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Posts in Beth Hildebrand
When You're Stuck Between A Rock And A Hard Place

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.”

(NIV) Isaiah 43:1

You, friend are precious and honored in God’s sight. God’s vision. God has such an amazing vision for you. He sees you redeemed. He sees you as His own. He summons you by name. He says, “(Your name) – you are mine. The vision I have for you is beyond your own vision because I can see ahead the amazing things you’ll do for me if you’ll take the risk, be obedient and search my Truth to guide you each step.”

The Message translation reads:

“But now,God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place… “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end— Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you… That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.”

(Isaiah 43:1)

Again, because you need to keep this in your heart and head - God says, “I have a vision for you, friend, even when you’re in over your head and in between a rock and a hard place. It’s not a dead end because I am God and can redeem you from it all. I want to and will because I love you.”

He does. A lot. More than you can fathom.

How Is Kindness Like Snow?

Last week, the day after our wonder-full, snowy day, I was scrolling through Instagram and sawa picture of one of my daughter’s friends, who was throwing a handful of snow in the air, added

“Kindness is like snow – it beautifies everything it covers.”

The kindness of God covered a small group of people about 4000 years ago and here’s their names and a little bit about them:

• Eliezer was Abraham’s head-honcho servant because he trusted Eliezer the most. So much, that if Abraham had never had a son, Eliezer would become his heir. They had a good relationship due to years of being together and the promises they gave each other were honest and sincere. • Isaac was Abraham’s son • Rebekah was a young woman who would become Isaac’s wife • Laban was Rebekah’s brother who spent some time with Eliezer.

God made sure this happening made it into His Book, the Bible, to use as a teaching moment for generations to follow and I think one of the main lessons is about kindness – simple and sincere acts of kindness.

Here’s a summary of Genesis 24, but I suggest going and reading all of it after reading this. Abraham wanted to find his God-given son, Isaac, a wonderful wife, so he asked Eliezer to assist him with this endeavor. Abraham was very serious about Isaac having a godly wife, so he was serious when he had Eliezer give an oath to do as he asked. Eliezer didn’t give this oath begrudgingly because Abraham had always been kind to him and he wanted to return the kindness. To promise Abraham that he’d do his best, Eliezer put his hand underneath Abraham’s thigh and swore he would. Yes, I think it’s kind of strange, but maybe they’d think us shaking hands as an agreement is odd.

So on a camel, Eliezer took off to find a wife for Isaac with 10 other camels and servants to assist him. When they arrived at the town of Nahor, he had the camels kneel down near the well, where women came to gather water.

Eliezer was not only Abraham’s servant, but he was also a man devoted to God. Just in the one chapter of Genesis, he praised God and prayed several times. He prayed to God before he made any actions. He asked for God to direct him in this endeavor and that God would receive the glory for whatever happened. He prayed, “Oh Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.” (24:12) In that prayer alone, it shows the kindness he had in his heart praying for Abraham and his family. God returned his kindness by answering Eliezer’s specific prayer.

Before Eliezer finished praying, he saw a young woman (Rebekah) at the spring and when she finished filling her jar with water, Eliezer asked her if he could have a small drink of her water. With kindness in her voice she said, “Yes, lord…and I’ll also get water for your camels”. Now let’s do the math. There were ten camels. One camel often drinks up to 20 gallons at one time. Now multiply that by 10. That would add up to be at least an hour of hard work. She didn’t have to offer that kindness but she did.

The kindness of God, Eliezer and Rebekah flowed out like water pouring from a jar into the mouths of thirsty men and camels.

Eliezer had no idea she would offer them water as well. But he offered her jewelry and asked her if her family had room for him to stay the night. She said there was plenty of space and he of course could come and stay. Before he took the first step to follow her, he prayed and praised God for answering his prayer. “Praise to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness…as for me the Lord has led me on the journey here.” He gave God all the credit.

Once arriving, Eliezer met Rebekah’s family, including her brother Laban who loved his sister. Kindness must be in their blood because he invited Eliezer to stay the night, provided a place for the camels to rest and water for the other servants who traveled with Eliezer to wash their feet. Laban then fed all of them. He opened his home as a place to stay the night and fed a bunch of strangers. That, my friends, is an act of kindness. As they ate, Eliezer just had to tell them how God was so good and answered his prayers and how all of this fell into place because of God’s faithfulness and goodness.

The next day Eliezer was ready to head back to Issac and Abraham, but Rebekah’s family wanted her to wait for ten days before she left. Eliezer was persistent saying he really wanted to leave that day. Rebekah replied to everyone, “I will go.”

