I’ve noticed that there’s a distinct lack of the Bible in my posts. That’s because there’s a distinct lack of the Bible in my life lately. I’m trying to fix that.
I’ve found myself naturally drawn to stories about people on journeys at the moment, so I’m re-reading the story of Abraham !link! He’s one of those patriarchs that I’ve never really identified with. Maybe thats because he’s a patriarch. Anyways, I’ve read the story many times, contemplated the magnitude of it all, and just… kept going. And then we come to Sarah. I know she’s one of our biblical heroines and the mother of the nation of Israel and all that- but, well, she’s always just sounded really grumpy to me.
So this time as I’ve been following Abraham along on his journey, I’ve noticed something which never caught my eye before. Of course, as the father of the nation of Israel, a lot of his tales will be about relationships. But there’s a pattern to them: In each one, Abraham sends someone away. Sarah is sold for protection. Lot parts ways, and then is kidnapped. Hagar and Ishmael. Sarah again (suddenly I’m understanding her whole ‘woe-is-me’ outlook on life). Isaac.
Each situation is different. They’re messy, aren’t they? Some of the choices I can empathize with, and some of them I just do not understand, but the pattern is there- and there’s more. In each story, God rescues them and (with the exception of Ishmael) He brings them back.
I’m not enough of a biblical historian to be able to discuss whether there’s a deep significance to the pattern. But it has a deep significance to me. The God I worship asks for sacrifice sometimes. He asks me to make mature decisions sometimes when all I want to do is act like a petulant child. But He also rescues. And in the journey, He models a very important word: Grace.
Living with my in-laws is teaching me a lot about grace. Don’t get me wrong- I love being part of this family. And I’m tremendously grateful for the home they’ve welcomed us into. But living with anyone for an extended amount of time tests your boundaries- and teaches you that you don’t necessarily have to be limited by the lines you draw for yourself in the sand. Sometimes it’s healthy to cross them for the sake of someone else.
I’ve learned a lot about relationships in this drawn-out process of leaving. As I reflected in my very first post, I’ve gotten pretty good at saying goodbye. Or at least, I thought I was. Packing up and leaving is the easy part. The wrapping up of relationships- not so much. Maybe Father Abraham and I have something in common after all. But the reason that relationships are so messy, and that saying goodbye is so hard, is a good one- because in along the road together we’ve shared, we’ve faced difficulties, we’ve burnt bridges, and we’ve learned to when to cross boundaries and when to respect them. That’s a true gift- one that, I firmly believe, only the God of grace can teach us. And I’m grateful to God, the builder and repairer of bridges, for the many he’s given me.
Now I think I’ll go and find someone for one last cup of tea.