The God Who Wants To Hear Your Story

I’ve always loved the story of Hagar. I simply thrill at her proclamation of “the God who sees me.” I scoop that name up and tuck it into my heart, and I pull it out when I feel alone, lonely, and unseen: El Roi.

I’m sure you all know the story. Sarai’s inability to conceive had prompted her to give her servant girl Hagar to her husband Abram, hoping to have children that way. When Hagar became pregnant, her prideful attitude embittered her mistress Sarai, who in turn treated Hagar so harshly that she ran away. When we meet Hagar in Genesis 16, she was probably heading back to her native Egypt.

Until recently, my main take-away from this story had always been Hagar’s name for God. But there’s something else going on in this passage too, something I’d never noticed before. In verse 8 the Angel of the Lord asks Hagar, “Where have you come from, and where are you going?” God is basically asking her, “What’s your story?”

I believe this question can unlock something inside our souls. When was the last time someone asked us both “Where have you come from?” and “Where are you going?” When was the last time we asked it of ourselves? Or deeper still, when was the last time we realized that God was asking it of us?

Do we know God wants us to tell Him our stories? To tell Him all the regrets, failures, and mistakes we’ve made, and all the hurts and wounds we’ve received at the hands of others? After all, Hagar’s story held both her own wrongdoing and the wrongs of others: Sarai’s unkindness and her own contemptuousness.

Do we believe God wants to heal all of it? That He wants to pour oil and wine on our wounds, bind us up, and make us whole? That He wants to pour His blood over our trespasses, cover us with His righteousness, and call us His own?

And do we believe that God cares not only about our pasts, but about our futures? That He wants us to tell Him about our dreams, desires, and apprehensions? Do we believe He sees those too, and will walk into them with us? Do we really believe that He sees us, and that He cares? That He knows where we came from and where we’re going?

In John 8, Jesus says something surprisingly similar: “I know where I came from and where I am going.” Jesus knew His past, and He knew His future – and He didn’t care what those in power thought of Him. Our Savior marched single-mindedly through life, determined to arrive at the Cross, all because He knew His own story. He could do everything the Father asked Him to do because He knew where He came from and where He was going.

John 13:3 says it another way: “He knew that He had come from God and would return to God.” Jesus knew His origin, and He knew His destination. It’s what enabled Him to do what He did on earth. He could climb up a skull-shaped hill with a scandalous tree upon His back, only to be separated from His Father, all because He knew in the end, He would return to His Father.

This unwavering confidence of Christ is ours for the taking. If we know where we came from and where we’re going, we can pass through the waters and walk through the fire. Like Jesus, we can weather adversity and withstand disappointment, if only we know these two things.

So may we know God sees us, in the deep places where no one else sees. May we know we both begin and end in Him. May we, like Hagar, hear God when He asks us where we’ve come from and where we’re going. And may we, like Jesus, be confident of our answer.

How easy is it for you to believe God cares not only about our pasts, but about our futures? That He wants us to tell Him about our dreams, desires, and apprehensions? 

15 Comments

  1. Emily Smith September 20, 2015

    Your words are such a gift. Several times recently I have asked God about my own hopes and desires for the future. Knowing he sees my past and has been faithful is some how easier. Believing he wants to hear my hopes and desires for the future is something so hard for me to wrap my mind around. Knowing it in my head is one thing. Letting that knowledge sink deep enough to let me be open and honest with Him about my future has been harder.

    It is such a beautiful picture to think he sees both where we came from and where we are going and can give us the confidence in Christ to stand in the present.

     

    1. Elizabeth September 21, 2015

      I’m so glad this encouraged you today, Emily. What you said here is so true — sometimes it feels like it takes more faith to believe He cares about our future than about our past. And knowing His love and care for us in our hearts is often much harder than knowing it in our heads.

      So today may you know, deep in your heart and soul, that He sees you and your hopes and dreams, and that He tenderly cradles both in His most capable hands.

      Sending you a hug right now.

  2. Ellie September 21, 2015

    Beautiful Elizabeth! Thank you.

    I think sharing my dreams with God is really hard. Especially being in a season of waiting right now that sometimes feels like it’s been going on for ever, (Obviously not compared to God’s timescale of infinity – but he can cope with pain at months and years) it’s hard to trust that he cares about those dreams. But when I take time to listen to him and check in about how he feels about my hurts it helps. Today I felt like he was saying “you know that verse about how much more will I give the Holy Spirit to those that ask me? You don’t believe I can heal you of these hurts you’ve suffered,  you won’t ask for the Holy Spirit to come and heal you, why?” and I think it’s because I’m unworthy, and God says “so what?”

