The God who sees Me

Do you ever hear someone’s story and find yourself relating on many levels?

When we get to know people of the bible on deeper levels, we can see their humanity. We discover how real they were. Real flesh and bone. Real struggles. Real hopes and dreams. We hear them, see them, and can feel what they must have felt. In finding their humanity, we are reminded of our own. Time and culture may change, but the struggles humans deal with in a fallen world remain. People hurt us, we hurt others, and it goes on and on. Within the story of Hagar, we catch a glimpse of God’s nature. We are reminded that He, too, never changes. “For I, the Lord, do not change..” Malachi 3:6

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Hagar is first mentioned in Genesis 16 after God had promised Abraham that he would have a son. Many commentaries indicate that Hagar was an Egyptian slave given to Abraham by the Pharaoh of Egypt. If you are familiar with her story, you know that after 10 years of waiting for their promise, Sarai decides to take matters into her own hands and gives Hagar as a “second wife” to Abraham to bear an heir (yes, this was a real custom at that time). So the main points develop – Hagar becomes pregnant, conflict grows between her and Sarai (imagine that), Hagar is treated harshly by Sarai, and so Hagar runs away, pregnant and wandering in the desert.

I think about the possible messages her circumstances had given her up until this point in her life. Perhaps they were telling her, “Your value is only determined by what you can do for others”. “You are powerless.” “No one sees you.” “No one is listening.”

Life circumstances can and often do give us messages. When we are smack dab in the middle of our painful circumstances, our first response is often like Hagar’s – to run. While we may not physically run away, our thoughts and our emotions can take off like a runner at a track meet. Soon we find ourselves wandering in a wilderness of our pain. We may feel alone, unseen, and unheard.

I find great comfort in verses Genesis 16:7-8: “And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? And whither wilt thou go?’”

Because Hagar was found, it meant someone must have been looking for her. She was called by her name. She didn’t have to look around , point at herself, and ask “ Who? Are you talking to me?” We hear Hagar’s voice for the first time. I hear hurt in her voice. I hear despair. I hear humanity.

The questions she was asked shows that God wanted to hear what she had to say. Perhaps this was a turning point in her heart. A turning point in her heart because for the first time someone saw her and heard her. Someone wanted to know her personal story. She was a real person with a real story, for once the main character with her own role.

Being seen for the first time, Hagar declared Him “El Roi”- The God who sees me.”

Yes, we will be faced with the “Hagar moments” of humanity that are painful and uncomfortable. Jesus tells us we will have trouble in this world. But, in those moments, we can find comfort as we embrace the unchanging nature of our God.

Our situations will reveal His nature and character to us in a personal way. That’s what happened in the moment with Hagar. Real humanity met a real God.

He is the same God today in our stories.

He is a God who sees us. A God that hears us. A God that asks us questions like, “Where have you been?” “Where are you going?”

We, like Hagar, can be encouraged in knowing that we can declare Him to be El Roi- The God who sees me.”

Get off the Boat

Guest Post by Miss Bailey Graber

What to do in life, where to go, what to see, achieve, and experience. These are the thoughts I ponder that I can never answer.

Do I know what I want to do? Yes. How to get there? No.

Do I know where I want to go? Yes. How to get there? Nope.

Do I know what I want to see, achieve and experience? For the most part, yes! Yet again, I have no idea how to get there, so I ask myself, what is the solution?

To non-believers, the answer to the “how to get there’s” would be logical. Save money, work hard, be patient, and invest in yourself and others around you. But to those who follow God, the answer is, “Have Faith.”

For those of us who have been Christian for most of our memory, it’s easy to become comfortable in our spiritual routine of nighttime prayers and Bible studies.

But where is faith in that?

Faith isn’t present when comfort is, and comfort cannot co-exist with faith. Wait, what? What do you mean I can’t be comfortable in my bed and not have faith? I’m not talking about physical comfort. I’m talking about spiritual comfort.

Spiritual comfort and spiritual growth are complete opposites with each other. Faith is essential for spiritual growth. Growth cannot happen without pain, and, as we all know, pain is uncomfortable.

So what spiritual growth are you missing out on because of your comfort?

A great example of shifting from comfort to faith is when disciples were out at sea during a storm and saw Jesus walking on water.

The disciple Peter had a history of safe faith up to this point. In this passage, Peter not only examples what great faith looks like, but he also examples how we should change between our comfort to faith.

He went all in.

In Mathew 14:29, Jesus said, “Come,” so Peter got out of the boat experienced the miracle of walking on water.

To do this, he had to do two things. Peter had to trust Jesus to allow him to reach the destination that he was called to. Peter had to step out of the boat. Now, Peter made the transition between comfort and faith look easy, but in reality, he still struggled.

When Peter took his eyes off Jesus while on the water, he immediately sank into the sea.

Panic-stricken and fearful, Peter reached out his hand for Jesus to save him. At the end of his grasp, he found the hand of his Savior already reaching out to save him. (Spoiler, he will do the same for you, too!).

Reading this story from the security of my home, I’ve always wondered if I would be able to take those same steps, not only out of the boat but onto the water. How many of us could or would ever step out of the boat? Out of our comfortable routines in which we never improve our relationship with God?

