By Beth Ann Olesen
This past weekend, I had the true honor and pleasure of fellowshipping with the women of NLD at the Women’s Retreat. I believe God gives us glimpses of heaven. And singing out in praise to the Lord for his love and faithfulness with one hundred other women is certainly one of them.
This year’s theme was “Women at the Well: Finding Living Water in Times of Drought.” On Saturday morning, Stacy Bartholomew beautifully depicted the story of Hagar and how God met her at a spring in the desert. Hagar, a woman who spent her life being unseen and mistreated, was seen and called by name by the Lord.
Immediately following this session, we were invited to partake in an hour of silence to sit in solitude with the Lord. As I sat during this hour and considered my connection to Hagar and how I have felt marginalized, outcast, and unseen, I had a realization.
My fear is not that I am unseen. It is that I am seen. My selfishness, my pride, my unbelief, my unwillingness to relinquish control, all of it is laid bare before Him. All my ugliness and brokenness and sin. Being seen is terrifying. You are vulnerable and raw and exposed.
My realization in my fear of being seen led me to recognize that God wasn’t pointing me to see how I connect with Hagar. God was showing me how often I am Sarah. Sarah saw a problem and instead of giving it to God, she took matters into her own hands. Throughout Genesis, Sarah’s desire for a child causes her to sin time and time again.
God sees how she treats her maidservant Hagar, and yet He still promises Abraham that she will bear a child. God hears her laugh at His promises and lie about it to His presence, and yet still Isaac is born.
God is faithful, even when Sarah’s worldly desires prevent her from being able to trust in Him. Sarah is seen in her darkest moments, and she is still loved and blessed by God.
I am convicted by the moments I try to force doors open or closed, and then attempt to convince myself that it must be God’s will; and by the moments I put Him in a box, convinced that the circumstances are just too great.
And yet. I am seen in these moments. Vulnerable. Raw. Exposed. And God meets me there. He speaks truth, reminders of who He is: a mighty warrior, the creator of heaven and earth, and the One who quiets the seas. And He reminds me that without these moments, without the realization of how often I try to force my own will, there would be no need for His grace. But that, despite the depth of my sin, His grace is sufficient for me.
Sarah was seen. And so am I. And yet God’s love for us both endures.