Where have you been? Where are you going?

The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” -Genesis 16:7&8

Dear members and friends,

One conventional misconception among people is that the wise or our collective wisdom holds answers for when we are in troublesome situations, especially when we are trying to figure out what to do with our life. Yet, what we find in many ancient stories is quite contrary. In most of those stories, the person journeys a long distance in search of a wise person. However, when finally that wise person is found, what is given is often not an answer, but a question. This causes confusion, frustration and sometimes even deeper trouble for the seeker. Only after struggling with the question for another long while does the seeker reach the conclusion that the answer has actually been within oneself the whole time!

In Genesis 16, the Egyptian slave girl, Hagar, ran away from her mistress, Sarai, because her mistress was treating her harshly. However, this harshness was caused by her own arrogance after she became pregnant with the child of her master, Abram. Hagar ran into the desert where an angel of the Lord found her, and said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” In the story itself, this question is not dealt with the depth and seriousness it deserves. However, please read this question a few times: “Where have you come from and where are you going?” If you were to actually find an answer to this question, you might gain amazing wisdom regarding yourself! In my case, I reflect on this question for days whenever I read this particular story. And each time, I feel that I am getting closer to understanding who I truly am and consequently, what actually matters to me.

My friends and family in God, I wholeheartedly invite you to take a moment and deeply reflect upon this question from an angel of the Lord: where have you come from and where are you going?

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee