Category: Through Her Eyes

I Am Not My Own

I am not my own. And I have nothing.

I have no choice. I had no choice when I was taken from Egypt and I have no choice now. Have I ever really had a choice of my own?

Not even my life or my own body belongs to me. I have no choice in what I will do with either my life or my body. I should have known that when I was taken from my mother and given to Sarai, but I didn’t. It only came home to me that I was not my own the day Sarai gave me to her husband.

I know that she wanted a child – more than anything, but why didn’t she ask her God? Was He angry with her? Was He powerless? Maybe she should have tried Isis or Amun or Heget. Surely one of our gods would have given her a child of her own.

Instead, she decided to use me, her slave, to get what she wanted. She did not explain. She did not ask. She did not see that I was frightened to be alone in that way with the master. I was only a girl, but she simply saw a vessel that belonged to her and that could deliver what she wanted.

And so it was.

What Sarai had waited for…what Sarai had hoped for…was happening inside me so easily and so quickly.

I should not have done what I did. I knew she could have me killed. After all, I belong to her. But I couldn’t help myself. She had used me and now I was carrying the child she wanted so badly. Her old body was useless while mine was young and strong and fertile. In a thousand little ways, I let her know what I thought about her and her ridiculous hopes and I flaunted my belly which was quickly becoming round with her husband’s baby.

Any fool could have predicted Sarai’s decision to complain to Abram, but I was more than a fool. I thought that Abram would spare me because of his child. I forgot it was only the offspring of a slave girl. He didn’t want to be bothered with a squabble between women. I was Sarai’s slave and she could do what she liked with me.

And so she put me out to go who knows where. Where is there to go in the wilderness when you are nothing but a useless, pregnant slave girl? No food, no water, no protection from the elements or wild animals or ruthless men?

Once again I had no choice because I was not my own.

Discarded by my mistress. Abused by my master.

Even a foolish slave could foresee the end.

Until…a voice…in the middle of nowhere, I heard a voice and it said my name.

My name!

Do you understand? The voice spoke my name. My hands still shake when I think of it. The voice – it was the angel of the Lord – knew me…me – a lost and rejected slave girl.

He asked, “Where are you going?”

A question I couldn’t really answer – just away from my mistress. As far away from her as I could get.

And then he made a request that should have seemed impossible to me, but somehow it didn’t.

“Go back to your mistress and submit to her.”

If anyone else had said it, I would have turned away in disgust. Or I would have protested. I would have said, “You don’t know my mistress. She will kill me if I go back. I can’t go back. I won’t!”

I didn’t say or do any of those things. I only listened to his words.

“I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude. Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

Before that moment I had only scoffed at the God of Abram and Sarai, but now I knew this was His voice. The LORD! And He knew me! He listened to me. He knew my child that was yet to be born. And we were His – His to look after and to care for.

The God who sees me.

I am still not my own, but it no longer matters. It is actually good because the One to whom I belong sees me. He told me to go back and so I can. I know I am safe in His care.

As I turn my feet back in the direction of Abram’s camp I know that my troubles are not over. My mistress will not be happy to see me. Nothing has really changed…

Nothing except that now I know that I am not my own because I belong to the God who sees me.

 

 

This is the fifth story in the series: Through Her Eyes. Click here to find the rest of the series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Submit to a Less Than Perfect Husband

 

Before I tell you my story, I want to make sure that you know that my husband may not be a perfect man, but he is a good man, a godly man even. He makes mistakes…big mistakes…but who doesn’t?

And you need to know that I love him, and I am absolutely sure that he loves me.

Now, the story. But where to start…

I really couldn’t believe this was happening again. I couldn’t believe it when it happened the first time. But let me tell you about the first time.

There was a famine in our land, and being practically gypsies, we broke camp and headed south looking for a place where the famine hadn’t come. We wandered all the way down into Egypt.