The enemy wants us to fear stepping out of our spiritual comfort zones because repentance causes faith, faith causes change, change causes revival, and revival causes renewal.

Without that first step, new growth can never be reached.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I want to grow. I need to push myself out of my comfort zones. Sure it might cause some growing pains, but it is nothing compared to what Jesus endured for me.

I know my choice between comfort and faith. Now it’s time for you to choose.

“He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat…” -Mathew 14: 29a

Transformation

Guest Post by Miss Bailey Graber

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:2-3

The definition of transformation is: a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.

Transformation has to be thorough, which causes it to take time.

I’ve entered into a time of waiting. Waiting to hear hidden words in normal conversations, and waiting to become enlightened with what the next piece to the puzzle of my life will be.

While waiting on God’s time has proved time and time again to grow and groom God’s people for their future ministry, waiting isn’t easy.

I have always struggled with being impatient. By living in a world of immediacy, I think it has become way too easy to grow impatient.

“What do you mean my package won’t get here until Tuesday?”

“Why am I having to wait in line at the grocery store?”

” Why won’t the internet connect already?”

Even when I was just simply waiting for my sibling to get out of the restroom, I find myself growing more and more impatient. I find myself wanting instant gratification in everything.

The Bible speaks of seasons of waiting as seeds that will grow overtime. As Christians we use the word “growth” a lot. We might even pray that God would cause us to grow, but not many of us are willing to take the time to actually grow.

From seed to tree transformation occurs, but the tree does not appear suddenly after the seed is planted. The seed has to endure weather of all kinds, it has to dig through layers of dirt and rock to stay connected to its water source, and most importantly, it has to go through the process of growth.

Transformation takes time.

Most everything in the Bible always took waiting for the perfect time to occur.

When God told Abraham he was to have a son, Abraham was 75 years old. Abraham would only receive his son Isaac 25 years later. God promised the Isrialites that they would find The Promised Land, but before they did they wandered in the desert for 40 years. Even when God sent his Son to save us all from our sin, His son spent 30 years growing up so that he could complete His father’s will.

Yet, we still expect change and transformation should happen right after we ask. Sometimes I find myself wanting the fruit-bearing tree right after I planted the seed, but it doesn’t work that way. That is not the process.

Hebrews 6:12 states that through faith and patience we can inherit God’s promises.

If you, like myself, are entering or are already in that process of waiting, be patient with the process and be open to inherit God’s promises in 2021.

Transformation takes time.

The Missing Piece

Guest Post by Miss Maggie Marino

Maggie was not scheduled to write this month 😆 but she sent me this and asked me to share on Rays of Sunshine.

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Feeling Puzzled?
Confused about what’s going on?
Not certain about what is supposed to happen?
Not sure what you want to do?

Maybe Jesus is the missing piece.

When Jesus is missing everything is blurry. You’re not sure what to do, when to do it, and why it’s happening.

But, when Jesus isn’t missing, things may still be blurry but you are able to trust in God that it is for his plan.

So, feeling puzzled? Find Jesus, because he IS your missing piece.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭56:3‬ ‭

Childlike Faith

Guest Post by Mrs. Ashley Post

To have childlike faith…

Sounds so simple doesn’t it? My daughter, Elle, just recently turned three, and the excitement of Santa Claus is REAL this year. Santa’s elf is perched high on our mantle and we even got to visit with the boss himself, Santa (despite the plexiglass window). With COVID you’d think Christmas magic would be in short supply, but not with our little! She is our Buddy the elf- constantly singing loud for all to hear!

Recently, Zak (my husband), was off work, so we took the opportunity to cross off a few things on our Christmas list. While shopping it seemed everyone’s anxiety was high- whether it was the mask-wearing, news of COVID numbers increasing, or just the “holidays” in general, everyone seemed to be on edge. Needless to say, when we finally got back home we were ready for bed.

After baths, nighttime routines, and putting Walker (our five month old) to bed, Zak and I got into bed with Elle. She was already snoozing hard. Zak and I looked at each other with a sigh of relief- “what a day” we thought. All of the sudden, as clear as anything I’ve ever heard, Elle started singing “Emmanuel, Emmanuel!”- one of her children’s program songs for church. Tears immediately came to both of our eyes. She was “dream singing”! With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the magic of Santa, and the stress of finding that perfect gift- God used this simple moment to bring us back to the true meaning of Christmas- the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God spoke to my heart from so simply and sweetly from the mouth of babes. The weight of the day seemed to melt away. Did you know “Emmanuel” translated means “God with us”? *Cue the chills*

I want to encourage you this Christmas season to remember the reason we celebrate and remember your WORTH. The song “O Holy Night” has the lyric “the soul felt it’s worth”, which has never stood out to me until just recently. God loved you so much that he bankrupt heaven to send a Savior to a lost and dying world. For YOU my friend.

Times have been dark this year, there is no doubt. It is said that on the night that Jesus was born, three stars met to create the star that lit the wise men’s’ path. Light was brought to the world. Did you know that December 21st this year we will be able to see this same star on the darkest day of the year? The Christmas star. How appropriate that in this moment in time during the Christmas season, God sends this beautiful reminder that Light has and will step in forever and ever. He makes all things new again. “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel”- Matthew 1:23

We wish you and your family the merriest Christmas, this year. May God bless you and keep you!