We had a special tradition in our family. The evening before one of us left for an extended period of time we all gathered in the living room for a time of prayer and affirmation. My father would prepare a devotion or challenge from scripture followed by a time of prayer. This time of crying out to the Lord for direction and blessing upon the journey and ministry ahead was a very powerful and special time. The evening before I left for Texas, only my parents and I remained at home and the empty living room made this departure even more difficult. Nervous excitement mixed with dread, presenting a perfect concoction that enabled me to generate a staggering flow of endless tears. My parents sat side by side on the couch across from me, smiling expectantly and from their demeanor it seemed something out of the ordinary was about to take place. My father never moved, instead it was my mom who opened her worn pink Bible announcing she wanted to read a story found in Genesis 24.
Please allow me to narriate the beautiful story of faith and grace that changed my outlook on single life.
Rebekah groaned throwing a tan slender arm across her face in an unsuccessful attempt to ward off the blistering rays of sun. She could feel the probing fingers of light clawing at the flaps of her tent. Evening had begun to crept silently across the dry desert landscape, but the heat still rolled relentlessly across the sandy floor. In the distance she could hear the rustling of her father’s livestock and their bellowing complaints of hunger. As if on cue, her mother arrived at the entrance of her tent, loudly depositing empty water jugs. “Make sure you bring back enough for dinner!” And with that Rebekah’s mom retreated to the shelter of a nearby tent, to grind corn for the evening meal.
Rebekah rose from her mat, absently brushing at the wrinkles clinging to her faded skirt. She squinting at the brilliant sunlight with growing irritation. As if to punctuate just how disagreeable it intended to make her trip, the dessert wind kicked up blasting her face with dust coated spurts of hot air. She glanced at the sun, making a quick calculation, and was instantly cheered by the revelation her mom had deposited the water jugs earlier than usual. Rebekah guessed this gave her a ten minute head start on the other women who would leave soon to collect their evening water. A ten minute lead was enough time to fetch water, care for the animals, and still be back in her tent with time to clean up. Energized by this new revelation, Rebekah darted through the flaps of the tent, snatched up the sandy jugs, and set out for the watering hole. As she raced down the path, her sandals kicked up swirling clouds of dust. The dessert grit mingled with the sweat that rolled down her legs. Rebekah glanced down at her grimy feet and legs and sighed. She was determined to approach the rest of the evening with a positive attitude regardless of the heat, grime, or cranky women at the well.
Her fortitude was immediately put to the test when she spied what appeared to be a solitary stranger kneeling on the ground, with a rather large caravan roving aimlessly behind him. Under her breath, Rebekah recited the phrase “Never pass up an opportunity to serve another!” By the time she drew near to the well, she had repeated her mother’s pet admonition six times. The stranger, who had apparently been deep in thought, looked up, noticing her for the first time. Without hesitation, he sprang to his feet, and with purposeful strides closed the gap between them. Daughter, he questioned breathlessly, I pray thee, would you let down your picture and allow me to refresh myself with a drink. Rebekah quickly walked to the well, rinsed one of the jars, and filled it. She offered it to the man and as he drank she scanned the caravan of dusty animals surrounding the well. Silently she counted every smelly beast noting they were all camels. TEN, LARGE, THIRSTY CAMELS! The old man finished his drink and stared at her with an expectant gaze. Rebekah surprised herself when she heard the words, “Rest while I draw water for your camels,” escape from her lips. Without waiting for a response, she returned to the well, pleasantly surprised by the feelings of benevolence that grew in her heart each time she pushed her way through the caravan of smelly, temperamental camels jostling for position at the trough.
Rebekah’s arms ached by the time every camel knelt contentedly on the ground. She blew a wisp of sweat soaked hair from her face and let her pot slide to the ground. She was startled by the closeness of the stranger who had positioned himself directly in her path. Tenderly he smiled down at her and asked, whose daughter art thou? Rebekah replied, I am the daughter of Bathuel the son of Milcah. When he gave no reply, she added, please return with me to my family’s tent and refresh yourself. We have plenty of food and room for both you and your camels. The stranger startled her when he threw his arms towards the sky and with bowed head exclaimed, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of His mercy and His truth. Precious daughter, today, the Lord has answered my prayer, leading me to the home of my master Abraham’s brethren. With that he withdrew jewelry from a sachet hanging at his side. Tenderly he took Rebekah’s hands, placing golden bracelets around her wrist and then he hung rings embedded with precious jewels from her ears.
