Tuesday, October 4, 2016

God's first nickname

“In this text we read about God’s first nickname.”

I love the way our professor put it.

In Genesis 12, God made a promise to Abram that he would become the father of a great nation. As time passed, however, Abram’s wife Sarai did not conceive. They became worried, so they decided Abram should try to have a child through Hagar.

Now, Hagar was from Egypt and she was a servant of Abram’s. She did conceive and gave birth to a son.

Meanwhile, Sarai still had no children. The thought was painful to face and the pain was made worse in the presence of Hagar and her son. Sarai began to mistreat Hagar, so Hagar took her son and ran away.

There, by a spring of water in the wilderness, God asked Hagar: “Where have you come from and where are you going?”

That is a good question for all of us.

Well, Hagar explained everything to God and God heard her.

To remind her that he heard her complaint, God told Hagar to name her child Ishmael, which means “God hears.”

In response, Hagar named God. It’s the first time in the Bible someone dared come up with a special name for God…a nickname.

And here is the nickname Hagar, the Egyptian slave, gave to God: El-Roi, or “God sees.”

What she really wanted to remember by the nickname, however, was not just that God saw her but that she saw God…and lived. The text quotes Hagar: “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?”

God hears…God sees…and we hear and see God. It is relationship.

To me, the whole scenario feels like a father playing peekaboo with his child. I like to think that Hagar’s name for God is free and playful. I like to think God liked his new nickname…”Now-You-See-Me-Now-You-Don’t”…Peekaboo.

I like to think God’s first nickname is just that: Peekaboo.

What’s your nickname for God?   

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