Genesis 16:13 - So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”
Yesterday afternoon I had the chance to speak at the Christian school where my children attend. The spiritual theme of the school year is “Name Above All Names”, and the kids in the middle school are learning about various names of God that we discover in Scripture. I was assigned “El Roi” (pronounced, “El Roh-ee”), meaning, the God who sees.
The name comes from Genesis 16. Hagar, the female servant of Abraham’s wife, Sarah, runs out into the wilderness to get away from the abuse and mistreatment she received once Sarah discovered that Hagar was pregnant with Abraham’s child. (It’s a complicated story.) Hagar was just doing what she was instructed and paid the price for it in the end.
Now she’s hopeless, laying by a spring, probably tired, probably wondering what her life held now that she had left the protection of home as a pregnant, single woman. While she’s lying there, God shows up, and Hagar discovers that God has been with her all along. She calls him El Roi—the God who Sees—because she realizes that he had been looking after her like a shepherd would have watched over his sheep.
I had committed to do this chapel towards the beginning of the school year. It didn’t occur to me that it would be the same week that Christi and I were headed to Israel, and I hadn’t thought about where I’d find the mental energy to put together the message in the midst of our preparations. I breathed a sigh of relief when it was over, the kids were gone, and it was only the Principal, Dan, and I who remained in the room.
Dan asked me how the preparations were going for our trip. I told him that we were looking forward to getting on the plane, knowing that all our preparations were completed. There would be nothing left to do, even if we wanted to. I also told him that I had some anxiety about leaving our kids and going overseas. God forbid something would happen.
“El Roi,” he said.
“Huh?” I responded.
“El Roi...the God who sees.”
I paused. In the midst of the busyness of life and the preparations to leave I thought that “El Roi” was just for the middle school kids. I hadn’t considered that maybe I was the one who needed to be reminded of the God who Sees. In the midst of preparation, busyness, anxiety, travel, leaving kids, buying supplies, packing, and the rest of the routine of life, the God who sees needed me to stop and consider that he was looking after me–and not just me, my family, and all those things I am anxious about.
“I guess that was providential,” I finally said.
And that was exactly the point.