Monday, January 30, 2023

When Abraham Sent Away the Little Mermaid

Suggested Reading: Genesis 21:1-21

The Disney movie, The Little Mermaid, is one that I watch very differently now as a father than I did when I was growing up. I used to watch the movie and identify with Ariel, the teenage mermaid who longed for her freedom and the chance to be with the one she loved. Since I became a father, I tend to identify with King Triton, the father who wants to protect his little girl but has to make the tough decision, not only to let her go in the end, but to empower her to go live her own life. I have often wondered what that decision will be like for me, but then I think about the number of times in my life that I have been forced to let people go and I realize we have to let people go all the time.

Abraham, knew something about letting people go. We have already talked briefly about Abraham's and Sarah's choice to have a child through Hagar, Sarah's maidservant. Well, when they finally had their own son, Isaac, Hagar's son Ishmael no longer fit into Sarah's plans. When she saw Ishmael ridiculing Isaac, she decided it was time for both Ishmael and Hagar to go. Abraham disagreed because he loved Ishmael, his firstborn son. But when Abraham took the issue to God, God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son because he is your son, too" (Genesis 21:12-13, NLT). God reassured Abraham that He would care for Ishmael even though Abraham would have to let Ishmael go.  

Most of the time, we don't have to give up our children when they are as young as Ishmael was, but we often have to give up people before we are ready. We have to give up friends who move across the country, loved ones who strike out in their own direction, or people who are simply pulled away from us by circumstances. And even if we keep in contact with these people from time to time, we still feel the loss and the concern for their welfare that comes from not being directly involved in their lives. In each of these cases, while we may not have an audible promise from God, we can rest assured in God's goodness that God will provide for those we can no longer watch after. 

The choice we are faced with is will we cling to people, worrying about them when God's plan has removed them from our daily lives, or will we place them in God's hands, trusting God to care for them as we never could in the first place? Choosing to let go is not a sign that you don't care; it is a sign that you trust God. Who do you need to place in God's hands?

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