Anne Cameron Cutri

Anne Cameron Cutri
Northern, Pennsylvania, USA
November 09
This blog is about the journey from here to there. Early posts have devotional poetry and prose with scripture included. Many deal with the difficulty of having people in my life who are living with cancer and have died from cancer. Now I'm focusing on going back to college in my 50's and discovering a new path to direct my art--which is art therapy. _________________________________________ All of the artwork I created unless otherwise noted. If you'd like to buy one of my paintings or contact me to say oh, give me a million dollars to help me in my artistic endeavors : See my art and purchase prints here: orginals: merchandise: __________________________________________ The scriptures are usually taken from the New Revised Standard w/ apocrypha or the New King James.

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MARCH 3, 2010 9:55PM

How Bad Do You Want it--When God Changes Your Name

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Psalm 42
How Bad do you want it-When God changes your name

Sarai really wanted a child
she prayed for 77 years
Still, she bore no child.
So she told her husband Abram
to lay with her slave-girl, Hagar,
so that he would have a descendant.

Why did she suggest that?
Was it out of love? Desperation? Defeat?
When Abram did and Hagar conceived,
Hagar was not pleased, and neither was Sarai
so Hagar ran with her child, Ishmael,
into the wilderness.

Hagar did not have a choice but to run,
Sarai and Abram were out of the will of God.
Ishmael was destined to be a "wild-ass of a man"1
Still, God made it so Hagar was accepted back into Abram's home,
and said He would greatly multiply her offspring.

Thirteen years had passed, Abram was 99,
and God appeared promising him
in a covenant he would be an ancestor
to a multitude of nations.
The Lord changed his name to Abraham
as a symbol of the covenant.
He then changed Sarai's name to Sarah,
and blessed her with a son at 90.
Impossible? Abraham laughed
at the idea, but it happened.2

God heard their prayers and made
promises that would cause them
to internally change and adjust
even to the point of changing
their name, signifying
the beginning of a new life.

When Moses led the people
out of bondage into the wilderness,
they had to roam for 38 years
because of the sin of unbelief.
Was it because they couldn't adjust
to their new life? They couldn't fathom
the land of milk and honey?
I think so.

Each tribe
had a role as to which part of the
tent of the tabernacle they would carry.
Only Aaron and his sons could
touch the Holy Things,
wrapping them carefully in cloth
and leather and setting them
so that the Kohathites could
carry them with poles.
If they even looked at the Holy Things
they would die.3

Why would God be so harsh?
They were waiting for the next
generation to be born so that
they could transition in to the new
life God had prepared.
Only Joshua and Caleb saw the promised land.4

Jesus told the disciples that they would
be changed from Glory to Glory.
But they wanted to hold on to the old
ways of Moses.5

God wants to fulfill our dreams.
But we have to let Him do it.
Lord help us to let go of the past.
Help us to let go of the familiar,
though it doesn't work for us any more.
We want to believe in the
better things you have for us!

Unstick our stuckness!
Loosen our grip!

When you want to make changes
you will make changes.
We can do it the easy way
or the hard way.
We can make the decision in
ourselves or you can
create circumstances
to cause us to have to change.
Oh Lord God,
Help us to choose the easier way!
Let us throw ourselves against
The Rock and become a living stone!6

1 Genesis 16:1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, 2 and Sarai said to Abram, "You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. 4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!" 6 But Abram said to Sarai, "Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please." Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her. 7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, "Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" She said, "I am running away from my mistress Sarai." 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit to her." 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, "I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude." 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her, "Now you have conceived and shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael, for the Lord has given heed to your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone, and everyone's hand against him; and he shall live at odds with all his kin."

2 Genesis 17:
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous." 3 Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4 "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.
16 I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her." 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, "Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" 18 And Abraham said to God, "O that Ishmael might live in your sight!" 19 God said, "No, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.

3 Numbers 4: . 4 The service of the Kohathites relating to the tent of meeting concerns the most holy things. 5 When the camp is to set out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and take down the screening curtain, and cover the ark of the covenant with it; 6 then they shall put on it a covering of fine leather, and spread over that a cloth all of blue, and shall put its poles in place.
15 When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, as the camp sets out, after that the Kohathites shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, or they will die. These are the things of the tent of meeting that the Kohathites are to carry.
17 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 18 You must not let the tribe of the clans of the Kohathites be destroyed from among the Levites. 19 This is how you must deal with them in order that they may live and not die when they come near to the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in and assign each to a particular task or burden. 20 But the Kohathites must not go in to look on the holy things even for a moment; otherwise they will die.

4 Numbers 14: 24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me wholeheartedly, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. 25 Now, since the Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys, turn tomorrow and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea." 26 And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying: 27 How long shall this wicked congregation complain against me? I have heard the complaints of the Israelites, which they complain against me. 28 Say to them, "As I live," says the Lord, "I will do to you the very things I heard you say: 29 your dead bodies shall fall in this very wilderness; and of all your number, included in the census, from twenty years old and upward, who have complained against me, 30 not one of you shall come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.

5 John 5: 39 "You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41 I do not accept glory from human beings. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?"

