I was going to take a break but God won’t let me.
I should be packing right now, but no. I needn’t remind you of the fact that I’m a stay-at-home mother of two and that my sleep is more valuable than the rarest of jewels.
It’s 10:00 pm and I’m drinking coffee so I can stay up and write to you about camels.
Seven years ago, I was working at a little art gallery when a woman came in and struck up a conversation with me about our favorite authors. I rifled off my list of the well-known greats. She listened patiently and then told me that her favorite was a random guy named John Wright Follette and that I should look up his book, Broken Bread. Then she walked out. I looked it up and randomly read Chapter 2. I don’t know anything else about the guy or even the rest of the book, but I was never the same.
“The Camels are Coming” starts with the story of Rebekah in Genesis 24, when Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son, Isaac. The servant takes ten of Abraham’s camels, loaded down with “choice gifts,” and goes to the place Abraham directed him. When the servant gets to the city, he parks the camels at the well. He then prays that God would reveal His choice for Isaac by having the woman offer water to the camels. Before he could finish praying, Rebekah gave him water and offered to water the camels until they were done drinking. The servant then got her family’s blessing and lavished her with the “choice gifts.” Rebekah hopped on a camel to meet her bridegroom. She lifted up her eyes, saw Isaac, and got off of the camel.
Here’s the takeaway.
Abraham represents God the Father. Isaac represents Jesus. The servant represents the Holy Spirit. Rebekah is the “called out Christian in training by the Holy Spirit for deeper fellowship with the heavenly bridegroom.”
And lo, the camels. The camels were the means of transportation that the father used to bring the bride to his son. What means does God use to refine us and bring us closer to his Son? “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9).
Sometimes, you just have to water your camels.
They spit at you, you quench their thirst. They snort at you, you offer more. They kick you in the face, you draw another bucket, smiling. You see them for what they are, accept them in submission to your Father, and take a whippin’ for the sake of grace. “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:19-23). Your suffering has been divinely appointed. Remember, it was Abraham who sent the servant out to find the faithful bride.
If you spot a camel, see the test in it. Get some joy in your heart knowing that you’re about to be laden down with treasures and sent on a journey to your groom. You just pick up that bucket and fill it in the well of his grace with some living water and water those camels until their humps can’t hold anymore. Then get on that thing and make it take you to your groom.
We’ve got to stop whining about our camels and see them as divine conspiracies to bring us closer to Jesus. We tell God we want more of Him and we want to to know Him better, but when the suffering comes we resist it instead of running toward it with our buckets in hand, ready to drown it in His grace. “Don’t water a camel with a pout in your spirit for that always creates thirst and it takes ever so much longer to finish him up” (Follette). Such is the life of the Christian. Opposite of the comfort-seeking world. “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
Step back from the camel. The illness. The idiot. The issue. Whatever. The longer we whine about it, the longer the camel is parked at the well. He has given us enough water for the task. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
It’s no sense in pretending you don’t see them. Your bridegroom awaits. Run to the well and fetch a pail. Then look that dromedary square in the eye and fill ‘er up.
“Sing a good song as you let down your bucket and you hear it splash in the well of His grace. In this way his thirst will soon be slaked; then go get the saddle and ride.” –JWF