Does God notice?

“Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

“I am running away from my mistress,” she said.

Then the angel of the Lord said, “Return to your mistress and submit to her authority. I will give you more descendants than you can count. You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (God hears), for the Lord has heard about your misery.”

Thereafter Hager referred to the Lord, who had spoken to her, as El-Roi, “the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have seen the One who sees me!”

Genesis 16

*****

“Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from?”

I am running, running away from my mistress. I can answer you this, for it runs in my mind like a wheel. I am running, I am running away.

“Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where are you going?”

Do not ask me where I am going, oh shining one. I cannot answer. I am only running and I do not know where. Far away, far away, far away.

“Return—

Surely you do not mean it?

To your mistress—

Oh shining one I cannot, I cannot. To the proud mistress who treated me harshly, to the jealous mistress I supplanted, to the barren mistress before whom I tossed my shining hair and paraded my growing belly and rolled my sated eyes? I am filled with hatred for myself and for her.

And submit to her authority.”

In my mouth the bitter tastes of desert thirst and hard obedience are mingled. I do not ask you why, for there is righteousness in your command to me, but I ask you—how? This thing you are asking will be death to me and my child and I ask you this question—how can I?

“I will give you more descendants than you can count.”

The fragile life of my baby flutters against me, so frail, so helpless. This is not the end?

“You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son.”

A son! I feared I could not carry him to completion, a penalty for my pride. I feared that, born, he would fall prey to my jealous mistress. A thousand things could snuff out this tiny life, and she will never give me the chance to win another. You say he will live? He will prosper?

“You are to name him Ishmael (God hears), for the Lord has heard about your misery.”

Can it be? Here in the desert with a frail life fluttering and a heart sick crying, you heard and you saw. There in his tent you saw her hand raised against me, you heard her cruel words of shame. Not one tear, one task, one flinch escaped your view. You noticed.

Shining one, you have answered. I will give my son this name Ishmael and when I speak it, I will remember we are not forgotten. We are not lost in a void. We are not a cosmic mistake.

Your eyes are on us forever. And mine, at last, have looked up and met them.

Come, darling. Come, most precious unborn son. Mama has a long walk to take…

*****

When I speak of my faith being shaken, I mean this question most of all: Does God notice? My husband and I have walked in a long eight months of silence, waiting for God’s next move. Like every good chess player, He spends much time in thought and I am tempted to believe His mind is elsewhere. Hagar named him The God Who Sees, and it was my mentor who first spoke this sentence to me: His eyes are on you forever. Somehow, then, I know I can bear it…

If you are by chance walking in a similar time of doubt and silence, I pray He will meet you as El-Roi.

New stuff on our sidebar!

You always knew this would happen, right?

You knew that sooner or later, the pristine purity of my writing would be compromised by the cold world of materialistic capitalism, and I would become a puppet writer for Mennonite businesses.

Yep. That day is upon us. From here on out it’s going to be all about Jadebeansarethebestintheworld and TryKauffman’samazingcider.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look at our new sidebar! —->

By a strange twist of fate, I am quite excited about this advertising experiment, and I hope you will be too! To the many labels I could give my blogging (fun, therapeutic, interactive, rewarding) I am trying to add this one: productive. Forgive me for this. If we all hate it, we will stop. Promise.

What I did is I handpicked some businesses I think you’ll love. {I would so much rather do it this way, with products I actually like and trust, than sign up for a random and irritating ad service that is going to display products I object to on moral, spiritual, and sensible grounds.} I’m happy to introduce these good businesses to you lovely people, and happy to give you access to some wonderful products and services without obligating you to something. You are the most important people on this blog, and you don’t have to do anything to make this work for me.

Don’t worry. I intend to continue writing on any topic I wish including church denominations and birth control.* I am still my quirky nonsensical slightly irreverent deeply devoted to Jesus self.

(If that in itself worries you, I have no further comment to make.)

Read more on my Ad Policy page. And then, if you like, pop on over to see what these first two businesses are about, and the good stuff they offer… and watch out for more, coming in the next weeks and months.

Let the games begin!

*****

* Okay, well now maybe I’m not THAT brave.

“Why I wish I were a Mennonite”

Confession: This almost seems egotistical for a Mennonite to link to. But a friend told me about it in the last month and I was blessed. I think we could probably take a moment to hear what Mr. Taylor had to say–to celebrate what we’re good at without forgetting we don’t have it all–

What do you think? Is he representing the Mennonites you know? What do you want to be known for?

Why I Wish I Were a Mennonite
by Aaron Taylor

A Grimm Tale for Our Time

But Mom, I wish there WERE no chores.

Oh really? Oh really, small son? Then listen to my tale…

*****

In the high and far-off times, oh best beloved, before iPhones, before sliced bread, before Adam and Eve, God created two special people: the very first man and the very first woman.

Now the man’s name was Doofus and the woman’s Dilly, and they decided right from the get-go that chores were for the birds; they would have none of them.

So they sat in their beautiful garden.

And they sat.

And they sat.

After a time, Doofus said “Sure am hungry. Maybe I should rustle up some food.” But he thought of the work of hunting an animal or picking a basket of fruit. He thought about skinning and hulling and slicing and frying. He thought about these chores. And after a great deal of thought he decided—he’d sit a while longer.

After a time, Dilly said “It’s getting frosty. Maybe I should sew myself a dress to protect me from the cold night air.” But she thought about gathering the materials, and weaving the fabric, and stitching the seams. She thought about these chores and decided—not to bother.

And so they sat.

And they sat.

Doofus starved to death, Dilly died of frostbite, and God the Ever Creative Innovator started over again with a man named Adam and a woman named Eve. He put His two new people into the garden and the first thing He said to them was “Children, you have chores!”

*****

Moral: Necessity is the mother of invention.

*****

I know, I know. I committed the unpardonable in letting my main characters self-destruct. Don’t read too much into it.

I need a better moral–a lighter, funnier twist instead of dark cynicism. Suggestions? “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”? “Clothes do not make the man”? :)