WANTED: RELIABLE PERSON, MUST BE GOOD WITH CAMELS
Camels, dromedaries, ships of the desert. One hump or two. Smelly, noisy, flea-hosting. I have asked many children what they hope to be when they grow up. Firemen, policemen, rock stars, sports champions, usually top the list. I have never, ever, had a young child aspire to be a "camel carer". Ever! Wealthy nomads owned slaves and hired servants to do this horribly humble job of watering socially insensitive camels. What might surprise you is that Jesus Christ was a camel-carer. Nearly everything Jesus said was from the perspective of a camel-carer...
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
By all reports the ships of the desert drink a lot. It is their ability to trek for days across deserts that helps to make them the ideal means for nomads to travel with their wares. If you were asked to water several camels by pouring water into troughs for them to drink out of, you would be very busy for the next hour or so. It wouldn't be a pleasant job. It was a lowly job. In Genesis 24, Abraham asks his unnamed servant to travel back to his place of origin to find a wife for his son Isaac. The servant loads up the camels for the long trek. When he arrives at a well near the country of Abraham's kin, he prays a prayer asking God for the seemingly impossible. As he waits for the owner of the well to arrive, he asked God that -
1. It would be a woman who came to the well.
2. This woman would offer him a drink from the well.
3. This woman would also offer to give all of his camels a drink as well (she had to be a camel-carer).
Let the young woman to whom I shall say, 'Please let down your jar that I may drink,' and who shall say, 'Drink, and I will water your camels'—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master."
The most convincing answers to prayer are always the most coincidental. Coincidences tend to coincide most often just after praying for them to occur. Coincidentally, coincidences almost cease when prayer stops. Abraham's servant experienced the most remarkable coincidence to his prayer because even before he uttered "Amen" God was already answering his prayer.
¶ Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder.
What Rebekah does is literally extraordinary. She offers the stranger a drink, then offers to water his camels! Rebekah was a camel-carer! Camel-carers add value to others - often without being asked. This is what makes them so inspirational. When Rebekah turned up at the well she must have been on a mission. It's not that camel-carers haven't got anything better to do. What contributes to them being very inspirational people is that despite their opinions, their feelings, their energy levels, or their needs, they serve. But if that's all they did I guess they'd be called "camel-servers". They care for things that people care about and by doing so they are actually caring for people. One of the secrets to very inspirational people's success at life is that they have learned you can bless a person by caring about what they are about. Abraham's servant had just been on a long bonding trip with his dromedaries. He cared about his camels. When you care about what those you care about care about, you may be becoming a camel-carer.
Over the 18 years I have been pastoring Legana, I have bonded not just with our people, but with the things we share - our property, our plants, our carpark, our buildings, our kitchens, our toilets, our creche, our playground, our grass, our fences, our microphones, and our musical instruments. If this list makes you think, "That's a sad, dull list" then you're probably not a camel-carer. I guess not everybody is. But some of you are. I've seen you caring for our camels. I've seen you on a Sunday at the door half an hour before our services start because you care. I've seen you making drinks for our thirsty camels at the end of our services because you care. I've seen you at our Sunday night prayer meeting because you care about our camels. I've seen you in one of our Home Groups listening and sharing with other camels, because you care. I've seen you down at our facilities through the week sweeping our pavements, pruning our plants, washing our windows and walls, weed-spraying our car-park, tidying our garden-beds, bringing our bins in, replacing our broken lights, and watering our parched plants. Camel-carers.
Camel-carers are often mistaken for being task-driven because they take care of such practical matters as washing dishes, setting up tables, cooking choc-chip shortbread cookies, or pressing RECORD on the audio computer in the sound-desk. Mistaken. By now you're probably connected the most obvious traits of camel-carers and realising that a person's measure as a camel-carer is commensurate with them being an inspirational person. Enter, Jesus Christ. He was the ultimate "camel-carer". He is clearly the ultimate Very Inspirational Person. If you want to transition from being a Very Draining Person to being a Very Inspirational Person, become like Jesus! But don't just see Jesus from the Gospels - see Jesus in Genesis when Rebekah volunteers to water a herd of camels. See Jesus in Exodus when Moses shepherds a nation of wandering whining people. See Jesus in First and Second Samuel when a young goat-herder volunteers to do battle with an obscene giant. Jesus.
THE SERVANT KING
1. From heav'n You came helpless babe
Entered our world Your glory veiled
Not to be served but to serve
And give Your life, that we might live
This is our God, the servant King
He calls us now to follow Him
And give our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King
2. There in the garden of Tears
My heavy load He chose to bear
His heart with sorrow was torn
"Let not My will by Yours" He said
3. Come see His hands and His feet
The scars that speak of sacrifice
Hands that flung stars into space
To cruel nails surrendered
4. So let us learn how to serve
And in our lives enthrone Him
Each other's needs to prefer
For it is Christ we're serving.
I met a new camel-carer in our church two weeks ago. She asked if it would be OK if she came down through the week and trimmed up the dead fronds on our ferns. I thought to myself, "Hallelujah! A camel-carer!" This past week I have been surrounded by camel-carers. These people aren't idle. Yet they volunteer to serve. They don't just do the minimum - they water our camels as well. They aren't looking for thanks, accolades, encouragement, or medals with colourful ribbons, or their photo in the newspaper. Camel-carers care for things because they care for people.
¶ When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels,
The Genesis 24 account doesn't end though with a bunch of camels rejuvenating their saliva stores. In what many Bible teachers have seen over the years, Rebekah is a type of New Testament believer. Her innocent faithfulness to her unseen spouse is honoured with treasures beyond her wildest imagination. This will be case for every faithful believer whose works will be tested by fire. And in a serendipitous way, if Rebekah hadn't watered these camels at this time, the world might not have hosted the Saviour since Rebekah went on to become the ancestor of Jesus Christ!
each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
First Corinthians 3:13
Abraham, a type of the God the father, has sent his servant, a type of the Holy Spirit, out into the world looking for a bride, a type of New Testament believer, for his son, a type of Christ. What distinguishes the believer from the world? Camel-caring. When we say don't kill unborn camels or exterminate old ones, it's because we care for people, not politics. When we volunteer, we show the care of Christ, our Servant-King.
Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too(The Servant Song, by Richard Gillard of New Zealand)
"I'm not watering those stinking, flea-infested, slobering camels!" is usually translated into: "I'm really busy at the moment. Couldn't you find someone else for the creche roster?" and various other statements. But, "Let me get you a drink and I'll pour water for your camels to." - is most often translated not with words but with actions. If you really want to show someone you care, water their camels.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.