Back in 2004 Southern Living Magazine included a very deadly recipe for country biscuits. They had to pull the issue off the shelf after reports of people following this recipe and having their mixture explode. The first step of the recipe said to get a pot of water boiling and then to add a cup of shortening. The shortening then melted and floated to the top of the water This doesn’t allow any of the steam to escape. The water becomes even hotter than boiling temperature. The pressure builds up and then the shortening finally lets out the steam as it explodes! Now the shortening is flammable and 5 people reported injury when their biscuit recipe became a fireball in their kitchen.
Well what are the ingredients that cause the recipe for the good life to explode? In our story from Genesis 16 we find that every one had something to contribute.
First of all – ►Sarai Stirred in Impatience.
As much as Abram longed for an heir, we can imagine that his wife desired it all the more. To be barren in ancient times was a disgrace. Good news came in the form of a promise to her husband, Abram. God told him that he would have a child. But we learn from the text that ten years had past and still the nursery was empty. The waiting must have been excruciating.
A 4-year-old boy was traveling with his mother & constantly asking the same question over & over again? “When are we going to get there? When are we going to get there?” Finally, the mother got so irritated that she said, “We still have 90 more miles to go. So don’t ask me again when we’re going to get there.” Well, the boy was silent for a long time. Then he timidly asked, “Mom, will I still be four when we get there?”
Well Sarai is like that little boy, feeling herself age as God tarried with His promise. Then she gets a brilliant idea… Why not use a surrogate mother? It was a perfectly acceptable practice from her within her culture at the time. (Not everything acceptable in culture is acceptable to God.)
Next: ►Abram mixed in Appeasement
Abram’s motto was: “Do whatever it takes to keeps the peace.” The Prime Minister to England before the Second World War was a man by the name of Chamberlain. His strategy for dealing with the aggressive tactics of Dictator Adolf Hitler was appeasement. He declared that the peace agreement he made with this mad man was: “Peace in Our Time.” But it was far from peace. Indifference to decision making, can be as deadly as making rash decisions. Abram thought just doing what Sarai wanted would get her off his back. But doing wrong to appease another often just agitates the problem.
Finally: ►Hagar Sprinkles in an Opportunistic Spice.
Hagar is one of those opportunistic people. Their motto is: It doesn’t matter what you do… just make sure you get ahead! Do whatever it takes! She might even have thought: “Here’s my chance to upgrade my status. If I have the Master’s child, maybe I can shake off these chains.” But striking while the iron’s hot, can still leave burn marks.
Initially the dish these three are preparing seems to be coming together. Quite often ill-conceived plans work, initially. Abram is going to be a first time father. Everyone is all smiles. Plans are being made. I picture each of them with one of those large tubes of icing putting the finishing touches on the cake they have baked together.
And then, BOOM! The whole concoction blows up in their faces.
Have you ever been there…. Maybe you’re like Sarai… you like to jump the gun or maybe you are like Abram… you like to go with the flow, or perhaps you have a Hagar streak in you… you like to place your bets on the spinning roulette wheel. Then BOOM! Your circumstances blow up in your face.
Know this: Your failures aren’t fatal. Even when your circumstances sour… there is a way out of the mess. Learn the lesson of Hagar. Verse 6-15 tell how she takes the brunt of the fiasco and flees from a raging Sarai while carrying Abram’s child. God meets her at a spring by the side of the road. And there that God speaks to her. She answers the Lord calling him “the God who sees.” And then she adds: “I have now seen the One who sees me!” That knowledge is enough for Hagar to return to Abram and Sarai and have her child. God tells her to return and she obeys Him.
When one finds oneself broken down on the side of the road… or driven into exile due to bad circumstances… one might imagine themselves hidden from the God who cares. But God sees us. He sees us in our messes… even the ones we have created… and offers to clean us up… to redeem us. He alone can save us from our own baking! Praise to His name!