Lent 1

Then God opened the eyes and she saw a well of water… and she gave the boy, Ishmael, a drink. (Genesis 21:19)

Twice Hagar is cast into the wilderness; once by her own volition (fleeing Sarai’s anger, 16:6), and once when Abraham sends her away (21:14). One feels sorry for Hagar; young Egyptian slave-girl drawn into a plan bigger than anything she could have imagined, one with divine implications.

For Hagar the wilderness is place of desperation; a last resort when fleeing oppression (16:6), a last chance for life when she is exiled (21:14), a last tear when one is all but cried into exhaustion (21:16). But our last is never God’s last.

God sees her and offers a blessing (16:11). The Lord hears and relieves her thirst (21:19). The spring, the well; water is place of encounter with God. And not just place of meeting, but a place of seeing. ‘You are El-roi,’ Hagar says, God of seeing.

Water becomes a symbol for God’s seeing into our places of deepest need and hurt. Water; the place where we stop running from others, ourselves, the hardships we face, and we turn and run towards the only one who can really save us and quench our thirst; the one who made us for his glory, the Lord, our God.

And the really amazing thing is springs of water, wells of grace, pour forth all around us. ‘Open your eyes,’ God says to Hagar. ‘Open your eyes and see.’ (21:19)

How many times have I gone thirsty in the wilderness because I did not, would not, could not open my eyes to see the waters of blessing God has placed right in my path; surprising new direction, a ray of hope, an unexpected blessing, a glimpse of grace, a miracle. I was so thirsty for it,I could not see for looking right there in front of me.

Jesus is that Fount of Blessing; that deep well of grace and mercy that fills us to overflowing, restores us to wholeness, energizes us, and calls us back to life when we thought nothing ever could.

Jesus is the Living Water that, by grace, springs up inside us bubbling up, ‘gushing up to eternal life’ (John 4:14); a spring, a well, God blesses to us wherever we may be. Open your eyes and see. God is with you, and he will give you everything you need.

Prayer: Lord, Jesus, come fill my heart to overflowing with peace and love for you. Give me eyes to see you in moments of gray-hued ordinariness, in vivid wonder, in hidden spaces, revealed places, in another’s soul, and in the miracle of a drop of water. The water’s edge is fresh and cool, Lord. Give me courage to drink deeply of you, my Living Water, that I may feel your healing Spirit renew and replenish my soul. Amen.

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