One of the most remarkable things about Rebekah is her total willingness to leave all to be with a bridegroom she has never seen. Her words “I will go” are worthy words of faith. Haven’t we also heard many others in God’s Word who have said those same words? I think Jesus has the desire for us to say that to Him, too.

At the end of this holy encounter, Eliezer and Rebekah arrived close to home, and Isaac, who was meditating out in a field, saw them approaching in the distance. His heart skipped a beat and with excitement imagined what she looked like and wondered if she would love him. But he trusted the Lord because He was good to his father Abraham, and had faith that God would bless him, too. I can see Rebekah, with a veil over her face, gracefully being lowered off the camel with a humble smile on her face as they saw each other for the first time. I like to think that they fell in love at first sight. The got married and Scripture says, “Isaac loved her.”

So what are we to take from that? Most of us don’t ride on camels for transportation, have servants who live in our house and manage it, or get married a few days after you meet someone.

For me, it’s been a lesson about kindness. It’s about being humble to our authority and to others. It’s about the kindness of the Lord who bestows blessings on those who praise Him and give Him the glory for all things. It’s about the kindness of being respectful and kind to strangers. It’s about being sincere and selfless instead of selfish. And kindness and love are a match made in heaven. Kindness IS a beautiful thing.

Beth

When Hope Comes Down

It's November 6th. And as the classic Andy Williams sings, "It’s (already) beginning to look a lot like Christmas". There's already TV commercials on TV ads of people wearing their Santa hats and kids opening gifts on Christmas morning. Stores quickly got rid of the fall decorations to put up the Christmas trees, wreathes and gift sets of cheeses and perfumes. My daughter started listening to Christmas music before the end of October! Right now I'm in Miami, Florida and there’s even a tall building where I’m looking out in the warm Miami sun with a ginormous wreath on the front of the sky-rise.

On November 1st my friend, whom I share an office with at work, and I were also about ready to listen to Christmas music at the beginning of November, and we did for about half an hour, but we weren’t quite ready and changed it to some good 70s and 80s music. But now it IS time to listen to it because it’s after Thanksgiving and I personally think, it’s officially the Christmas season. It also means it’s the first week of Advent, a tradition that has been passed down for thousands of years – the anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Jesus, when God became flesh and lived here on this earth for about 30 years.

At the beginning of November, I was in Miami, FL with my husband for a few days while he was at a conference for work. It has been the busiest schedule this fall and now that I’ve gone back to work after 17 years, it’s been an adjustment to what I’ve been used to. So, this was a needed break that I relishing and did the things that charge me up - reading, writing and listening. And since I was sitting outside at the pool, seeing this big Christmas wreath, I couldn’t help but think during this holiday season, it’s supposed to be a time for us to slow down, pay attention, listen, be at peace, realize all the things we need to be thankful for and the anticipation and joy of our Savior’s arrival. Even though Miami was anything but quiet and slow, I felt that way in my own little world there.

It made me think how life speeds up (probably over the speed limit sometimes), so much that we don’t have time to thank or reflect. We’re bombarded with extra responsibilities, shopping, gatherings, having to continuously warn our children they might get coal in their stockings if they don’t calm down and be-have! We’re bombarded with the world and the bombs being launched, social unrest, natural devastations, and evil. I can’t get off my mind the killing of 26 Christians while they were worshipping our God as a man comes in and guns almost half of them down.

How can we have any hope or peace in this crazy world, especially in the weeks to come when it’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”? Sometimes, especially during this holiday season, hope and joy feel like they've run dry in a desert with no sign of an oasis. It makes me think of Job in the Bible when he raised his voice and cried out in distress and desperation, “Where is my hope (in this crazy world)? Can anyone find it?” (Job 17:15) His spirit was crushed. He was in physical and emotional pain and now was pretty upset with God for allowing all these really hard and difficult things to happen to him.

God heard Job’s cry. He hears the cries of the loved ones of, and the victims in, the church shooting. He hears my cries and yours too as we sometimes feel frantic, overwhelmed, stressed or heart-broken. And that’s why He sent HOPE down to us. Hope that heals. Hope that comforts. Hope that restores joy. Hope that triumphs over our hopelessness.

On Christmas day, God gave us the gift of Hope. Imagine and believe this:

All of the angels lifted up their voices, And filled the night with Hallelujah's, God is with us now, Everyone come and join the heavenly chorus, Our Savior King is here before us, All to hear the sound The song creation sang When Hope Came Down, So let us sing Redemption Song, Let us worship Christ the Holy one, We were lost, but we were found, When Hope Came Down, When Hope Came Down. (Kari Jobe)

And you know – we don’t have to celebrate Jesus’ birth and the gift of hope just on December 25th. We should celebrate Christmas and Easter every day! Let's be thankful for the hope Jesus never stops giving us.

Beth