6 1 Peter 2:1 Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and 5 like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in scripture: "See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." 7 To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner," 8 and "A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do

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I haven't been able to do this every day like I intended, it's been every couple of days, but I'm doing the best I can , and hopefully they are improving from the first ones!
These are hard verses you are taking on, I commend you on your work. This section of verse speeks vollumes to my heart. Im a fairly newleywed of 6years and we have been trying to have a baby for maybe 5 out of 6 years. These verses give me hope. I keep having dreams of me and a daughter reading the scripture together by her bedside, real vivid dreams I think are real then wake up. And I think her name is Sarah. Perfect right? :)
It is perfect Greatfullheart and I will be praying for You! I didn't have my daughter until I was 39 under not the best circumstances but she is my pride and joy. I wish I would have had a better situation earlier in life to have more children. But she's the greatest!
"Hagar did not know her place"
Not sure what you are getting at with this, but it might be helpful to try to understand the story from a Muslim perspective, as well as a Christian one (not to mention Jewish). It is easy to use the Word unwisely, unwittingly.

I also love this story.

Best, Risa
I saw a great one woman show many years ago where one of the characters portrayed was Hagar. That, and the Handmaid's Tale have always left me with a great distaste for this particular bible story. (keep in my mind I'm admittedly ignorant about most of the bible.)
But, I do love your painting! And I like your message at the end too.
Risa, I don't claim to be a theologian and I don't know why I'm required to know muslim and jewish thought. I am interpreting them the way I understand them. Besides if you don't know what I'm getting at with that statement how is it that you think I'm using the word unwisely? I am speaking of that fact that all of us must know where God wants us, at any given time. Hagar was a slave she didn't really have a choice but when she ran away, God still blessed her and told her to go back to Abram's house. I will certainly seek council from Monte who does hold degrees to see if He sees any problem with my interpretation.
Caroline, the old testament is wrought with seemingly intensely unfair commands by God. But the more I delve into the old and new they are all starting to make a little more sense in terms of the way God needed to work at that time and how he works today. That said it is still a Great Mystery and tomorrow I may see it a totally different way.
Anne -- this is the story for our times! These times of great changes do require that adaptability. And it's so true that we wander when we can't fathom the good already promised and awaiting us! A lot of the world is in that stage right now of what you say, that God is changing the circumstances so that we'll have to change. If we can only help each other go with that beautiful flow...

(And take your time with these creations of yours, if you wish! They are rich, rich, and we are all benefitting!) Love to you, Julie
I see letting go of the past, of the "safe" thing, as the hardest act. Maybe it's all about faith & falling back into trust. (I always felt bad for Hagar & Ishmael -- early single motherhood!)
Julieshanti: yes that is the point of the psalm in fact many of my psalms point to change. It's interesting though, because certainly just because I write these things , doesnt' mean I have it mastered. I had just written about money and God (what price for God) and it was suggested I put this blog on blogger (apparently the ads there pay better) I started thinking that way and preparing to do that website, when I started working on the next psalm and I couldn't feel the anointing. I couldn't get where God wanted to take me. So I asked Him if I had done something to offend Him and he told me the above. He didn't tell me to do this somewhere else of to make money. That he was going to take care of me financially and not to mix the two. Was my face red. So I am totally open to someone telling me how they see the story, and how we may have had our own personal experiences.
Suzi, I know, women in general in that time period were thought of as property, even worse their slaves. As a slave she was stuck obeying her master because how else was she to survive? The angel of God spoke to her and comforted her (see verse 8 in Genesis above) and tells her the painful truth of how her son will be ( at least he preparing her) But it is Abrams responsibility to take care of Ishamael. Later on in scripture Hagar named God "El-roi", for she said, "Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?" (v 13) In those days one could die if as in the Kohathites, even if one looked at the Holy Things (the utensils, furniture of the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle)
I think I totally needed to read this today:

"God wants to fulfill our dreams.
But we have to let Him do it.
Lord help us to let go of the past.
Help us to let go of the familiar,
though it doesn't work for us any more.
We want to believe in the
better things you have for us!
Unstick our stuckness!
Loosen our grip!
When you want to make changes
you will make changes.
We can do it the easy way
or the hard way.
We can make the decision in
ourselves or you can
create circumstances
to cause us to have to change."

Thank you for your perfect timing. :)
I love the paintings you select to go with the readings, Anne. This is a lot of hard work, but you certainly seem to enjoy it. Thank you for sharing it with us here. Rated.
Lisa, I'm so glad you were blessed by this! And I pray if you're struggling with letting go of things of the past you let go and trust that there is something more beyond it. Only God knows the timing, but His timing is perfect.
FunSunA, thank you! I do enjoy it , but I was starting to not enjoy it because I was putting pressure to do a psalm a day. I had to step back and say, I don't think that this is what God intended that I should be grouchy with my daughter and stressed that I couldn't get the quiet time to complete a psalm. I'm realizing that it seems like the scripture God is leading me to becomes more difficult and time consuming and if I am to honor the God then I must take time and thoughtfully meditate, to make sure I'm discerning properly.
"Hagar did not know her place..."

