Today we’re reading Genesis 21, Nehemiah10, Psalm 20.
This devotional is about Genesis 21.
Earlier this week I skimmed a news item about former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Christie left the office of governor earlier this week and, it is alleged that, after he was no longer the governor, he tried to use a VIP entrance at the Newark airport to bypass a security checkpoint. Instead of allowing him through, however, the TSA escorted Christie and his security team to the back of the TSA screening line.
Whether this story is accurate or not (Christie has disputed it), there are certainly many rights, privileges, and powers that he used to have as governor which are no longer his. When a person leaves a position of power, they lose the power the position gave them. The power stays with the position not with the person.
Here in Genesis 21, Abraham’s life finally achieved a measure of peace. He felt at peace with God’s promises because the son God promised him was born and had begun to grow and mature (vv. 1-8). Though it was a sad occasion, his other son Ishmael was sent away in order to ensure that Abraham’s estate would go to his son Isaac (vv. 9-21). That action gave him some peace with his wife (vv. 9-10). Although Abraham felt personally troubled about it (v. 11), God reassured him that Ishmael and Hagar would be cared for and become prosperous (vv. 11-21). Then Abraham made a peace treaty with others in his region with whom he’d had some difficulties (vv. 22-31). So some turbulent areas in his life were now settling down. As I was reading this passage and trying to visualize what it was like, I felt almost a sigh of relief when “Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba” (v. 33). It’s almost as if he planted that tree expecting to live there for a while (v. 34: “for a long time”) to enjoy its beauty and shade. So, Abraham was feeling more settled, perhaps, than he had felt in a while.
But notice what comes next in verse 33: “there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God.” This takes us back to Governor Christie. I said that the power of his office stayed with the office after Mr. Christie left it. But “the Lord” is “the Eternal God” (v. 33b). He never gives up the office; he can’t because only he can occupy it and only he is worthy of it. He is God for eternity. The circumstances of Abraham’s life were placid now but tumultuous at other points. What carried him through the tough times in his life was the knowledge that the LORD is “the eternal God.” God’s promises would not fail because he eternally held the power and position needed to make his promises true in reality.
Is your life in tumult? Do you feel distressed like Abraham did in verse 11? Is there a situation in your life where you have to settle for something different than what you want? Trust the Lord. He’s the Eternal God. His plans often perplex us, but they never cause him distress. Every tumultuous situation we face in life is a new lesson on trusting God and being at peace with his eternal plan.