Thirsty Camels

Caring for the needs of people may sometimes crowd out our own personal goals, but if we are followers of Christ, the mundane things that we do for others are crucial to our future. We may not feel any great fulfillment in going that extra mile—but neither did Rebekah. (Genesis 24)

At the end of the day, Rebekah carried an empty water jar to fill at Nahor’s Spring. It was her job to fill and carry a heavy water jar to her father’s house, and today she counted 10 camels standing beside the trough at the spring—and a dusty old man. She often greeted travelers at the spring, but this elder and his servants seemed to be watching and expecting something.

The elder’s name was Eleazar, and his camel train belonged to a wealthy nomad named Abraham. Abraham was a patriarch, well-known among Rebekah’s clan, and the string of camels carried a dowry to offer the family of his son Isaac’s prospective bride. Abraham’s right-hand man, Eleazar, had traveled more than 400 miles to the northern reaches of Mesopotamia, seeking a God-fearing young woman for Isaac.

Rebekah’s feet hurt. Waves of heat rose from the baked desert sand, and she looked forward to kicking off her sandals after her last chore of the day. But as she courteously offered water from her jar for thirsty Eleazar, a wearisome thought came to mind: Should she offer to water this friendly stranger’s camels, too?

It really wasn’t her responsibility. One of his servants should do it, shouldn’t he? Yet, a voice whispered in her heart like a comforting breeze, “Go the extra mile, Rebekah.”

So, along with a drink, Rebekah offered to water the old man’s 10 belching camels as well! With a deep sigh, she filled the common watering trough over and over as his dromedaries drank like they were giant, empty flasks.

Eleazar never lifted his finger to help, but watched her. He had been worried that he might never find a woman of virtue to satisfy Abraham’s family and God. He had been praying silently as he approached Nahor’s Spring, petitioning God to choreograph a scene to help him know which woman should be Isaac’s bride.

“If a young woman offers to water my camel—no, ALL 10 of the camels!—I will know that you have selected this woman to be Isaac’s bride, Lord.”

It would be a miracle if it happened, and no sooner had he breathed this prayer than lilting laughter filled the air. Ahead of several others, one no-nonsense young woman strode purposefully to the spring, shouldering an empty clay jar. She began to fill the jar with water from the spring and Eleazar seized the moment, trying not to appear rude.

Courteously he asked for a drink and waited. Would this beautiful child of the desert offer to fill the trough for his 10 thirsty camels, too? If Rebekah did, she would be invited to become a cherished matriarch in Isaac’s wealthy family. A caravan of her descendants would travel a predestined path to Egypt, to Canaan, and become the nation called Israel. Through Rebekah’s lineage, the long-awaited Savior of the human race would be born of a virgin.

Eleazer stood by, watching the young woman strain and sweat in the waning evening sun. Without inspiration or promised reward Rebekah helped Eleazar. It was a chore that she committed to finish—and she couldn’t have guessed that watering camels was changing her life.

Like Rebekah, every drop of water that we carry for “thirsty camels” is shaping our future too. God may hide our destiny from us while we are filling the trough again and again, but be assured, our God-appointed labors are turning to legacy.

Rebekah’s character sealed her destiny, above and beyond all that she could have dreamed. Caring for others may feel unrelated to our future, too, but those mundane tasks are collectively significant to the rest of our lives—and into eternity.

Galatians 6:9 (NIV) Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

2 Timothy 4:8 (NIV) Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

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