A curious rush of excitement overcame Rebekah, and without thinking she turned and ran down the path leading to her family’s lodging, leaving the servant in a thick haze of dust. She ducked inside her mother’s tent, breathlessly announcing the arrival of their Uncle’s servant. Her brother’s eyes came to life when she mentioned the name Abraham, and without saying a word he dashed from the tent and disappeared down the path to meet the stranger. She retreated to the solitude of her tent to wash and prepare for the evening meal unaware of discussion taking place between the traveler and her family. The evening raced by in a blur of activity and as the moon rose in the night sky Rebekah found herself hastily packing for a very unexpected journey.
It was early morning when Rebekah mounted one of the very camels she had watered the evening before. As she sat high atop the beast, the first rays of sun light began to burst from beneath the desert floor. She was scanning the people scurrying about like ants when her eyes met the searching gaze of her mother. She bit her lip and fought to choke back unwanted tears. This sudden and unexpected departure from her family threatened to stifle any excitement she felt for the adventure that lay ahead. She reminded herself she had just been given her hearts desire. She was betrothed and in just three days journey, would meet her husband. Rebekah’s thoughts were interrupted when her childhood nurse leaned towards her, and with a twinkle in her eye whispered, I have heard Isaac is quite handsome and kind. Rebekah blushed violently, thankful for the veil that hid the scarlet heat racing across her cheeks. Suddenly, her camel lurched forward. It bellowed its protest in response to the voice of it’s master who loudly announced, “Jody, Just Water the Camels!”
I glanced up in surprise and blinked at my mom and dad who sat on the couch across from me. Mom closed her Bible and reached into a pocket producing a small brown camel, roughly the size of a baseball. She repeated again, “Jody, just water your camels.” I scooped the camel from my mothers hands and smiled at the ornery expression on its face. As I held the camel, mom challenged me to find encouragement and hope from Rebekah’s story and she asked me to take the camel with me, using it as a daily reminder of God’s perfect timing and faithfulness.
The story of Isaac and Rebekah changed my life. My mom’s challenge to “Just water the Camels” altered my prospective of single life and changed how I approached every sorrow, burden, and blessing I encountered. I would like to encourage you by echoing the words of my mother, “Just Water the Camels.”
As Rebekah walked to the well, I doubt she was entertaining thoughts of matrimonial bliss. By faithfully serving her family and completing the mundane duties of life, Rebekah placed herself squarely within the divine will of her Lord. By graciously serving the stranger at the well, and then offering to water his camels, she became the unwitting fulfillment to an unlikely set of circumstances that led to her marriage to Isaac, the son of Abraham, father of the Nation of Israel.
My mother’s charge to “Just Water the Camels” was a charge to forget about tomorrow so I could concentrate on God’s purpose for my life today. I began asking the Lord for eyes to see the “camels” he had entrusted to my care, and a heart wholly devoted to serving him no matter what he chose to give or withhold. I clung to the truth, God had a plan and purpose for my life just as important and meaningful as the married woman beside me. My life was not to be spent idle, in a “waiting room,” with the hope that one day I would be found worthy to be called to a higher more fulfilling purpose. The camel I carried to Texas was a daily reminder to embrace with passion the life and calling that I could live, not despite being single but because I was single.
If you truly love God and believe Him to be Lord Supreme, if you believe him to be a faithful and loving father, then you can surrender your future into his hands. Every dream and desire can be laid at his feet in earnest expectation that what he gives in response to your faith and obedience is infinitely far more supreme than anything your mind could comprehend. Let your focus shift from the future you hope for, because it is in the capable and loving hands of your Creator and God. Don’t worry about the when, who, where, and how’s of your future mate or ministry. You can’t fast-forward through life to get to your future without missing the growth, blessings, and experience necessary to make you the woman you need to be. Your success in the future hinges upon the life you live today.
Will you accept the challenge to Just Water the Camels? Spend time today seeking the Lord. Ask him to give you eyes to see the camels he has sent your way. Ask him to change your heart regarding your single life, replacing fear, regret, pain and all other emotional obstacles with a heart passionate about the opportunities he will give you to grow, serve, and draw closer to him.
Just Water the Camels!!!