Reading the story of Abraham and his three angelic visitors, I was struck by the verbs. When Abraham saw the angels standing by the tree, Genesis 18 says that he “ran” to meet them. Once he got them settled, it says he “hurried” to Sarah to have her prepare bread for the guests, which he told her to do quickly. Next it says that he “ran” and selected a heifer for their meal.
Just picture him: Abraham, an old man at this point, is hotfooting his way through the account, bolting this way, then that.
Most commentators focus on Abraham’s hospitality. That’s obviously appropriate, and it’s perhaps the most important aspect of the story. Icons of the event are often billed as “The Hospitality of Abraham” for that reason. Abraham’s actions paint a picture of openness to God, welcoming him into our lives.But what about those verbs? More than just serving the Lord, Abraham served eagerly and energetically. He raced to the Lord and for the Lord, and he encouraged others to do the same.
In his Homilies on Genesis, Origen calls attention to this fact:
Behold in the individual matters how great is [Abraham’s] eagerness to receive [the angels]. He makes haste in all things; all things are done urgently; nothing is done leisurely (4.1).
That Abraham ran or hurried may be more descriptive than prescriptive, but it makes me wonder how often I race to serve. Not enough, I can tell you. I apply myself dutifully, obediently, and even promptly some of the time, but I want more of Abraham’s eagerness, more of his sense of urgency.
It’s a mistake to think Abraham’s story is about speed, as if the Christian walk were primarily about hustling for Jesus. It’s about heart. Abraham’s racing is an outward, physical sign of an inner, spiritual reality. And presented with the example, I pray for a heart as eager as his.
Question: How does Abraham’s example challenge you?