I see this whole story as a is metaphor or allegory for a God who wants to be in relationship with creation and in the story of the call of Abraham enacts the "call and response" that is our lives. He promised new life - and the birth of a child - where there was no life and no imaginable possibility of life for an old couple well beyond the child bearing years. Abraham and Sarah could not quite trust this promise and engaged Hagar - a slave - as a surrogate. Which led to the birth of Ishmael and chaos and conflict which ensued.
All of this exemplifies how difficult it is for all of us to wait for what is the promised life that God desires to give to us. And how easy it is for us to try to "make something happen" on our own which causes problems. In Galatians, Paul is encouraging people to see themselves as children of promise. "We are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman."
What I struggle with in this is the potential for any kind of interpretation that leads us to excluding others as lesser than or not called. I see the overarching story is about the creator who only wants creation to know its identity as children of the promise. . To go back to the text from a few days ago - "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
And so what it means to me to be a child of the promise is to experience the grace of God - constantly. And the spiritual journey is tasting the grace - living attentively to see and savor these moments where we have glimpsed God's presence. As my life has slowed down I feel more aware of the daily blessings - time with children and grandchildren, a meal prepared by my sweet husband, the sharing of life with dear friends, and even the beauty of an icy december morning with crows in the front yard.
This identity as a child of promise has a "both - and" to it for me. It is about who I am and what is happening in this moment and then there is this promise of something more. And that keeps me faithful through the messes that we all make because we can't quite trust the promise.
Here's a quote for today
The spiritual journey
is a process that happens to us.
We don't do it.
The Mystery simply unfolds of itself
- Thomas Keating.