Abraham was now a very old man, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. One day Abraham said to his oldest servant, the man in charge of his household, “…Swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.”
So the servant took an oath by putting his hand under the thigh of his master, Abraham. He swore to follow Abraham’s instructions…. and he traveled to distant Aram-naharaim.
“O Lord, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.”
Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham’s brother Nahor and his wife, Milcah. Rebekah was very beautiful and old enough to be married, but she was still a virgin. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up again.
Running over to her, the servant said, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.”
“Yes, my lord,” she answered, “have a drink.” And she quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and gave him a drink. When she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.” So she quickly emptied her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw water for all his camels.
The servant watched her in silence, wondering whether or not the Lord had given him success in his mission. Genesis 24 (selected verses)
It is well known that we women love a good romance! God created us that way, with an innate drive to love and be loved. Perhaps that is why I have always loved the story of Isaac and Rebekah.
I remember as a little girl—maybe six years old—hearing this story in Sunday School. I was hooked! I wanted to read it over and over. My parents helped me find it in my Bible, and I began to dive in. I was amazed how interconnected familiar Bible stories were. I read about Isaac and Rebekah. Then, I continued with the stories of their children, Jacob and Esau. Suddenly, I was thrust into the story of Leah and Rachel.
And that is where my love for scripture began.
Over the last two years, I’ve read my Bible cover to cover about four times. As I started at Genesis again this year, I came to this beloved story. Again, my heart was captured by this beautiful story of God’s sovereignty bringing Isaac and Rebekah together.
As a single-again woman, I’ve written many times about how I long for God to bring that right man along. As of August, I will have been single for five years—and quite honestly, it’s getting really old. I am blessed with an amazing and full life, but there is still a longing for that special someone. It’s the little things I long for: sharing my hopes and dreams as we lie down at the end of a long day, the arm around my waist as we worship together at church, walking hand in hand, having someone to curl up next to as we settle in to watch a movie. I simply miss companionship, touch, tenderness.
I know that God has told me that He is preparing someone special for me, but after a while you begin to cry out, “How much longer, God?” I know that I don’t want to short-change His work in my life by jumping into a relationship before I am ready—or before he is ready. But, the days seem to grow longer and lonelier.
As I read through this familiar story once again, I was struck by some interesting aspects that I had not seen before.
Abraham had a plan. Abraham, as always, had a very clear view of what was important when it came to finding a wife for his son. He knew that Isaac was chosen by God, the son of a promise. For Isaac to fulfill all that God had planned for him, Abraham knew that he needed the right wife—one who would love and support Isaac and follow YHWH whole-heartedly. Abraham made the requirements clear: she must be from his homeland, not a Canaanite who would lead Isaac to worship false gods.
How does this requirement apply to us? As Christians, we should not be looking for a spouse among unbelievers. If we are serious about our walk with Christ, about living out God’s purpose to its fullest extent, we must make sure that we are focused on the spiritual aspect of our relationships. I have found that when I surround myself with people who are truly seeking to walk in all the fullness of Christ, they draw me closer to Him, strengthen my Christian walk. But, when I’m surrounded by those who are marginal or unbelievers altogether, they pull me down.
It is essential that your closest and most influential relationships must be those who will draw you closer to God—or they will pull you away. Committed to purity? You better make sure anyone you date has that same commitment or you will face a much stronger temptation. Committed to ministry? Make sure that anyone you date has the same passion for sharing Christ or he/she will not understand when you are on call 24/7. Simply longing to walk closer to God? If you are dating someone who is not at least equal with you spiritually, you will find yourself hiding that aspect of your life. You will create space between you and God to eliminate space between you and your date.
Bathe it in prayer. Abraham was firmly convinced that God would take care of finding the right woman for his son Isaac. Despite the fear on behalf of the servant, he remained in a state of prayer as he set out on his mission. Even as he was praying, Rebekah came along.
Over the last few years, I have come to realize just how powerful prayer is. I’m not sure I ever really believed in or truly grasped the power that is available to us until now. As I find myself in a perpetual state of prayer—whispering short prayers throughout my day—I am constantly amazed at how heaven and earth seem to move in response to my prayers.
From very early on in this journey, I committed to praying for my future spouse. I don’t just pray that God will bring him to me, but I pray extensively for every area of his life. I pray for his walk and his talk. I pray for his job and his finances. I pray for sexual purity and freedom from anything that keeps him in bondage. I pray that he would turn from sin and walk blamelessly before God. And I pray that God would direct his heart and steps toward me.
I have seen glimpses of how God is using my prayers to prepare me, to prepare him, to bring us together. Perhaps I will never see the full extent of what my prayers have done this side of heaven, but I am convinced that our marriage will be one that brings glory to God. It will be a marriage that was born in heaven from the prayers of one committed to walking in accordance with God’s plan.
Focus on God while you wait. I think what struck me most about this entire chapter was a simple little phrase in verse 63:
Meanwhile, Isaac, whose home was in the Negev, had returned from Beer-lahai-roi. One evening as he was walking and meditating in the fields, he looked up and saw the camels coming. And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother. Genesis 24:62-67
While Abraham and his servant were out looking for this amazing woman that God was preparing for Isaac, Isaac was simply going about his daily life. He wasn’t stressed about finding that special someone. He was just walking through the fields, doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing on any ordinary day. But, I love that he was meditating. His focus was not on his future. His focus was not on the cares of this world. His focus was on God.
Isaac was more concerned about walking according to God’s plan for his life than about finding a wife. He was focused on living his life according to the commands he had been given. He was consumed with filling his mind with God’s words to him and trusting God with the outcome.
Isn’t that what we should all be doing? Going about our daily lives, focusing on God’s call, and trusting Him for the outcome? Ultimately, it’s all in His hands. If we are doing what He calls us to do, don’t we trust Him enough to handle all the details?
I’ve gone through the days of looking at every man without a ring, wondering if he might be the one God has for me. I’ve been terrified to turn anyone down just in case he might be God’s gift to me. I’ve sacrificed my walk with God to go out with men who were not passionate about God and ministry just because I thought, “Perhaps with time he will fall in love with God.”
Honestly, I’m tired of being alone. But, I’ve come to a place of peace (most days) where I trust that God is working behind the scenes to do things I can’t see or comprehend. I’ve reached a place where I know that I must only be with someone who is passionate about God and ministry. I know that I have prayed extensively for years and that God has heard my pleas. Now, I must go about my daily business focusing all my attention on God—and trusting that He is in control.
Lord Jesus, You know that I am lonely. You know that I have spent the last five years, moving closer to you. You know that I am trying to daily walk in all the fullness of Christ, focusing my time and attention on you. I know that you have heard my prayers, that you see my loneliness. I know that you have said that it is not good for man to be alone. I know that you have given me a promise—a promise that there is a man who will love you fully and completely and love me as Christ loved the church. Give me strength to stay focused on you, to avoid those who would turn my attention away from you. Give me endurance to continue running this race, trusting you with the outcome. I am so thankful that you see my journey—my future—and you know the best path to get me there. Help me to rest in you as I travel into my future. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.