Genesis 16:1-6

The Birth of Ishmael

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, “You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.” And the angel of the Lord said to her,

“Now you have conceived and shall bear a son;

you shall call him Ishmael,

for the Lord has given heed to your affliction.

He shall be a wild ass of a man,

with his hand against everyone,

and everyone’s hand against him;

and he shall live at odds with all his kin.”

So she named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El-roi”; for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

Revelation 2: I-7

The Message to Ephesus

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands:

“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance. I know that you cannot tolerate evildoers; you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false. I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and that you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this is to your credit: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.”

Today I am preparing for week 2 of Vacation Bible School. This evening will commence the second three-day extravaganza where we open the doors of the church to children in the neighborhood and invite them in to experience the love of Jesus in an age-appropriate fashion. For those of you who have helped lead VBS before, you know both the excitement and the exhaustion of it, because, lets just be honest: it is often easier to love, serve, and teach slower moving adults.

This word today is not for church workers though. It is for the parents of those children we only borrow for a few hours each week. We, the church, do not raise your children and so the depth of that task is left to you. Yes we may be dealing with 100 others just like your child all at once, but you handle the joys and heartaches day in and day out, and that takes a special kind of endurance.

Can you imagine being in Hagar’s position. Having just given birth out of wedlock at her mistresses request and then thrown out to die in the wilderness with her newborn child. God came and comforted her, provided for her, but her trial was not over. It was just beginning. It’s one thing to get a behavioral diagnosis of your child from a relative or teacher, or even a doctor. It is quite another to hear it from God.

He shall be a wild ass of a man,

with his hand against everyone,

and everyone’s hand against him;

and he shall live at odds with all his kin.

That’s not a good diagnosis. It’s not something a parent wants to hear about their child. It puts gray on your head fast. Yet this “wild child” would receive a similar blessing as Isaac… an uncountable multitude of offspring. His name, like Abraham, Isaac , and Jacob, would be known across the ages. In some ways it is even more remarkable because Ishmael and Hagar both quickly fade from the story here, yet their legacy lives on today.

I believe God gave the Ephesians the key to that endurance needed to follow Him and embrace the call He has on our life. He told the church at Ephesus to remember the love you had at first. There will be days when you will want to give your child back to God. It is those days that you most need to remember how tiny and helpless they were when they were first born… And how humbled you were to be given the task of raising them, that task does not get easier over time. It grows with them. God calls us to repent from our wounded pride and remember the gifts God has given us and that it is only by His provision that we make it through each day. We endure by placing our trust in Him.

Where do you struggle with endurance?