Today's Lectionary Text
Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his house, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but will go to my country and to my kindred and get a wife for my son Isaac.” The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land; must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” Abraham said to him, “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 birth, 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 of mine; only you must not take my son back there.” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter.
Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all kinds of choice gifts from his master; and he set out and went to Aram-naharaim, to the city of Nahor. He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water; it was toward evening, the time when women go out to draw water. And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. I am standing here by the spring of water, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. Let the girl to whom I shall say, ‘Please offer your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”
Before he had finished speaking, there was Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, coming out with her water jar on her shoulder. The girl was very fair to look upon, a virgin, whom no man had known. She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up. Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me sip a little water from your jar.” “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels. The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.
I’ve always admired people who take big risks. I’m not talking about being reckless, but rather believing in themselves or in something and seeing that faith blossom.
One famous example is author J.K. Rowling. She was a struggling single mother receiving rejection letter after rejection letter on a book she had written with a lead character named “Harry Potter.” Despite the constant negative feedback, she believed in the story she was trying to tell. Finally, she convinced an agent, who then convinced a publisher. The series of “Harry Potter” books and movies is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
In some ways, this story about the search for a wife for the patriarch Isaac is a story about one person who already had taken a big risk and another person who will be asked to do the same — all in the context of God fulfilling a divine promise.
Abraham has entered into a covenant with God over what will later be called the Promised Land, Israel, and the chosen people, the descendants of Abraham, the Jews. Abraham followed God’s instructions years earlier to leave the land he had known to travel to this new home. Abraham picked up his family and his possessions and migrated. What a risk! What faith!
Fast forward to the time of this text, when Abraham sees it as his duty to find a wife for his son, Isaac. This was not to be a marriage just of companionship but of progeny. It requires a young woman, in this case Rebekah, to do just what Abraham did: Leave the people and land that she knows to take a big risk. She does, and becomes the mother of Jacob, the very man whose name later will be changed to Israel.
The stories of Abraham and Rebekah humble me. They cause me and, I hope, you to ask ourselves when have we taken big risks for our faith? Would we at least consider it?
Thankfully, both Abraham and Rebekah were open to the idea. May we stay open-minded to God’s possibilities for us as well.
— Todd Seifert, director of communications
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious God, open our eyes and our minds to possibilities so we may see when you are offering us opportunities to take big risks for you as you continually shape and help us grow in our faith. Amen.
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