    And I heard him say about “costly discipleship” and I felt seen. And I feel a little bit better about letting him in again. He wants all of me and He is good. So thankyou for your post. “The God who sees” is not a name for God that has been a strong one for me before – but maybe it is for this season. 🙂

    1. Elizabeth September 22, 2015

      Oh Ellie, I can feel the pain in your words. I’m so sorry you’ve been in such a difficult season of waiting, so sorry for how much it’s been hurting.

      Thank you for sharing the beautiful ways God has been speaking to your heart. How good and faithful He is to speak with us even in our doubts.

      He sees you, Ellie. He does. And I see you, too. I see the pain and the struggle, and I see the tender way God is speaking to you, and I pray you will continue to hear His sweet, healing voice in this pain of waiting.

      I pray that it will be said of you what was written of Hagar: “Thereafter Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her.” I pray that from this day forth, you will know God as the Living One who has seen you, and who continues to see you.

      You are seen, Ellie, and you are loved. For all time, you are loved.

      1. Ellie September 25, 2015

        Thanks for your beautiful encouraging words Elizabeth. They made me cry. Trying to accept them into me.

  3. Wesley September 22, 2015

    Elizabeth,

    Thank you for sharing your heart and these words. I’ve been mulling over the quote from Genesis. Tomorrow marks one month since I permanently left the field. I’m encouraged that God cares about both where we come from and the future, and that He is present in every single moment. I feel like I’ve jumped headlong into next steps and straining towards the future and you have encouraged and reminded me to process, to slow down and look back. Transition seems to me to be about honoring each stage of the journey.

    And when I feel that I have deposited pieces of my story with so many people, when I feel a bit scattered, yet wanting for both deep knowing and a little privacy, I am grateful for the reminder to take all the pieces and share them with God.

    1. Elizabeth September 22, 2015

      One month since you left the field isn’t all that long — so I’m glad this has encouraged you to look back and process. 🙂 I think a lot of us tend to forge ahead and forget to look behind. My mom was an Army wife, and she said one of the things in Army culture was that you keep looking forward to the next post, that’s how you survive the goodbyes. But perhaps we need to take a slower, more reflective path. After all, the past is usually part of the reason we’ve arrived at the present we’re at. 🙂

      “And when I feel that I have deposited pieces of my story with so many people, when I feel a bit scattered, yet wanting for both deep knowing and a little privacy, I am grateful for the reminder to take all the pieces and share them with God.” This. I feel this with you!! So much. And how beautifully you’ve said it. Deposited pieces of your story and feeling scattered. Wanting both to be deeply known and understood and also to have your privacy respected — I so get that. It feels like competing desires sometimes, but they both exist. So thank you for articulating this, and may we both take all our pieces to God, always.

  4. Alexa September 24, 2015

    Thank you for this. “The God who sees me” is what I need during this season in my life. I had forgotten the story of Hagar, but when she utters that name for God I have always had the same response that you describe. It’s what I long for! But I am so often angry and proud and then I feel ashamed and unlovable and choose instead to hide myself away. I have so far to go to know this God who accepts where I am coming from and sees me and where I am going. But, oh, how I want to know him.

    1. Elizabeth September 25, 2015

      “I am so often angry and proud and then I feel ashamed and unlovable and choose instead to hide myself away.” This. I so relate to this! I’ve come to God like that so many times, beating myself up for messing up yet again. Very slowly, I have learned I don’t have to be quite so hard on myself, and can simply return to God and His loving embrace. So thankful for that truth!

      And how I want to know Him, too. Together, let’s keep holding on to the God who sees us.

      Sending you a hug, Alexa.

  5. Anna October 2, 2015

    This is something I have to remember for others, too.  When life doesn’t make sense, and you see overwhelming suffering all around- there is a God who sees and knows.   He knows all of my story, but also all of the other stories, too.

    1. Elizabeth October 2, 2015

      YES. Yes yes yes. This is so important to remember! And so worship-inspiring too, to know that God sees and cares about my heartbreak, yes, but others’ too. Thankful for a God like that, who sees and cares for ALL our stories.

  6. Patty Stallings October 18, 2015

    Hi Elizabeth,  I missed this when it was posted but read it this morning – His perfect timing as I think and pray through a decision.  I’m writing these questions in my journal now to start pondering as His invitation and wooing.
             Where have you come from?
    Where are you going?
    “The God who sees me” is asking.
    Thank you for a timely word, beautifully expressed.

    1. Elizabeth October 19, 2015

      I’m so glad this came at a good time for you, Patty. I love what you wrote in your journal, “The God who sees me is asking.” Praying your prayer and journalling time is fruitful. xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

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