Saturday I attended the Beth Moore Simulcast. She was teaching from Atlanta, and it was broadcast live throughout North America and the Bahamas. This was my fourth simulcast and I knew a little of what to expect.
I wasn't disappointed.
I love being a part of something big. Parades, concerts, a Gator football game in The Swamp. There's something exciting about sharing an event with lots of people. The simulcast Saturday was a big event. Bigger than it had ever been before.
That is if you call 300,000 a big crowd. I definitely do, and apparently Beth Moore and her worship leader Travis Cottrell did too. They appeared awestruck as it was announced that approximately 300,000 women had come together, even if in different places, to worship God and to hear what He had to say through Beth.
Travis Cottrell, who recently won a Dove award for his album, Jesus Saves, began the morning by reminding us that "we weren't one mass of 300,000. But, that to God, we were a mass of 300,000 one's." My heart seemed to skip a beat as I thought, even in this crowd, God's eyes found me. To Him, I wasn't just another. I wasn't just a part, I was a whole.
I was participating in the event with 900 women on the same church campus. I'm confident that their hearts skipped a beat too, as they felt their Father's eyes on them.
I taught 4 year olds for 16 years. Those 16 years included many Christmas programs and graduation programs. I don't know the number, but I do know there were many, many precious little faces and many, many loving and caring parents that I met during that time. And though I can't tell you the exact number, I can tell you that I never had a parent come up to me during a program and ask me which child was theirs. I never had a parent tell me that they couldn't recognize which little face belonged to them. I never had a parent that was more interested in taking pictures of someone else's child than taking pictures of their own. I have actually seen parents do some pretty crazy things, and get in some really weird positions, to get a clear view of their child to take the perfect picture. Laying in the floor. Standing on church pews. Forgetting there was any one else in the room.
I also remember seeing the eyes of the children light-up when they made eye contact with their parents. They waved and grinned their biggest smiles.
There's nothing like being seen by the ones you love.
Mommies and daddies know the faces of their children. And I was reminded Saturday, in a crowd of 300,000 that my Father knows mine. Yes. My heart skipped a beat.
However, 24 hours later, my heart was skipping a beat for a different reason. I found myself sitting on my front porch dealing with a "heart-wound" that just won't heal. I'm confident one day it will, but I'm tired of waiting. I'm tired of the energy it takes to deal with it. I'm tired of the distraction it brings. Actually, I'm not just tired of it, I'm sick of it. Looking up into the blue sky, through one or two tears, or 100 or 200, I told God that I knew, after everything that I had seen Him do, that I should have the faith to trust Him with "it." But, with this particular wound, I was spent. I asked for the grace to trust Him with it. And then I said, "If I just know you see me... if I just know you see me in this... I'll be OK."
I know. I know. Just 24 hours before, I was convinced God saw me. That His eyes were on me.
How could I have forgotten so quickly? Where had the truth gone?
I was the "...one who doubts and is like the waves on the sea being tossed around by the wind." (James 1:6) The wind was my "heart wound," and it was tossing me around and making me forget.
I had forgotten, and I had let the truth slip away, but I did have the faith, as I was being tossed around, to ask. To ask God to have it back. And I knew He could, and would, give it to me.
I came in the house to start dinner and God brought the Egyptian slave girl, Hagar, to my mind. Why do I believe that it was God that brought her to my mind? Because I had asked Him for the grace to believe He saw me, and I just don't usually happen to think of Egyptian slave girls.
Hagar was the handmaiden to Sarai, Abram's wife. Hagar was an Egyptian woman that had probably been acquired by Sarai and Abram, when they went to Egypt to find relief from a famine. God had promised Abram a son, and they had not see His promise fulfilled. Abram was 86 and Sarai was 76. It seems that Sarai decided if she was going to have her baby, she needed to help God with His promise. She suggested to Abram that he have a child with Hagar. In their culture, that was an acceptable practice. But taking over for God is never acceptable. Even back then.
Hagar became pregnant and apparently began to taunt Sarai about the child she was going to give Abram. The child Sarai couldn't give him. Sarai went to Abram for help. He told her to deal with Hagar herself. And, she did. The Bible tells us that Sarai abused Hagar. I've heard teachers say that it was a physical abuse. I don't know if that's true or not, but obviously the abuse, whatever it was, was painful enough for Hagar to run away. She then found herself alone in the wilderness.
I've read a couple of commentaries concerning Hagar in the last few days. And, I'm convinced they were written by men. They don't seem to show a lot of compassion for her.
This story is like a modern day soap-opera. But that isn't why it touches my heart. I see Hagar as a victim. An unseen victim. She was a victim of her own pride when she taunted Sarai, but she had also become a victim long before that.
Hagar was taken from her family, her home, and her culture. She had the life of a slave with no choices about how she was to live. She wasn't allowed to have any dreams of her own. She was there to help fulfill the dreams of others. I don't know if Hagar volunteered to be Sarai's hand-maiden (which is just a nice word for slave), but most slaves never volunteer for the job.
Hagar had become the means for a baby, instead of a mother for a baby. Even though she was carrying the baby, by law at that time the baby would belong to Abram and Sarai.
I imagine Hagar thought that carrying Abram's baby would put her on equal footing with Sarai. Maybe not equal, but surely she would be treated differently. Maybe the tables were turning for Hagar. She might even be included in the family. Maybe she would be given a little respect. Maybe she would be seen for whom she really was, and not for the role she had been given. Maybe now, some of the dreams she had dreamed secretly, she would see come to pass. But her hopes were dashed when Abram didn't defend her ,and she realized she would never be anymore than a slave.
Maybe I feel for Hagar because I have been in similar situations. I've felt that this would make me acceptable. That this would make me respected. Surely this would make me valuable. This would help me to be seen. But, it didn't happen. The "this-es" didn't work. They never do.
Hagar, pregnant and alone, finds herself in the wilderness with all its dangers and uncertainties. She is sitting by a fountain of water and the "Angel of the Lord" sees her. Not only does He see her, He talks to her. He sees, and talks, to an abused and abusive pregnant Egyptian slave girl. The love and plans God had for Abram and Sarai, did not keep Him from seeing this slave. While Hagar had gone unseen by others, she was now seen by God Himself. She called Him "You- Are-The God-Who Sees."
Then Hagar said something I just love. She said, "Yes. He saw me; and then I saw Him!"
Knowing that He sees us always makes us see Him. It makes us see Him in all of His compassion towards us, His power in our weakness, and His healing in our wounds.
He sees me alright. He saw me when I was sitting with 299,999 other women, worshiping and seeking Him. He sees me when my heart is full of confidence and faith in Him. When I'm standing tall and my feet are sure. And God sees me when I'm sitting out on my front porch, with my faith spent and my eyes red. He sees me when I've found myself, like Hagar, alone and facing uncertainties and dangers in the wilderness.
I am never out of His sight. His eyes are always on me.
He's "My-God-Who -Sees-Me."