Genesis Day 43: Living a Well-Lived Life
Most of us want to live a “well-lived” life. When I am “on my game” I want to do that for God’s glory, and not my own.
There are events in our lives that have a way of bringing into focus how well we have lived. A funeral is, perhaps, the ultimate event on this earth which brings this into focus.
Births, baptisms, graduations, weddings, funerals… these milestones give us cause to reflect intentionally on the guest(s) of honor. They are typically (or at least, hopefully!) joyful occasions filled with praise and positive memories. Friends and families gather, but sometimes they do so for better or for worse! Relationships can be… well… tricky, can’t they?
There I was, standing in the middle of a heated argument between other people’s family members. As the outsider, the thought running through my head was, “You’ve got to be kidding! This is Sam and Sarah’s wedding.”
But this was no kidding matter. When families gather, we can get all sorts of dynamics. Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes not so much. (But you already knew that.) This day, the outcome was not good.
People who were aware of what was going on had two goals. First, let’s diffuse the situation. Second, let’s pray the bride and groom don’t know this is happening.
What can be a deciding factor in whether these forced family reunions are positive or negative?
From my experience, one factor is the person (or people) everyone is coming to honor. Attend the wedding of a great couple, a couple that the people truly know, and everyone’s attention is on the couple and their joy. Attend a funeral of someone who positively impacted your life, and your thoughts on with this person.
Now this is not always the case, and too much alcohol can derail any event. But my experience has been that when the guests of honor are NOT deeply known by the people attending the event, then those attendees’ issues can move to center stage.
Today we come to a funeral—Abraham’s.
Abraham certainly is a larger-than-life character. He towers above many in the Bible.
It’s been 38 years since Sarah’s passing. (I found a nice timeline here that lays out Abraham's life.) We read that Abraham has remarried. His funeral is sandwiched between his offspring from this second marriage, and Hagar’s offspring.
That is not an accident. In the “big-picture flow” of Genesis, the writer is pointing us more and more to Isaac, and Isaac’s offspring—ultimately to the nation of Israel.
But today is a funeral. A funeral of perhaps the greatest patriarch of the Bible.
Isaac and Ishmael are present.
Here is what I am pondering.
The family dynamics in Abraham’s clan could be ripe with tension. Ishmael, as a teenager, had been sent off to the desert by Sarah—to die! Then there are all the “new” kids. The ones who have most recently known Abraham. Then there is Isaac.
We all know Isaac is the favorite. He is the special one. Let me ask you a question. If you were one of Isaac’s siblings, how would you feel about Isaac?
We read of no family squabbles. I want to think that they both looked to the father who loved them.
Which leads me to further ponder Abraham’s life. Look. We know he was not perfect. We have read about this all-too-human person. We have read about times when he was brilliant—we have read about times when fear governed his actions.
Hebrews 11:8-19 sketches out this man’s life. In fact, in 11:16 we read “…God is not ashamed to be called their (Abraham, Sarah, Isaac & Jacob) God”.
WOW! God is not ashamed—which means God is proud to be called their God!
Now that is a well-lived-life.
I want my life to be well-lived. It makes me ask, “So, what should I do?” The answer can certainly be gleaned from Jesus. But we see part of the answer in Abraham’s life.
He trusted God with some pretty crazy “requests” from God. How did this come about? I expect in his prayer time. He listened to God.
Anything else? Yup, he “hung out with God”. He also followed God’s direction—and when did not follow God’s direction, he returned to the Lord, calling upon his name and worshipping him (Abraham built a few altars!).
In that simple sketch we get: Prayer. Listening. Time with God. Obedience. Repentance. Worship. Today I would equate time with God to include reading God’s Word.
I am not intending to force you into some prescription for life. However, I do believe that people who “live life well”, I believe—in fact I know—they do have a prescription.