Now, my husband had heard stories about the people of Egypt – especially the princes of Pharaoh – and he was a little bit anxious. Maybe more than anxious. He was afraid that when the Egyptian princes got a look at me, they would kill him to get me. Now, I’m not bragging – it’s just a fact that I was considered to be quite a beautiful woman back then. Maybe you can see why the dear man was concerned.

I think I could have come up with a better plan, but this is the one Abram came up with. He said to me, “Dear wife, do me this little favor. When people ask who you are and what relation you are to me, please say that you are my sister.”

It really wasn’t a lie. I am his half sister. That’s not the problem. Perhaps you, like me, can see the problem. However, my mama taught me well. Respect your husband. Obey your husband.

And I can see you rolling your eyes about now. Respect him when he’s acting like a chicken? Obey him when he’s going to get you both in trouble?

My mama isn’t the only one who taught me some life lessons. This God that Abram had been following? He taught me a few things too. Back to that later.

So, sure enough, the princes of Pharaoh took one look and packed me off to the palace. I have to say that I was a little beside myself. What did Abram think was going to happen? Had he even considered what would surely happen to me? Didn’t he care that his wife was about to spend the rest of her life in an Egyptian harem? I expected to be called to the bedchamber of one of the princes at any moment.

But, instead, the weirdest thing happened. Pharaoh’s household began to suffer from all kinds of plagues – disgusting boils and sores, unexplained aches and pains, stomach problems. And guess who was the only one who stayed healthy through it all? Me.

Who do you think was behind all that?

The truth that I was Abram’s wife came out and Pharaoh sent a messenger to Abram. Before you know it I was on my way back to our tent along with a lot of presents which were meant to convince Abram to get out of Egypt.

Lesson learned. Right?

Time passed and God kept talking to Abram and to me too. God even made us a promise. We would have a son. Pretty incredible when you consider how old we were by then – 90 for me and 99 for him. Life was good!

Then the wander bug bit Abram again. We pulled up stakes and took off for the land of Gerar.

And – deja vu! History began to repeat itself.

I know – you’re saying, “Surely, Sarai, you put up a fight this time? Surely you at least reminded him about what happened the last time?”

I did try to very respectfully remind him, but I’m pretty sure he never heard a word. He just said, “Sarai, my darling, do me this little favor…”

And off I went to the house of Abimelech.

After a couple of months, Abimelech began to see that none of the women of his household – his wife and his female slaves – were getting pregnant. Curious and a bit worrisome.

The situation quickly became more than worrisome when God talked to Abimelech in a dream and threatened to kill him if he didn’t return me to Abram. The very next morning Abram was brought to Abimelech who was more than a little perturbed with Abram.

“What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” (Genesis 20:9)

Of course, Abimelech was right. But after he calmed down he remembered that God had also told him that Abram was a prophet who could pray for the healing of the wombs of the women of his house.

When I heard Abimelech say that God had told him that Abram was a prophet, I knew again that God was taking care of the problem Abram caused.

God was taking care of me even when my husband was making kind of crazy decisions.

No matter what Abram did…no matter what I did…no matter what foreign kings did…God was in control.

Because God was in control…because I could trust Him implicitly…I could also be obedient and respectful and submissive to my imperfect husband.

So…how do you submit to a less than perfect husband? The one that is making decisions that you know are going to go bad?

Do what I did and trust God.

He’s got it.

 

This is the fourth story in the series: Through Her Eyes. Click here to find the rest of the series.

 

 

 

 

 

photography by Unsplash.com

My Husband – A Very Important Man

No matter what my husband’s stuck-up relatives think, he is an important man here in Sodom. He sits with the other leaders of the town in the city gate. He helps to make the decisions here, so, you see, he is a very important man.

Now, of course, my dear husband is not a native of Sodom. He’s from a place far to the east of us. I know he told me about it once, but really, it can’t compare to Sodom. He never talks about that place anymore – never really talks about his family either.

His family – well, I’ve never met them. Don’t really want to. We hear rumors about them. Abram this and Abram that. I can’t see that he’s all that wonderful. Sure, he has lots of cattle and sheep and goats and camels and plenty of land, but my husband has plenty of all of that too. He owns more land than any of the other men in Sodom. And no one has even tried to count his livestock.

