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“And it happened, before he had finished speaking, that behold, Rebekah … came out with her pitcher on her shoulder” (Genesis 24:15).
Eliezer has been sent by Abraham to find a wife for Isaac among his relatives in the city of Nahor, in Mesopotamia.
Can you imagine the pressure on Eliezer? I’ve been a matchmaker a few times, but never to a couple who would figure prominently in the lineage of the Savior. That takes matchmaking to a completely different level.
He arrives by camel and lands at the well outside the city, where he knew the young women would soon arrive to draw water for the evening. Good plan, but how do you know which of the young women is destined to be Isaac’s wife? You pray. And that’s what Eliazer did. Wanting a woman of character, one who would treat Isaac with kindness and not be put out when asked to do something, he makes a request sure to filter out the sighers and eye-rollers. “Lord, let it be the one who offers a drink to not just me, but also my camels.” His ten camels … each of which is capable of drinking up to 20 gallons of water.
This would no doubt shrink the wife pool down to one.
But before Eliezer finished speaking to God, there she was. Rebekah, we are told, was “very beautiful to behold,” and she was kind, and thorough. She did everything Eliezer had prayed for, and tended to the camels until each one had drunk its fill.
If you ever doubt that God’s eyes are on you every second of your life, and that He hears your prayers before they’ve left your mouth, this should change your mind.
I love the timing of this passage in the One Year Bible, because I had a moment like this just yesterday. Five years ago, I was contracted to write a very large book which would require the gathering of an enormous amount of research. I interviewed hundreds of people, visited several countries to gather impressions and stories, read through massive amounts of archives, scanned pictures, and took copious notes. But within that first year, I had to lay the project down to work on a different book, and then another. Just as I got back to my book, I was asked to stop again and work on one for someone else. And so it went over the whole span of those five years. I didn’t mind, because I loved the person I was writing for and wanted to serve him. And I trusted that God was in the delay, and the broken and rewritten contract.
This year, I was given the green light to proceed. But my life is not the same now. Five years ago, I could devote eight hours a day to writing and still get dinner on the table before I ran down to join the ladies for Bible study. My closets were untidy; my floors could use a good scrubbing; the flower beds were pretty awful, but I managed to get the big stuff done. But now … I’m a grandma, and it’s the most wonderful role I’ve ever had. Two precious faces smiling up at me; little arms reaching to be held; hot, sleepy heads on my shoulders. Nothing matters more. My grandson and granddaughter are, for probably just a short time more, living in a small house behind mine. This means I hear tiny knocks on the back door on a daily basis. And you know what? I don’t want to have to ignore that knocking because I have a deadline.
Much more went into the decision than that. Our church has grown, and I’ve started a stage design team to decorate the platform above the stage in the sanctuary. Our women’s ministry has doubled, meaning I’m there twice a week instead of just once. And a long-dormant organizational bug has bitten me. I’m alphabetizing the spices and sandblasting the refrigerator and hauling truckloads of knickknacks to the thrift store, and it feels so, so good.
In short, I want the easy burden and light yoke Jesus promised us. I think you only get that when you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. For me, the book that hung over my head was the burden that woke me at night, and kept me awake.
So after a lot of prayer and discussion with wisdom-filled people I trust, I decided to email yesterday and let my employer know that I was stepping down from the book so I could focus more on my home and my church. The person I sent the letter to is a dear friend … almost a sister … and I didn’t want to make her life harder. I didn’t want my email to be the first brick in a wall that might grow between us. So I texted two faithful friends and asked them to pray that those things wouldn’t happen.
And then I had my own Genesis 24:15 moment. Just seconds after I sent those texts, I looked down and saw … a text from my publishing friend. “Shannon, I’m totally with you 100%. Can I call you?”
And it was all okay. We talked for a long time, and all I heard on her end was compassion. She heard my heart, and she agreed. And the burden I’d carried for these past five years … just … floated away.
“Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether” (Psalm 129:4).