Bowshot: I will come for you if you just stay where you are
When my wife and I were trying to start a family we had a series of miscarriages including something called a tetraploidy. This is where an embryo has double the amount of chromosomes needed. My wife’s body was trying to keep something alive what would not have worked out as a child. It was taking things from her in its mission of survival. It was a hard time for us. I remember sitting on the couch crying and throwing my cell phone saying “I thought God said I was supposed to be a Dad!” I remember feeding my wife in bed as her body fought in vain with everything it had to save the life inside her. All the while I was praying. Uttering words while I slept lightly, watching my wife breathing, just waiting for the alarm to go off to feed her again. In those moments the last thing I needed was advice, or prayers, or someone else telling us it would be ok…I just needed God to show up.
It was somewhere in this time I fell in love with a few words found in the detail of a story. It is in the book of Genesis when Abraham is being pressured by his wife Sarah to get rid of her servant Hagar who has bore them a son. It was her idea in the first place and Abraham is being passive to the point of inaction…but that is another matter. Here is the part I love.
Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she[c] began to sob. God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.
God showed up.
I can only imagine the perfectly scripted, well thought out prayer that came from that child to get Gods attention. It had to be something eloquent and deep. It had to be deliberate and powerful…
It was his cries. “God heard the boy crying”
God doesn’t ask us, expect us, or even want us to have the right words.
I think He wants us to just call out to Him.
Every now and then I look back on that time in life as I watch my two children play. I know now God had it under control back then, even though it felt out of control. I learned a lot about myself, my wife, and my relationship with God. I know that He used that time to whisper goodness over my family years later.
This work is made through a series of dots on the surface of the panel (right), and a series of lines carved into the surface (left). It is only when we are far away do we see things clearly. The closer we are, the more limited our perspective is, the more things appear to fall apart. The only way we can see it clearly is to be a bowshot away from it. I see the ball of twine on the right as the position of Hagar (myself) in the story. Wrapped around and on top of itself creating mass and weight and complexity on its own. The left side is the position of the son (myself), underneath the covering. In the story Hagar provides a shelter by placing her son under a bush. But really he was (as we all are) covered by Gods protection and provision, under His wing. When hearing the theme of expectation this story came to the surface immediately. The shape of something splitting, leaving, while still being connected came quickly after. How we are connected to a place in a story in our past, and how it affects us now. If you read on in the story you find that the boy becomes an expert archer. It is no surprise that the story measures the distance of his separation in the language of his future. God has a way of redeeming our hardest moments into a garment that shares His love and His goodness.