We don’t have a camel. Our farm has at least one of many different critters, but we don’t have a camel. Ah, but if we did . . .
If we had a camel, I would invite children to come see, smell and hear this unusual creature. If the camel wouldn’t talk to us, we’d play camel sounds from the internet. We would talk about how far they can go on a gallon of water and how much water they can drink at one time.
And sure enough, we’d talk about Rebekah — that amazing young woman in the Bible story who impressed a man traveling with camels with her kind heart, strong arms, beautiful face and deep courage. We’d ask, “Would you leave your home to move to a new country? Would you listen for what God says in your heart?”
If we had a camel, I would invite youth groups to come see it. Maybe we’d have a contest to see which team can fill their water tank the fastest. Camels drink a lot of water, you know. And what if the only person to water these camels, one jar at a time, was a young woman? And what if that feat was part of the process that earned her the invitation to leave her home and family to marry in a foreign land? We’d ask, “Would you do what Rebekah did?” We’d explore questions like, “What are the ways God might be moving in your life?”
If we had a camel, I would invite adult faith-formation groups to come see it. Maybe we’d listen to the sounds camels make, and maybe we’d carry water. But maybe we’d just sit downwind so we can get the full smell effect, and we’d have a discussion about the young woman whose camel- watering abilities led her to a husband. We would ask questions like, “When have you trusted the inner voice of God, like Rebekah did, and stepped out into the unknown?” Or, “In what area of your life might you be hearing the words, like Rebekah did, ‘You go!’?”
If I only had a camel.
“But Carol,” my crafty friend says. “You have one with you all the time.” And she shows me how to trace around my open hand, flip the page upside down, and there, with a face added to the thumb and a tail tacked onto the pinkie, is a camel.
Don’t you just love faith formation? Don’t you love how creativity and everyday life and Bible stories all come together in the melting pot of the Spirit, and what comes out is a new way to think, see, experience and love God and each other? Don’t you just love how the people in the Bible were so much like us, and that even though we don’t water camels or ride one to a foreign land to meet our life partner, we deal with the same issues of trust and faith in God? Don’t you just love discovering new ways to think about old stories?
Carol Duerksen is a freelance writer and editor and on staff of Springs Forth! Faith Formation Inc. which publishes multiage curriculum online. Rebekah’s story is featured in the curriculum’s Smelly Camels unit.