Read: Genesis 16:1-6; Isaiah 30:18-19
As is customary for us, we put up the Christmas tree during the second week in December. This year, as we pulled the various ornaments and other decorations out of the container, there it was on the bottom of the box. The fragments of what was, a delicate glass ornament. It doesn't seem to matter that we store the ornaments with a great deal of care. It is not uncommon for one of the really pretty ones to end up broken. One thing I knew for certain. There was no way that I could fix this heretofore sparkly embellishment; so, unceremoniously into the trash all its pieces went!
Even so, this morning I wondered? Could I find something on-line that I might do next time to restore another broken ornament? Sure enough, there is a technique. Unfortunately, there is a caveat written in the instructions. The one doing the craft is advised to wear a mask, as well as goggles and gloves. The possibility of glass shards flying everywhere once again left me affirming that I won't be able to turn what is broken into what is beautiful. Sometimes, wisdom demands that we say that there are things we simply can't fix or do.
Those are wise words for us concerning our every-day lives too. How often we find ourselves in a situation that seems like it is filled with little glass pieces lying on the bottom of a box. We don't know where to start to bring beauty back from the jagged pieces without piercing ourselves. Even so, we are tempted to look for a way to fix what we surely know we can't put together. We look to the Lord and see His promises, but we don't know how to get from our present circumstances to the place of beauty we know He alone can bring about. It is a times like these that our desire for what we want might lead us to rely on human wisdom rather than God's.
The situation we read about today in Genesis 16:1-6 is a picture of a choice that was guided by human reasoning. Before we even begin to look at Abraham and Sarah's decision in these few verses, I have to say that I know they must have been tired of waiting for the son God had promised, Genesis 12:1-3. As Genesis 16 begins, ten years have passed since God promised them a child. That is more than one hundred months that they hoped and waited for the promise to be fulfilled. When things aren't changing and time marches on, it is easy to give in to a plan that seems logical, even when it doesn't come from God. Oh, the bad fruit that can be produced when we don't wait for God's wisdom and timing, and that is surely what Abraham and Sarah endured. It is sad to see the bitterness and rivalry that sprang up between Sarah and Hagar. Sarah and Abraham's relationship was also affected. Even though their years of waiting for the Lord's intervention was surely difficult, in Genesis 16, we see that a great deal of additional pain entered their lives because they tried to do what God alone could bring about.
We each have or will have situations we can't fix. Like Sarah and Abraham, we can only receive the fullness of God's promises by living life in His strength and in His way. That is good news because it means that our faithfulness will allow God to give us fruitfulness. As we continue to remember that He is at work and rest in that knowledge, He will bring about what He has promised.
In Isaiah 30, we see a picture of Israel and a time when she ran to man for protection rather than God. She tried to buy protection from Egypt, and the Lord told her that such an alliance would be worthless. Even though making a treaty like that sounds like a logical human remedy, it was displeasing to God. His people were putting their trust, not in His promises, but in man's unreliable strength. Because of that, the shattering would come to the nation, Isaiah 30:14. Yet, in Isaiah 30:18-19, we see the heart of God poured out to His people. Here we see the amazing truth that God is waiting to be gracious to His people. He longs to help them because He is a faithful God. They merely have to stop trying to fix things themselves by means of their own ways and run to Him.
Where are we tempted to take matters into our own hands? It might be a small thing or a circumstance where its circumference seems to be as big as a mountain? Is weariness setting in? God invites us to tell Him all about it and to do it again and again, as needed, Psalm 62:8. Even if we have tried in our own strength and with our own human efforts to put the broken pieces together without success, we can always throw them down at God's feet because He has promised to sustain us, Psalm 55:22.
Lord, please take our "broken ornaments" and let Your beauty be seen in them.