Where Are You Going?

Out of the stillness a deep Voice speaks, “Where have you come from, and where are you going?”

She turns to see who’s there, but finds no one. There is no one for miles. She is halfway between Shur and nowhere – stopped by a spring in the desert. Her swollen feet scream for rest and her growing belly, alive with new life, demands that she refresh, at least for a short while.

In her exhaustion, she pauses to think, trying to form some sort of plan. She needs some semblance of direction for she doesn’t really know where she is going, but she knows why she is going. If only she had thought this through before she ran away.

It had begun with a cold shoulder, a cutting comment.  But her mistress’s jealousy over the child growing inside of her grew in such fury that she could no longer stay. For the sake of the child growing inside of her, she wouldn’t stay. It wasn’t her idea to conceive through her mistress’s husband! This growing womb, this cause of enmity, had become too important to her to risk going back.

The Voice speaks again, “Hagar, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

If only she knew.

Hagar responds to the Voice, “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” as she gazes determined across the wide expanse of unending desert. 

The Voice pauses and then proceeds gently with, “Hagar, go back to her and submit to her.” He pauses again and then continues, whispering promises that her son will survive, her descendants will increase, she will not be forgotten.

He has heard her cry. He has seen her misery. She sees now that this Voice is the God of her master, Abraham.

Hagar looks up toward this One who has spoken life into her weary frame, and replies, “You are the God who sees me.”

For whatever pain that has occurred, for whatever struggle she will face in returning, Hagar knows that the God who sees her will not forget her. She will return and submit. She will forgive and move forward, because she is known.1Inspired from Genesis 16

During a recent trip to Rwanda, Africa, my heart was stirred by the reconciliation story of a country once torn apart by genocide. In 1994, over 800 thousand people were massacred in 100 days after years of provoked animosity between the Tutsi and Hutu tribal groups. Neighbour turned against neighbor, friend betrayed friend, and the country was left devastated and torn apart.

After the genocide, many Rwandans had no choice but to return to their homes to begin the process of rebuilding. They were forced to face the pain, grief, and anger. But it was in returning and rebuilding that they were able to move forward.

Visiting Rwanda 23 years later, I did not find that devastated country but rather a nation vibrant with hope and vision.

While there, I heard stories of Rwandan Christians who had fled the genocide and then later chose to return. They chose not only to seek reconciliation but to even serve the families of those who had killed their loved ones. Through stories like these, I’ve realized that true reconciliation is only possible through an experience of God’s supernatural love and grace.

Our God is a God who heals.  He heals broken bodies, broken minds, broken hearts, and broken relationships. Although we live in a fallen and broken world, God has the power to bring restoration and wholeness.

Hagar knew the pain of betrayal. But she also recognized that turning around and facing her past with God was the far better choice than running away from it.

I am familiar with Hagar’s initial response, and you may be too. Rather than dealing with the conflict in front of us, we often prefer to run. We don’t like to face others because we might have to face ourselves. But what I find hope in, is that when God asks us to turn around and face the other, we are met by immeasurable mercy.

It is in reading reconciliation stories like Hagar’s and listening to my Rwandan brothers and sisters in Christ, that I am reminded that while brokenness stems from human actions and choices, true healing and reconciliation comes from the grace of a powerful God.

The future is inevitable — the direction we choose to take, however, is up to us.

Does moving forward for you require dealing with something from your past? Will you trust God with your journey towards healing and reconciliation?

While I don’t know where you have come from or where you are going, let me encourage you that you are known by God. My prayer for you is that you “trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. [And that] in all your ways [you] acknowledge Him, [so that] He [can] make your path straight.” 2Proverbs 3:5-6 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Inspired from Genesis 16
2. Proverbs 3:5-6