Yes, my husband, Lot, is a very important man.

I remember when he first came to Sodom. He was young and handsome. He dressed so well and he was free with his money. All the girls were looking and all the mamas were plotting. Much good it did any of them. He chose me. And why wouldn’t he? My family has been in Sodom forever and the men in my family have always been leaders. It was only natural that such an interesting young bachelor should look to our family for a wife.

Of course, his family had nothing to do with our marriage – apparently they never wanted him to come to Sodom. Not good enough for a member of Abram’s family, I suppose. Can you imagine? Sodom is a great city, a city with history, a city with culture, a city with everything you could want, an important city. Why wouldn’t a man like my esteemed husband be drawn to a city like Sodom?

And why should I care if a foreigner like Abram didn’t care to come to my wedding?

We’ve actually heard that Abram worships only one God. How absurd. Who does he think he is to neglect all the other gods?

And, yes, I’ve heard that old story about how Abram supposedly rescued Lot from his enemies. I am confident that my husband did not need his help. Showboating – that’s all it was. Trying to make a name for himself at the expense of my husband’s reputation. Who needs Abram or his one God?

After all, my husband is a very important man.

Last night? You’ve heard about that? Well, yes, last night was rather odd.

My husband found two strangers at the city gate and brought them home with them. Nothing extraordinary about that. Important men like Lot often entertain travelers. But, after dinner there was quite a racket at the door. A group of men wanted the strangers to come out. They just wanted to talk and perhaps have a drink together – just show the strangers a good time while they were in town.

But Lot got all upset about it and said that they were acting wickedly. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I have a feeling it had something to do with Abram’s God. I thought he had given up all of that. It’s very confusing because the next thing he said was that he would give the men our daughters instead. Why was it wrong to send the strangers out, but acceptable to send our own daughters out there?

I don’t understand at all.

Lot nearly got himself killed last night when the crowd got angry and tried to pull him out of the house. The two strangers pulled him back in and slammed the door. I was beginning to be frightened so I took my daughters into the back room and we hid. I could hear the voices of my husband and the strangers through the night and I’m pretty sure Lot went out in the middle of the night, but I could not hear the conversations and I couldn’t imagine what Lot was doing.

And now the sun has come up and I still don’t know what is happening.

There! Lot is calling us.

We must leave the city? It’s going to be destroyed? Destroyed by whom?

Abram’s God? Don’t be ridiculous! The gods of Sodom will protect us. I’m not going anywhere.

Yes, that’s what I said, but Lot ignored me and now here we are running across the plain with only a small bag of food – everything else left behind. The strangers are pulling us along.

We are leaving Sodom, my beautiful hometown! We are leaving my lovely, big home – the best in all of Sodom! We are leaving our position as the most important family in Sodom! And all because of the threats of some make-believe God?

And Lot says that we mustn’t look back. That I must never see my home again. Never see my family again. Has he completely lost his mind?

Does he really expect me to believe his uncle’s God? Does he expect me to give up everything for this God?

No, no, no!

I will look back…

What’s Going On, Mrs. Noah?

How would you have felt? I just ask you!

My husband comes home with a wild look in his eyes, calls for our sons, grabs an axe, and takes off for the woods. No explanation. Not a hint of when they’d be home again. What about dinner? No consideration – none at all.

And that was just the first day.

We’d always been a normal, respectable family. My husband had always been a good man – everybody said so. My sister, Irene, and my best friend, Nadine, said I was the lucky one. And they were right.

So what happened to him? It took forever but I finally pieced together some of the story. God had talked to him. I know, I know. It sounds crazy. Just wait ’til you hear the rest.

God told him to build a great big boat. We didn’t live by a lake or the ocean or even a river, you know, but a boat he started to build. In our backyard. Where everybody could see it. Imagine that.

The bigger that boat got the worse it got. People gawking. People laughing. And then, people avoiding us.

