We inherit traits from our biological parents. All of us acquire learned behaviors from watching them handle life. No matter how hard we try not to, we will mimic what we “caught” by observing and what we have been taught. That’s why being a parent is such a tremendous responsibility. We are teaching our children intentionally and unintentionally. How many of you remembering saying, “I will never say that to my kids!”? Then later you hear the exact words spilling out our mouth as a parent without even thinking about it! Yep, we act a lot like our parents—displaying the good and not so good.
However, had it not been for the heritage of faith in God from my parents and grandparents, I’ve wondered at times where would I be with God in my relationship with Him? I grew up knowing that God was supreme in our lives. We prayed about everything. When I stayed overnight with my grandparents, I knew that I would be joining them in reading a passage of scripture and kneeling to pray before we were tucked into our beds for the night.
I knew and accepted the habits of our faith in God. There would be prayer before ALL meals, not just on special occasions. I never had the decision to go to church or not, I didn’t even know that was even a possibility. I also never questioned it, I loved seeing all my friends and family at church. We went to church every time the doors were open. When we were not at church, we talked about church. My parents and grandparents were leaders with hearts for others to find and follow Jesus.
If we were physically sick, we sat in the back, unless you were throwing up. Our temperatures were taken and evaluated merely by the feeling of touch by the back of mom or grandma’s hand to our foreheads. Too warm? Sit in the back away from everyone else. Mom played the piano. Grandpa led the singing. Dad was a deacon who collected offering and taught Sunday School. Grandparents on both sides taught me in Sunday School at different times. I grew up thinking everyone lived like I did—until junior high. Junior high, high school then on to college tried to teach that my life was my own and there’s more to life than church. However, I clung to the faith of my elders.
A crossroads experience of faith happened when I was a young adult, newly married, with my first child on the way. Questions came to me such as why do we go to church every time the doors are open? Why do I go to church? Do I worship church more than God? Why am I responsible for the faith of others? Who is God to me? Do I really believe in the God of my parents and grandparents? Do I have a true, growing relationship with God that is intimate, not just based on the relationship my parents and grandparents see to have?
These questions rattled me and sent me to prayer for a few months. I could have thrown away all I knew about God and lived like my friends around me who even mocked me at times. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. There was too much invested in me to leave what I knew to be indeed true. That’s when my relationship with God truly began on a road to growth and intimacy in ways I cannot and will not leave behind. Like the Psalmist, I would pray,
“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spiritfrom me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” Psalm 51:10-12, NLT
God did indeed fulfill his promise to take away my sins through Jesus, His Son, replacing my wonderings with knowing Him more. His Holy Spirit guided me through my “crisis of faith” , honest questioning, to a restored joyful relationship my Heavenly Father that was all my own. There would be other times of renewing and refreshing. Throughout my life and now, God is there to see me through, not letting go of my hand that reached out to him in my young adult years. He just won’t let go of me and I’m glad and grateful, so very grateful.
We may behave like our parents in habit and traditions but our relationship with God is uniquely ours through Jesus, His Son. God’s extreme love sent His Son to earth to not only pay our debts of sin but to teach us how to live and love like Him. The more we read, think, pray and live for Him, the more we become like our Father in heaven.
Genesis 26, The Message
There was a famine in the land, as bad as the famine during the time of Abraham. And Isaac went down to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, in Gerar.
2-5 God appeared to him and said, “Don’t go down to Egypt; stay where I tell you. Stay here in this land and I’ll be with you and bless you. I’m giving you and your children all these lands, fulfilling the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. I’ll make your descendants as many as the stars in the sky and give them all these lands. All the nations of the Earth will get a blessing for themselves through your descendants. And why? Because Abraham obeyed my summons and kept my charge—my commands, my guidelines, my teachings.”
6 So Isaac stayed put in Gerar.
7 The men of the place questioned him about his wife. He said, “She’s my sister.” He was afraid to say “She’s my wife.” He was thinking, “These men might kill me to get Rebekah, she’s so beautiful.”
8-9 One day, after they had been there quite a long time, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out his window and saw Isaac fondling his wife Rebekah. Abimelech sent for Isaac and said, “So, she’s your wife. Why did you tell us ‘She’s my sister’?”
Isaac said, “Because I thought I might get killed by someone who wanted her.”
