So in this story there’s this African woman who’s been kicked out into the desert with a 13 year old son. Driven away by the father of her son and his whole family, she and her boy are now rejected, outcast, and left to wander in the desert, inevitably to die alone with no provision or protection as well as no place or portion of inheritance or promise of care or wellbeing.
The little water and food they had at first is now completely finished and the heat of the desert overcomes them both. The boy gets left by his mother under some bushes, exhausted and at the cusp of certain death. His mother is beside herself and leaves him because she simply cannot bear to see him die. She continues to walk a few hundred meters away from him and like the boy, she too falls to the ground, bursting into bitter, anguished sobbing.
The story goes on to tell us that suddenly God speaks to her and asks her what the matter is (as if it is not clear). He then continues to tell her that he has heard the boys sobbing and that she must go back and gather her son up as he is very important to him for the future of the world and is indeed even destined for international, cultural, political and historical greatness.
And then something really strange happens. The story goes on to reveal that God suddenly opens her eyes and as a result she sees a well that must have been quite close to her but that she had not been able to see at all up until this point. So she gets up, fills the empty skin that she still has with her with water from this well then walks back and gives the boy a drink.
From that point on they wander around, living in the desert and they not only survive, but they positively thrive even to the extent that the boys direct descendents are with us still today and are a noble, massive, nation, a force politically, culturally, economically and religiously to this day.
God watched over the boy as he grew up and protected and directed him into greatness and into his God appointed destiny.
Now here’s the fascinating thing for me. You see, this young child was not the child that was promised to his father as a blood heir by God himself. In other words, the boy was not the chosen first-born son in God’s plan for the father and for humanity at large. He was, in fact, the product of an apparent deviant action that was an attempt to make something happens in human strength. One could even say that the reason the boy was born was because of faithlessness and possibly even presumption and unbelief. Now how’s that for a beginning to life?
Yet even though the boy was not the promised heir and even as a consequence, a child of scorn and rejected, outcast, even chased out to perish, God not only saves him, but cares for him and weaves him into the whole eternal tapestry of his own documented history in time and space.
The other thing that intrigues me is that his mother could not see what was clearly there (the well) until God opened her eyes to do so. In fact, had he not opened her eyes she and the boy would surely have perished and we would most probably have never even heard their story. Their bones might well have been discovered sometime later and most probably regarded as unidentified “John and Jane Doe’s” long after they had fallen and rotted in the relentless, unforgiving wilderness.
So here I sit, asking myself another of those questions that begs an answer: what are we not seeing that is right before our eyes? And who is it that we and even God may seem to have cast out and rejected? Could they possibly be key players in the tapestry of eternity?
How are we treating them? how do we regard them?
Could they be eternally important to God?
Could they even be those we have outcast as people excluded from the promises and purposes of God?
And those of us who claim to have access to abundant, fresh, clear water…. who’s wells are we drinking from?