Our journey with Abraham’s servant is almost at its end. He’s given us two secrets for successful missions—pray in faith and stay laser-focused—and today he’s got one final secret for us before we part ways. Let’s re-orient ourselves in Genesis 24. Abe’s servant’s mission was to find a wife for Abe’s son, Isaac who meets these criteria: 1. She must be a relative of Abraham’s. 2. She must be willing to go. He’s traveled to where Abe’s relatives live and stopped at a well where he asks God to single out Isaac’s wife by fulfilling a specific sign. A young woman named Rebekah fulfills this sign and reveals that she is a relative of Abe’s—check that off the list! The servant is invited to stay with her family overnight, where he tells of his quest and Rebekah’s completion of his desired “sign.” Her family agrees that she should go and become Isaac’s wife, so he sets our to return to Abe with Rebekah the very next morning. Her family would like her to stay with them another ten days, but he insists that they not delay.
Here we pick up the narrative in verse 57. At the servant’s desire to head back home with the bride-to-be ASAP, Rebekah’s mother and brother call Rebekah and ask her if she’s ready to go. She says, “Yes, I will go.” Her willingness to go checks the second item off of Abe’s prescribed must-be list for Isaac’s wifey—in case there was any remnant of doubt, the servant’s mission has been 100% successful! They head back to Abe’s place, meeting Isaac in the fields on their way. The servant retells the whole story to Isaac, and the chapter ends with this sweet verse: “And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her very deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother” (Gen. 24:67). In a time of arranged marriages, I imagine that deep love and “special comfort” like Isaac and Rebekah experienced were icing on the cake! Once again we see God going above and beyond in blessing His children.
Now let’s double back and zoom in on the third secret for successful missions, something that the servant has done numerous times throughout this venture:
Give God credit.
Though Abraham—a human—has entrusted this awesome mission to his servant—another human--one cannot read this story and walk away with the impression that the success of this mission belongs to humans. On the contrary it is blatantly obvious that God is the real hero here, in part due to the providential way that circumstances unfold and in large measure because of how frequently and intentionally the servant gives God credit. I see him doing so in two primary ways:
1. He worships God. The text specifically tells us that the servant “bowed low” or “bowed down to the ground” and worshiped the Lord at two times—once when he realized that the young woman who had fulfilled his requested sign at the well was indeed his master’s relative and once when Rebekah’s family agreed that Rebekah should go with him to become Isaac’s wife. Both of these times the servant stopped right in the middle of a conversation with other people in order to physically bow down, to acknowledge God’s provision, to humbly thank Him, and to give Him the glory for how things were falling into place. I’ve never been in a conversation which was interrupted by someone actually bowing down in worship to God, but I have been around those people who lift a hand in the air and say, “Praise God,” in response to a good report or answer to prayer that has been shared. Whatever it looks like physically, I think that the posture of the heart is one of expectancy—awareness that God is the giver of all good gifts and the only one who can truly fix life’s messes, asking Him for help, and then looking for His provision with anticipation.
2. He tells other people what God has done. Before the servant asks Rebekah’s relatives for their blessing to take Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife, he tells them in great detail the whole story of his initial commission by Abraham, his prayer at the well, and his subsequent encounter with Rebekah there. This retelling takes up fifteen verses of the chapter (Gen. 24:34-48), and I think the repetition is somewhat comical! Why did the servant spend so much time repeating every detail of what happened, and why was it important that the reader also revisit these details? Couldn’t those fifteen verses be replaced with one verse that said simply, “The servant recounted to them all that the Lord had done?” Sure, but here’s why I believe it is the way it is: Greater detail, more nuance, and sharper specificity give God more glory because with each additional occurrence of God’s providence, no matter how “little,” the chances diminish that humans could have accomplished this on their own. I wonder if the servant’s lengthy account of distinct “serendipities” influenced Rebekah’s family’s response: “The Lord has obviously brought you here, so there is nothing we can say. Here is Rebekah; take her and go. Yes, let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed” (Gen. 24:50-51). And I wonder if this amazing story also influenced Rebekah; in 24 hours she went from going about her daily activities among her family to willingly leaving all that behind to move to a different place and become a man’s wife. I can’t help but think that she too was convinced that this was “as the Lord has directed” in part because of the servant’s amazing story. Verse 66 of the chapter tells us, “Then the servant told Isaac everything he had done,” and I guarantee you he reported the whole detailed thing to his master, Abraham, as well. He gave God credit, and I bet everyone who heard it received an infusion of faith. That’s the thing—when we give God credit by sharing in detail what He’s done in our lives, we’re not only giving credit where credit is due, but we’re also pointing other people to Him and challenging and encouraging them on their own faith journeys.
Check in with your own “mission.” How are you doing at giving God credit in the midst of it? Sure, sometimes it might look like nothing is happening, but I challenge you to—like the servant—get in the habit of looking for God’s provision even in small ways and worshiping Him for it. Then tell someone about it! The more detail the better, and it will encourage them and you too! I’m praying God gives you great success in all your missions.