By: Jonathan Moseley
The story of Genesis 24 is both beautiful and comforting. I love this passage for many reasons but one of them is the faith of Abraham’s servant. He’s given a task to go and find a wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac. But just how is he supposed to do this? How will he know if he’s picked the right person or not? How can he know if the woman is Abraham’s kindred? More so, there are things out of his control–like the consent of the woman. Will she trust this servant whom she’s never met to marry a person she’s never seen? Not to mention, will the family bless this arrangement? So, Abraham’s servant sets off into the unknown seeking to honor an oath he made for his master and faced with all kinds of question marks. This story intersects with our lives, because just like Abraham’s servant, we too face the uncertainty of whether or not our decisions are aligned with God’s will. What can we do to follow God when there doesn’t seem to be a clear road to walk down?
1. Obey what you know.
Abraham’s servant didn’t have much to go off of, but he did have a little. Abraham had forbidden that his servant take a wife from the daughters of the Canaanites (v. 3). These women did not fear God. A worshiper of Yahweh joined together with a worshiper of some other god(s) is a recipe for disaster. Abraham’s servant at least knew that the woman’s heart must be devoted to the one true God. He also knew this errand was not for Isaac. If the servant was unsuccessful in finding a wife in the land he was traveling to, he was not to take Isaac back along with him. Abraham knew the promises of God and believed that he and Isaac were right where they were supposed to be.
As we try to discern God’s will, we should first and foremost obey what we know. We may not have all the answers to a particular course of action, but we have words to live by: God’s words. This is the starting point to figuring out God’s will when we are uncertain. We hold fast to the black and white as we try to navigate through the gray. The Scriptures are a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Palm 119:105).
2. Commit Your Questions to the Lord.
Abraham’s servant has a legitimate concern in this wife-finding endeavor. What if he travels all this way and finds a woman that matches Abraham’s criteria only to face the woman’s unwillingness to go back with him to Isaac? (v.5)
As God calls us out to unknown waters, we will have questions, “How will God provide? How will I fit in? How will all the details come together?” Like I’ve done in my seasons of uncertainty, you probably create a list of 1,000 questions you don’t know the answer to. But faith takes these questions before God, admits the “I don’t know” and trusts God has the plan worked out.
3. Do Your Part.
Abraham’s servant shows up to the land of Nahor and he strategically waits “outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time when women go out to draw water” (v.11). In other words, he puts himself in a position to hear an answer. He does his part. There are things he cannot control, but this he can. If he’s going to find a woman for Isaac then it seems fitting to rest at this well where women come to draw water.
Discerning God’s will can be difficult sometimes, but we are not altogether passive in figuring it out. Like Abraham’s servant, we use our God-given wisdom to explore and evaluate the things we sense God calling us to. We do the work of knocking on doors while we trust God will do the opening.
4. Pray–and Pray Some More.
Upon approaching the outside of the city and waiting for the women to come out and draw water, Abraham’s servant prays: “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham” (v.12). The servant has done what he knows to do, but he’s reached his limitations. The rest is up to God, so he prays for success.
In our fast-paced Western society, nothing seems more counter intuitive to productivity than taking time to stop everything and seek God. Yet, prayer moves the hand of God as well as prepares our hearts to receive whatever plans God unfolds for us. When we are uncertain about what God may have for us, the one sure action we can hang our hats on is prayer.
5. Seek God for Assurance.
Abraham’s servant wants to make sure that what he is doing has God’s blessing. He has a plan to go down to the well and speak to the women there. He has his script ready and he asks God for the woman to respond to his words in a way that can help him know if she is God’s choice for Isaac.
“Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down 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” (v.14).
Rebekah comes to the servant and says the exact thing he requested. But even then, the servant continues to seek assurance from God: “the man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not” (v. 21).
Come to find out, Rebekah is from Abraham’s kinsmen; she fits Abraham’s criteria perfectly. Finally, the fear that Rebekah may not want to return with Abraham’s servant is answered. She consents to go and the rest is history.
For us, as we try to figure out what God wants from us, I believe it’s okay to have things in mind to ask God for that can help with the assurance we need, to know whether or not we are in God’s will. Notice this request is coming out of prayer. Abraham’s servant is praying, learning, and waiting for this overwhelming “yes” from God.
Finally, as God gives us an answer in his timing,
6) Do Not Delay in Moving Forward.
Once Abraham’s servant felt confident that Rebekah was the one whom the Lord had appointed for Isaac, he does not linger around in returning to his master. The woman’s parents try to get him and Rebekah to stick around. We can only guess why–maybe to give time for Rebekah to reconsider, maybe not. But the servant’s heart was resolute and he wanted to please his master. He doesn’t wait the proposed ten days. They pack up and go.
In our delay to obey what God has called us to, we give time for Satan to rob us of our assurance, to rekindle our questions and fears, and distract us from advancing God’s plans for our lives and the Gospel. When we know, go.
Jonathan Moseley is the Director of Community and Operations at Renewal Church.