When we think of wells for the purpose of getting water, the immediate thoughts are of equipment and construction. However, when it comes to wells of generosity, God calls us to a change of approach. He invites us to think more of discovering wells rather than digging them, since He (The Almighty God) has dug the wells Himself!
There is certainly a great need for resources, in order to advance God’s mission in your location and beyond. Many people in the global south however, believe that such resources should come from the West. God’s word points us in a different direction – above, not abroad! In today’s story, God provided water in the most unlikely location – the desert!
This story in Genesis reveals one of the conflicts that we often deal with in the course of our journey as believers. A scarcity mindset or an abundance mentality? Our limitations or God’s possibilities? The setting of the story is the house of the wealthiest man at the time. The major characters are Sarah, Abraham, Hagar. The minor characters are Ishmael and Isaac. Once Sarah weaned Isaac, she suddenly saw in Ishmael, a threat to the sustenance of her one and only son, Isaac. She forgot, that it was she who ‘ordered’ Abraham to get Hagar pregnant. J She went to Abraham and demanded that Ishmael and his mother be sent out of the house immediately. To where? Anywhere! She just didn’t want the boy to partake in the inheritance.
Again, Abraham ‘obeyed’ and loaded Hagar with supplies of food and water and sent her and her son, Ishmael away. For a while, Hagar felt okay since she had enough, maybe more than enough especially coming out of Abraham’s house. What she forgot was that she didn’t know where she was going! Therefore, at some point during the journey to nowhere, she ran out of water. That instantly threw her into a crisis, given her love for her only son. The question at this point is, what should she do? When we find ourselves like Hagar, at the point of not enough, what do we do? I guess a few thoughts are on your mind already.
From Hagar’s story, I would like to share a few reflections on how to respond to such a crisis and sustain your giving advantage which is your act of worship.
- Get Rid of The Scarcity Mindset
“And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs.” - Gen 21:15
I got a mail recently from a leader who catalogued his woes due to the Covid-19 pandemic and concluded that except ‘we’ intervene, his mission enterprise will end abruptly. We must do everything as Christians to get rid of the scarcity mindset that incapacitates us, cripples us, and closes our eyes temporarily to ways that God has made provision for our sustainability. Once Hagar ran of water, she could not envision anything else, to her, it was the end of the road. She forgot completely even the promise God made to her while running away from Sarah, after she was mistreated.
- Keep Hope Alive
. . . . for she said to herself, ‘let me not see the death of the boy’. So she sat opposite him, . . . and wept.” Gen 21:16
Wow! It is November 2020 and we are still here! Our prayers for the families of the departed globally. We must keep hope alive in order to discover on a continuous basis, the plans and purposes of God for our lives. Entertaining only fears, anxieties, doubts and so on in the midst of uncertainties and crises will rob us of our privileges and opportunities and inevitably hinder us from achieving God’s purpose. God had spoken to Hagar before this challenging situation that the child in her womb will live. (Gen 16). However, at this point, she forgot God’s promises completely, gave up and left the boy to die. In keeping hope alive, we should focus on the vision entrusted to us, instead of worrying about provision.
- Connect with God
“And God heard the voice of the lad. . . .Arise, lift up the lad, for I will make him a great nation.” Gen 21:17-18
Instead of despair, hopelessness and disillusionment in the face of challenges, we can determine to react differently by connecting with God in the place of prayer and intercession. The question the angel asked Hagar was rhetorical. The goal was to invite Hagar to self-examination and a realization that she was not where she ought to be. Should Hagar have reacted the way she did? Even in the face of obvious scarcity, what should we be doing? We should continue to connect with God! When we do, we position ourselves to hear God speak to and with us about our situation and circumstances.
- Experience Transformation:
“Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.” Gen 21:19a
As a result of God’s intervention, Hagar discovered what she needed most, water! What do you need most at this point in your stewardship journey? Ask God to show you where He has kept it for you. Consider this, if Hagar had gotten money instead of water, Ishmael would have died before she could get to a place to buy water. When we experience transformation in the place of prayers, God helps us to discover what we really need the most. Note that when God eventually opened her eyes, what she saw was NOT a bottle of water; it wasn’t a drum of water; it was a well of water. We serve the God of abundance who gives us more that we ask. May we always respond to Him with the generosity of our time, talent and treasures.
- Take the Initiative
“And she went and (she) filled the skin with water, and (she) gave the lad to drink.” Gen 21:19
The steps taken by Hagar once she saw the well, provide great insight on how to respond to God’s generosity. She acted responsibly. She went to the well, fetched water, and gave the boy a drink. Let me put it this way, whenever God shows you a well, go, get and give. Let us consider each of these verbs
The human mind is so complex and must be submitted daily to the Lordship of Christ. How often do we remain in one position and complain that things are not working the way we want them to work? Someone once said that you cannot pray for progress and fight change! What are you doing currently that suggests that you are headed in the direction of the resources that God has shown you? What steps have you taken that shows your commitment to take ownership of the resources that God has provided? Are there ways through your action or inaction that you are currently working against God’s provision for your life? God’s part of the deal is to show us the resources, it is our responsibility to connect and collect for onward distribution.
Imagine Hagar taking ‘selfies’ with her iPhone or Samsung S 12 when she got to the well? By the time she was done with taking her selfie and posting it on her Instagram and Twitter accounts, Ishmael would have died. No, God’s resources are not meant for display. God gives us access to His resources, so that we can collect it and then distribute it. But look at it in another way, part of the verse we are considering today stated that “she filled the skin with water”. The skin? What skin? The very skin that was emptied previously. What is the lesson here? Don’t throw away the skin once water finishes, because you will need it when God provides water again! Thank God that Hagar held on to the container although empty. What can be considered as ‘skin’ in today’s world in relation to God’s provision? I will mention just one, relationships. How are we managing some relationships that due to some reasons are not dispensing ‘water’ right now? If we ignore it or rubbish it, we may pay dearly for it when we need such relationships to fetch water someday.
Generosity is a verb. It is something you do. Of what use is a well of water, if Ishmael still dies of thirst? Unfortunately, a number of our leaders are missing in action in this regard. Some of them are good at going and getting. But when it comes to giving, they just disappear. Why do we expect God to keep supplying, when we have not used any of what He has already provided?
The primary reason God provided water was to quench Ishmael’s thirst. In the same vein, the primary reason God provides us with resources is to ensure that His vision for us, our family and ministry is nurtured. How exciting to note again that God gives in abundance, not just what is enough but more than enough. From Scripture, it is very clear that God will always look out for other faithful servants that He can trust with His resources, if the people entrusted with the resources prefer to hoard it than to give it away.
May the Lord make us channels of His resources.