I want you to swear by the Lord , the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.” (NIV)
In a culture where we value fall back plans, and fail safe mechanisms, Abraham sits in the seat of a fool. He has been promised a future legacy through his son Isaac, but that legacy depends on Isaac having children. The old father however will not simply leave his sons future to the winds of romance nor to the fickle doorway of convenience; you see, Abraham has been here before. This old man waited decades to see his own son born, trying an alternate solution in the process and eventually finding out that faith is better than pragmatism. And so Abraham’s voice of experience demands that his servant promise that he will not simply find Isaac a wife, but that he will find the wife that makes the most sense of the prophetic destiny that Abraham understood his and Isaac’s life to hold. Didn’t God tell this old man that nations would be blessed and affected by his offspring? Would a wise man let that kind of importance be left to pick up lines at a Canaanite singles mixer? No. The intractability of Abraham is justified because he, more than Isaac and more than his servant and friend Eliezer, had an idea of how much actually hung in the balance here.
What must strike an honest reader of this passage is Abraham’s intolerance to any solution other than his own. It seems as though the old Patriarch would prefer to let Isaac die single before he would allow him to marry the wrong woman. No safety net for the God-promised future of Abe’s family here; it’s all or nothing in this father’s heart. Some things, perhaps, are so important that it is better to not do them at all if they can’t be done the right way.
Wisdom is not foolish. Planning is a best practice, certainly. But sometimes God asks us to be intolerant of safety nets. Sometimes God pierces our heart with such a strong sense of responsibility or destiny or trajectory that we need to untie the ropes that have secured us for so long and be willing to walk out on the high-wire with a wildness that can hardly be explained to someone who has never be in the presence of a consuming fire.