Monday, May 16, 2011

My Trash, Your Treasure and Vice Versa

Yesterday at LCBC Church, we heard Dr. David Ashcraft talk about trusting God even in times where we feel stuck, lost, empty, crushed, or devoid of feelings all together (GREAT message and series, by the way. You can listen to the whole thing HERE:
During an illustration using the Bible story of Abram and Sarah's ill-conception (Genesis 16), He mentioned that Abram's vast fortune would be left to his servant, Eliezer, because Abram had no offspring. (Genesis 15:2 - 2 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth.)
The story goes on to explain that God promises Abram that he will have children and his descendants will be to numerous to count. 
My imagination was captured by the character, Eliezer. Eliezer had probably been with Abram for a very long time and therefore was the senior-most servant on Abram's staff. I wonder if thru all of those years he began to harbor a secret hope the Abram would never have children. Abram's mis-fortune would mean that he, Eliezer, would have un unbelievable payday upon Abram's death. I'm sure he was a dutiful and respectful servant whom carried out his responsibilities with excellence, otherwise he would have been the heir to Abram's wealth. I'm not calling Eliezer's character into question, but even the most upright person is subject to hopes and dreams. Did he dream of being an independent man? Did he dream of being affluent enough to be respected as more than a servant? If it had been me, I think I would have unwittingly set up an idealized potential future for myself, in my mind, that included the unfortunate outcome for Abram and Sarah of not ever having any children. 
Meanwhile, Abram would have been hoping for an outcome that would impact my desires for myself, no matter how secret. 
What I'm really talking about here is expectation. Expectations are a tricky thing because they are directly linked to my desires. When I find myself in "The Land Between", stuck between where I was and where I want to be, I should ask myself, "Am i feeling stuck because I'm not getting where I want to go?" AND, "Is where I want to go based upon what I want or what God wants for me?" Would I be content to stay where I am if that is the outcome God had in mind all along, even if it means never getting to the outcome that I envisioned for myself? These are questions that can only be answered with time and just living. That frustrates the crap out of a results-based laborer like myself. But they are realities I have to face. 


  1. "Results based labor" is something that's hard to get around. I call it the "performance mindset". The idea that we work to attain a goal but that's might not be what God is always aiming us towards.

    Not sure if that makes any sense. Great thoughts Michael.

  2. Well put. I find that in my land between financially, we work hard and are faithful to God first and foremost yet barely get by. I have grandparents that are well off and I would be lieing if I said the thought hasn't crossed my mind that possibly someday I could be just fine because of a possible inheritance some day. NOT hoping for that day anytime soon, yet working to get by, by the skin of my teeth I find the common thought to be, when are the blessings going to come and why can't the come now...I'm getting my doubt about that.

  3. michael...incredible thoughts. i know i've never thought about what it might look like to be in Eliezer's shoes. wow.

    i find, where i want to be or get is usually NEVER where God wants me to be. i have too little faith. the canvas on which i think i supply God to paint is rarely big enough. because his plans are usually much greater than the "arc" i'm able to to dream of for myself. and i'm thankful for that...that he thinks higher of me, or any of us, than we do of ourselves.

    it's a great reminder of the hugeness of this statement that we sing:
    "how deep the father's love for us..."

    another thought i think of is this: did Eliezer even know what God had promised to do for Abraham? did anyone? we often read about Abraham and think that everyone knew. but maybe Abraham was the only one who knew about the promise God had made. maybe...i could easily have missed some verses that would help us know. but the thought i'm left with is this: perhaps there's some dreams, perhaps promises, God gives us that should be kept personal. i know i'm all too quick to go blabbing about things when i feel God has prompted me a certain way. perhaps some of his "promises" are just for us. and we run the risk of others hijacking or manipulating those promises (what Eliezer could have possibly been tempted to do) when they're shared. just something interesting to think about. but important to have this thought against the backdrop of God's real promises or goals for us as opposed to just our own personal dreams.

    thanks for writing and challenging us with this perspective!

  4. @adam: and cool to think that God can use those moments when we're heading in directions that are really our own goals...and use them for something good, something great!