"What if..." If you've ever asked this question, you are not alone. But as Eliezer demonstrates, questions don't have to immobilise us; even in the midst of uncertainty, we can keep moving forward, confident that God will help us every step of the way.
At this point in Genesis, Abraham is reaching the end of his life, and concerned with the continuation of his family line, he charges a “senior servant” to find Isaac a bride in his home country (Genesis 24:2-4). While the servant in this passage is unnamed, we can assume that it is Eliezer, who has been with Abraham from the beginning of his call (Genesis 15:2-3). This mission is an extensive journey. As the crow flies, from Canaan to Ur of the Chaldeans is approximately 800 kilometres, but the most common route travelled at that time was a hefty 1,450 kilometres of circuitous roads.
Our faith journeys are also long with countless twists and turns. Multiple times I have uttered Eliezer’s same words in response to God’s call in my life: “What if…?”
“What if dropping out of university is the wrong decision?”
“What if moving to the other side of the world damages my kids in some way?”
“What if I’m not accepted?”
And the most common question, the one that lies deep in my heart but is rarely heard out loud: What if I fail?
Eliezer reminds us it’s not wrong to ask questions of the mission set before us, but it’s important that the questions don’t stop us from going. It’s been said that it’s hard to steer a parked car; we need to be moving to receive the direction. And as we’re being guided to God’s appointed place, what comes out of our mouths after what if? sets the tone for the rest of the story.
Eliezer’s prayer is time-sensitive, specific, and humble. Hunting for a bride with such nuanced requirements could easily take days, weeks, or even months, so he asks for God’s help today (v.12), humbly requests success for the overwhelming mission, and asks that he will recognise the already-chosen wife God has appointed for Isaac (v.14).
We see this pattern of prayer mirrored when Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask for our daily bread, for the things we need in this moment, for this task, right now. When we ask for God’s will to be done and His Kingdom to come, we can trust that God will reveal His purpose and plans for the specific situation or season we find ourselves in.
And “before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out” (v.15). Before he finished! We know that before we ever even mutter a word, the Lord knows what is on our minds and will answer (Isaiah 65:24). Not only does God answer before Eliezer has finished praying, but He also goes above and beyond. Rebekah is a virgin, beautiful, from the right family, has a servant heart, is kind, hospitable, and diligent. God takes Eliezer’s prayer and does immeasurably more than requested. Won’t He do the same for us? (Ephesians 3:20).
Eliezer faces doubt and concern in the face of such a monumental task, but his name means ‘God is my help.’ And despite having his ‘what if’ moment, he still sets out believing that God will fulfil and complete the task ahead.
Just as God led Eliezer on his journey, so, too, will He “make our paths straight” and lead us on ours as we trust and submit to Him in all our ways (Proverbs 3:5-6). He has not “abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to us” (Genesis 24:27), sending the Holy Spirit to guide and teach us (John 14:26), and as we continue on our long journeys, we will find that everything, including us, will be fulfilled and completed in Jesus (Colossians 2:10).
What are the ‘what ifs’ holding you back in this season? After you’ve identified them, stand and declare the Lord’s prayer aloud. Invite His Kingdom rule into your heart that it might be in your life as it is in Heaven.