Ultimately it all worked out for her: she was blessed to get that comic strip named after her (albeit with the suffix "The Horrible."

Plus, she counts among her descendents the famous singer who fronted Van Halen after David Lee Roth quit.

So she's got that going for her.
very funny. She has gotten a bum rap, just as eve has and so many of the women in the bible. As if it is their fault, when as in eve and as in the above story Abram/Adam went along with the suggested "out-of-God's-Will scenerios that their women suggested.You're the second person that did not like that line, could you tell me your interpretation of the story?
Ann this is so, so beautiful. It is the best that I have seen from you so far. And it gives me much hope. Thank you! God bless. :-)
Anne - I love this -

"I have called you by your name and you are mine..."
Isaiah 43:1

Patty thank you so much and I'm glad it gives you hope because I know you're going through a tough time right now, but I know this is true, in this challenge God is grooming you for something more, you have a good mind and He needs people like you!
Carole that's perfect and that one sentence says so much!
Anne, I admire your efforts in this series, and hope I can be helpful in looking at an issue this psalm raises, as you requested.

As to the theological issue that was raised by Risa. He raises an important point. And, knowing him, he was doing it to point out a different way to look at some important texts. I do not know him to be unkind, so please take his point as an honest and constructive criticism, in the positive meaning of that term.

One way one might look at this pericope is that Hagar's role was to be obedient to Sarai, not bragging about her baby. But then again another way one might look at it is that anything Hagar said would be considered bragging by Sarai.

And perhaps Sarai was spitefully jealous and sorry for her decision to "give" Hagar to Abram for sexual intercourse in hopes of him producing an heir. Unfortunately for Sarai, it works. But she now realizes where that puts her. Yet, without and heir, the Promise dies.

One could argue that Hagar not knowing her place was a good thing. And ultimately she decided she would rather run away and have her and her child die than remain in that situation of bondage. That took enormous courage.

Some things might be kept in mind. First, Hagar had no choice whether or not to sleep with Abram. She was a slave, chattel, and that needs to be highlighted. Today the slavery would be condemned and Abram's sex act would be rape. Still, God protected her.

It would be good to add that Abram loved Ishmael and even begged God to accept him as Abram's first born and favored son. God did not. Which is unsurprising given that Genesis was written by insiders for insiders.

Verse 17:20 was, I believe, intentionally added to rehabilitate Ishmael a bit after the denunciation implied in 16:12. Those two verses were written by different redactors within the J,E,D,P threads, and reflect differing feelings about Ishmael that developed at differing periods within Israel.

At 17:12 God says, "As for Ishmael, I have heard you. [ie: heard Abram's plea that "Ishmael might live in YOUR sight" my emphasis] "I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous; he shall be a father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation."

The next verse goes on to say that the Abrahamic Covenant, however, will be established with Isaac, the future son. This is also consistent with keeping the covenant within the blood lines of pure insiders, which would be expected given the source of redaction.

Later, Abram circumcises himself and Ishmael and God does not object to that, even though Ishmael is only half from the family of Abraham. So once more you see the tension that is present within the Israelite writers themselves as to how legitimate Ishmael should be considered.

One might even argue that it is amazing that Ishmael is given any status at as since he was a "half breed." But the redactors knew that many of the ancestors willingly married the indigenous people of the lands through which they passed, and it was only much later, somewhat after the first exile, but especially after the second, that "racial purity" became a huge issue: cf: Ezra and Nehemiah.

Considering that these stories were oral traditions, handed down for hundreds of years before they were ever committed to paper and then conflated by four major streams of redactors, I think that to take them as historical truth is extremely problematic.

Others do, but that would be like taking the tales told of the ancestors of the English peoples from the days of Arthur and Robin Hood as somehow historically "true." They are not. These redactors were gathering family stories of their faith, not writing history texts.

Also, I would ask that we all keep in mind that what we Christians call the Old Testament is properly known as the Hebrew Bible, and some basic understanding of the Jewish faith and history is very important to understanding the Christian faith. And that is why it is good to know at least some Jewish thought. Actually, if you study the "Old Testament" you are automatically learning Jewish thought.

And, we must keep in mind that the Muslim peoples draw their own ancestral lineage from Abraham, through Ishmael, and that is why we need to respect and understand at least a bit of that story and what was made of it. The bottom line is that "God blessed Ishmael." And we need to respect that and the religion that grew out of that blessing.

I hope that provides a bit of perspective on these texts that might help us find some common ground. Each of us has to decide how we interpret these texts but there is no question in my mind that they can be interpreted honestly in different ways by different people.

For those who are interested, I have written about the story of Abraham and Sarah covering a bit more ground than is covered here. I wrote that from the perspective of Jews and Christians but discuss how the sub plot of Hagar and Ishmael is woven into the fabric of the story. "Claiming the Stories of Faith."

Thank you for asking me to comment on this issue.

God bless,

Thank you monte for your enlightening commentary, however I don't know that I was taking any of it as historical fact necessarily, just like the other stories, I was using them it illustrate a point, but I will change that line to say Hagar didn't have a choice, or Hagar was a victim to their sin.