come to mind when you look at this blank? Without hesitation, I would write the name Sandra. Sandra taught me about the fundamentals of military life. I learned from her gracious example, as well as her responses to my myriad questions. The most important thing she taught me, however, was how to care for people in my sphere of influence. Sandra was the wife of the battalion commander at my husband’s first military assignment. She introduced herself the day we moved into military quarters. Soon afterward, she invited me to meet with her each week to pray for the military families in the battalion. In retrospect, I’m not sure what I expected from a commander’s wife, but I can say with conviction that prayer meetings were not on the list.
Sandra’s call to prayer illustrates a Christian principle: Christian maturity exhibits itself in caring for people. Abraham’s request of God to spare the city of Sodom was a good indicator that his relationship with God was growing. The situation in Sodom was beyond serious. The strangers who had just announced the wonderful news about the birth of a baby now announced horrific news about the destruction of a city. Abraham did not want to accept God’s plan for such severe judgment. There were people in the city. He had relatives in that city—remember Lot?
Here we see a baffled Abraham standing before a patient God who was waiting for Abraham to intercede on behalf of people in crisis. Abraham found his voice. This time he did not use it to lie about the identity of his wife, or laugh because he could not believe he would be a father. He used his voice to petition God on behalf of the needs of others. At first, he seemed a little hesitant to make such a request of God, but his tentative appeal became bolder as he asked for mercy even if only ten righteous people were to be found in the city.
Sadly, there were not even ten, but because of Abraham, Lot and his family were escorted out of town before the destruction came. Your prayers on behalf of others make a difference. Who will eventually write your name in their blank?
Do you regularly pray for the service members and families in your husbands military unit? Is there someone who would join you in praying together consistently?
Lord, help me show my love for others through consistent prayer on their behalf. Thank you for the privilege of prayer and the promise that you are a God who hears. Amen.
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