10 Abimelech said, “But think of what you might have done to us! Given a little more time, one of the men might have slept with your wife; you would have been responsible for bringing guilt down on us.”
11 Then Abimelech gave orders to his people: “Anyone who so much as lays a hand on this man or his wife dies.”
12-15 Isaac planted crops in that land and took in a huge harvest. God blessed him. The man got richer and richer by the day until he was very wealthy. He accumulated flocks and herds and many, many servants, so much so that the Philistines began to envy him. They got back at him by throwing dirt and debris into all the wells that his father’s servants had dug back in the days of his father Abraham, clogging up all the wells.
16 Finally, Abimelech told Isaac: “Leave. You’ve become far too big for us.”
17-18 So Isaac left. He camped in the valley of Gerar and settled down there. Isaac dug again the wells which were dug in the days of his father Abraham but had been clogged up by the Philistines after Abraham’s death. And he renamed them, using the original names his father had given them.
19-24 One day, as Isaac’s servants were digging in the valley, they came on a well of spring water. The shepherds of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s shepherds, claiming, “This water is ours.” So Isaac named the well Esek (Quarrel) because they quarreled over it. They dug another well and there was a difference over that one also, so he named it Sitnah (Accusation). He went on from there and dug yet another well. But there was no fighting over this one so he named it Rehoboth (Wide-Open Spaces), saying, “Now God has given us plenty of space to spread out in the land.” From there he went up to Beersheba. That very night God appeared to him and said,
I am the God of Abraham your father;
don’t fear a thing because I’m with you.
I’ll bless you and make your children flourish
because of Abraham my servant.
25 Isaac built an altar there and prayed, calling on God by name. He pitched his tent and his servants started digging another well.
26-27 Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his advisor and Phicol the head of his troops. Isaac asked them, “Why did you come to me? You hate me; you threw me out of your country.”
28-29 They said, “We’ve realized that God is on your side. We’d like to make a deal between us—a covenant that we maintain friendly relations. We haven’t bothered you in the past; we treated you kindly and let you leave us in peace. So—God’s blessing be with you!”
30-31 Isaac laid out a feast and they ate and drank together. Early in the morning they exchanged oaths. Then Isaac said good-bye and they parted as friends.
32-33 Later that same day, Isaac’s servants came to him with news about the well they had been digging, “We’ve struck water!” Isaac named the well Sheba (Oath), and that’s the name of the city, Beersheba (Oath-Well), to this day.
* * *
34-35 When Esau was forty years old he married Judith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath, daughter of Elon the Hittite. They turned out to be thorns in the sides of Isaac and Rebekah.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
How we respond to life is in direct correlation to our relationship with God. Isaac’s relationship to God is very much like his father Abraham. But Isaac also succumbs to the tactics and behaviors of Abraham when challenged in a foreign land. “She’s my sister” is one of those behaviors of Abraham (twice) that is played out again in Isaac. But God took the good and bad and led Isaac to where He needed to be with what He needed to do.
Do we rely on God or fall to our own problem-solving ways when a crisis arises?
God restores the promise and covenant he made with Abraham to his son, Isaac. I’m sure Isaac knew but a reminder is necessary to keep the covenant close to Isaac’s heart.
When questions arise, do we stand on the promises of God?
Isaac behavior over the wells is reminiscent of the behavior of Abraham and Lot. Avoiding quarrels with a resolution for peace is seen in Isaac. The good of Abraham is also seen in Isaac. God blesses Isaac to a degree that is noticeable to those who occupy the land around him. What God says he will do, He does—over and over again.
Do we really believe what God says to be really real? Our answer is a gamechanger.
Lord, Father in Heaven,
You are unchanging in your promises! I believe. I not only believe; I rely on your unchanging love, mercy and grace. I trust in you for all the details of my life. My hope is in You because you are the Hope of eternal life. I trust in you, dear Jesus, and I trust in your teachings from God, the Father to us. You taught us to pray with how to live so all would be well between us. Jesus, You paid the debt of our sins and took our punishment, clearing the way to you, God, our Father. You died and rose again to bring glory to God to show the power of God who lives in us! This sacrificial act brought us to You, dear God in relationship. I love our intimate relationship. It guides and enriches all other relationships I have on earth. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.
In Jesus Name, Amen