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Water For Camels

Almost every marriage begins with a lie.

This lie is sealed with two simple words—“I do.” Even before these words are exchanged between a nervous man in a rented tuxedo and woman wearing a beautiful white dress she might never fit into again, the deception typically has been going on for months and even years prior to the wedding festivities.

We affectionately call it the “wooing process” where we go to extraordinary lengths to convince our future spouses there is no task too large, and no need too great, when it comes to how we will serve them. Unfortunately, these terms of engagement rarely last beyond the first year, and oftentimes end with the screeching of tires as the returning honeymoon plane lands.

As a society, when it comes to misrepresentation, we have no problem giving a hard time to car salesmen and marketing executives (this one I’m particularly sensitive to, mind you). But we seldom hold our marriage vows to the same level of accountability.

We can excuse our change of enthusiasm as the natural correction of irrational exuberance or the foolishness of youth, but we cannot easily dismiss the promises we made before God.

So what happens? Why does the music fade?

An excellent clue comes from the Bible, where we hear the remarkable circumstances which brought Isaac and Rebekah together.

Isaac, you recall, is the “chosen son” of Abraham, the one God had promised to him, the one he and his wife Sarah impatiently waited for so many decades to arrive. When it came time to find Isaac a wife, Abraham assigned the task to his most wise and trusted employee, Eliezer. He was sent out on a mission to find a bride from the “old country,” the place where Abraham was raised and had family.

As you can imagine, Eliezer feared dropping the ball on this lofty assignment. “How am I going to find the right girl?” So after traveling many miles to get to his destination, he understandably, and commendably, sought divine assistance:

12 Then he prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” Gen 24:12-14 NIV

In essence, he asked God to identify the woman with the “right stuff.” This would be one who would not only offer to give him a drink, but would provide water for his camels as well. Now, realizing that camels can drink over 30 gallons at a time, and that he had ten camels, this was a major act of generosity. It was a completely selfless act.

It’s important to note that Eliezer could have asked God to indicate the spouse-to-be through other signs:

Let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac:

  • When she arrives with the most jewelry.
  • When she arrives with the most beautiful face and figure.
  • When she arrives with the most innovative way of collecting water.

Instead, he asked she be a person overflowing with kindness.

When we are dating–trying to make the deal–we water each others’ camels all of the time. We love serving each other in amazing, creative and selfless ways.

A vibrant, growing relationship is one where we are watering the camels long after the ink on the contract signs.

This service should not necessarily be in the way we are most equipped, but rather be in areas where our spouses most thirst.

It could mean cooking a meal when you’re tired to the bones, or working a second job to help pay down the debt. It could mean going to the ballet when you really want to go to the ballgame. Or just sitting and listening when you would rather watch TV.

Or it may be even more challenging. It may mean providing respect to a husband who doesn’t deserve it, or loving a wife who sometimes is unlovable. At times it can be uncomfortable, awkward, stressful, maddening, discouraging, tiring and seemingly forced.

The truth is, it’s an impossible task to handle alone throughout a lifetime. Watering that many camels by yourself will grow unbearable. It’s one that will require divine assistance.

The good news is that kind of help is always available. You just need to ask.

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27 Responses to Water For Camels

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Water For Camels | Real Life. Real God. -- Topsy.com

  2. Greg says:

    Excellent article. The ways of God are wonderful!

  3. shopgirl says:

    This is beautiful, though I didn’t like the opening, the broadness of the statement. It hurt, but it worked in the end.

    Thank you

  4. patricia petite williams says:

    LOVE the article help me a whole lot where can i get some copy

  5. Yinka says:

    Wow, great article! Got a lot of truth, & very challenging, but also encouraging. Definitely gonna share with friends.

  6. Kemi says:

    Beautifully and truthfully written. And so marriage should be just as described. It is a possibility. THANK GOD we DO NOT have to do it on our own in fact, WE CANNOT do it on our own. Phew!!