Nadine for one. We’d been friends since we were little girls. We met at the well every single day. No more. My best friend lost. For what? For my crazy husband’s crazy boat.

But it got worse.

My husband, God bless him, started to tell our neighbors that it was going to rain and rain and that the only way to escape was to get on his giant boat. I saw their faces. Why couldn’t he see what was coming? They laughed in his face. “What is rain, you crazy old man? Why should we be afraid of rain, whatever that is?”

I didn’t go to the well anymore. I sent one of my daughters-in-law. It was just too embarrassing. The whispered jokes. The pointing fingers. The eyes that wouldn’t meet mine. No, I stayed at home as much as possible.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, it got worse.

The boat, the ark – that’s what my husband called it – was finished. My husband and my sons started packing it with food and water and all kinds of supplies. One day, out of curiosity, I took a look inside. There were rooms for people, but there were many, many stalls and cages and coops and hutches. What insanity was this?

And then animals began to arrive. Yes, that’s what I said. They began to arrive – no shepherd driving them, no keeper of any kind. They were just coming and getting on the ark. So strange. At first everyone stayed away. I stayed in the house. There were animals we’d never seen before – animals with sharp teeth and huge claws. But, after a couple of days of this, the neighbors came out to watch. Irene, my sister, came with her children. “Sister, what is going on? What is your husband doing?”

I didn’t know, but I knew that it wasn’t him who was gathering these animals. I was beginning to think that maybe God had talked to him. “Irene, I don’t know what is going on, but I think you better get your family ready to get on the ark with us.”

“You’ve got to be kidding! Are you as crazy as your husband? I’m not getting on that ark.”

And then the sky started to look different. Describing it is hard. Gray instead of blue. It looked…well, it looked angry.

My husband told us it was time to get on the ark. He said that God was going to save us. He said that God would take care of us. I still didn’t understand, but I was afraid. More afraid of staying in my house than I was afraid of all those animals on that big boat. My husband saw that I was afraid. When I was about to lose it, he took my face in his hands and looked in my eyes and he said, “God will provide for us. He will save us.”

And I believed him.

I packed the house up and we moved into the ark. The neighbors jeered at us as we went, but I said nothing. Just as I was about to go into the big door of the ark, something wet fell on my cheek. I touched the wet spot and then another drop fell. I looked up at the angry sky and, suddenly, my face was wet. Was this it? Was this rain?

My husband called out to our neighbors once more, begging them to come on the ark with us, promising that God would save them. They laughed, they yelled evil words, and a few threw clods of dirt and even stones.

We went in the ark, but that big door was still open. Just as I was about to ask how we would shut the door, it creaked and began to move. A chill went up my spine. No one was touching that door, but it was definitely closing.

As soon as the door completely closed and my sons latched it tight, there was a booming noise and then the sound of an avalanche of drops of water hitting the wood of the ark.

The next sound I heard was the most horrible sound I have ever heard. It  was my neighbors, my friends, my family crying out for the door to be opened. My own sister was out there. My best friend was out there. Everything I had known was out there.

I caught my husband’s eyes on me and the peace I saw in his eyes instantly stopped the panic that had begun to well up in me. He believed God. He really believed God.

It was enough for me at that moment that my husband believed. But that was not the end.

The day that we knew the ark was floating. The day that I faced the fact that my sister and my friend were gone. The day that I realized those ferocious animals were not ferocious at all. The day we saw that our food supplies never seemed to diminish. The day that I realized that the stink that should be coming from such a huge company of animals and people was not happening. The day that I realized how much I loved my daughters-in-law. The day that I remembered that my husband was not crazy but was a very good man.

And then the day that God opened the door.

Sunshine, green grass, solid ground, safety, and a new start.

God had torn me away from everything I knew and depended on and He had given me something new. He had saved us and provided for us.

He had not talked to me the way he had talked to my husband, but He had shown me who He was and He had provided. No, He had not talked to me, but, like my husband, I believed!

 

This is the second story in the series, Through Her Eyes. Click here to see the first in the series.

Photography from Unsplash

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