  7. Remi says:

    I loved this article. So true we start out confessing to the willingness to give, what we either don’t have, or unable to give properly without the help of God.

    Thanks for sharing. God bless

  8. Nice post. I’ve heard it said before that dating is the most deceiving time in our lives, the whole time we are trying to prove to another person we are something that we really aren’t.

  9. I have to say I was a bit confused by the beginning of your post. I met my husband when was 17 and he was 20. We’ve been married for 25 years this May. We’ve had our ups and downs, but have remained faithful and honest. I think that the key is that we both came from similar ecomonic and family backgrounds. Although I’m not American, we had so much in common when we met in college we were best friends from the start.

  10. Susan S says:

    I’ve been watering a lot of camels lately – sometimes with appropriate levels of grace but sometimes not. Thanks for the reminder that the tasks we’re called to do for the people we love don’t have to be thankful to be necessary, and that love itself is a decision, not an emotion that fades or goes away.

  11. Dave says:

    I now have a new euphemism for the heart of a good marriage, “watering the camels.” Servanthood never sounded so…well…cross-cultural!

  12. Anderson Alcides says:

    Amazing .. .wow!
    Would you authorize me translate to portuguese and disseminate it?

  13. Anderson, I would be honored if you did so. Blessings to you.

  14. Anderson Alcides says:

    Thanks Mike,
    I’ll do and let u know. God Bless you so much.

  15. Pingback: ÁGUA PARA CAMELOS « ::::Blog A voz no Deserto::::

  16. Michael,

    It’s translated and attached at my blog!
    To view, this is the link is http://avoznodeserto.wordpress.com

    Twitter @dinhoadm

  17. JulyG says:

    Gooood Post!!!!!
    Regards from the DR…

  18. Wonderful article. Memorable. I pray I can apply these principles in my own almost 37-year marriage…for at least another 37 years.

  19. matt says:

    This is the second time I’ve heard this story in the last two days! I wonder what god is trying to tell me? Great story!

  20. filigreegirl says:

    Married 30 years and counting. I know this is true.

  21. Michael Reid says:

    Awesome post. Reminded me that we need to water each other’s camels…especially when we are in the desert. Thanks!

  22. lori sica says:

    Not even sure I can put into words how timely this piece is for me. I have been trusting God for some time, knowing in His infinite wisdom He allows things to happen that He can easily prevent. Thank you for posting this.

  23. dan mcm says:

    Great post! I definitely need to do a better job of “watering the camels” myself…..

    A thought that struck, sort of tangential to the main point…. When Eliezer prayed, did he “move the heart of God” with his prayer, or was he actually called by God to pray that prayer so that he would recognize God’s choice for Isaac’s wife? I think we tend to say “God answered our prayer….” sometimes when the truth was, God was calling us to pray in that manner so we’d be aligned with his heart and will for our lives.

    Thanks for the reminder….. when we choose to serve and “water the camels” of those around us, particularly our spouses, that we are closer to the Father’s heart than when we focus on ourselves….

  24. Marissa says:

    So true…great article!
    “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13

  25. Someone posted this article on Twitter & I felt compelled to read it. As a twice-divorced woman your words resonated deeply within me. You speak truth. I’ve stopped blaming others long ago and take accountability for the mistakes I’ve made. I KNOW I have issues in relationships because I don’t water camels after the going gets tough or if my significant other doesn’t deserve my respect. I’ve been working on that for years now. Just last night during my devotionals I was railing at God about how angry I was toward my significant other. And what do you know, I was led to Colossians 3. I just wanted to say that I completely understand what your message is in this blog post. Thank you!

  26. Nannette…thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Isn’t it amazing that God always has the perfect words prepared for us when we take the time to listen?

  27. Thanks so much for this post today, it was just what I needed. I have been dealing with a ton of emotions this week and taking it out on my husband. Your post was full of wisdom and inspiration to keep me focused on being completely yielded to Christ, so that I can best serve my amazing husband.

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