Character Begins With You

I promised an Old Testament moment- journey with me, will ya?

I loved the first time I read that Isaac loved Rebekah. I re-read it over and over, because I had never seen anywhere in the Bible where a husband and wife loved each other. Instead it was all legalistic rules about daughters being sold, or given as property over to another. It made me sad for the, but somewhere inside of me, I always believed I could be in a loveless marriage and bring love and joy to it. I don’t know why I believed I had super powers: for the record- I don’t and I do love my husband and he loves me too.

I started to read about Isaac and Rebekah again last night and I was captivated by the kindness of this woman who loved her husband, and was a selfless individual. She was kind to a stranger and his animals. In Genesis we read that she not only got water for this stranger, but also for his camels, and she didn’t dawdle or take her time, she ran to care for them. That impressed me. I thought- this chick puts me to shame. I started to study what I was reading, and the more I read, the more I realized that I really don’t understand, or attempt to learn enough about what God has said to us in days past to support His dream for our future.

Rebekah marries Isaac when he is 40. It says that she was a great comfort to him at the death of his mother. We learn that Isaac was given two similar situation to his fathers; he lied about his wife being his sister- gross- stop doing that guys! He got busted because he and his “wife” didn’t get a room; instead it says, ahem, “he groped her in public”… yep- that happened and I bet most of you ladies understand Rebekah’s plight- groping is never a good thing! His second issue like his father’s was a seemingly barren wife, and he prayed for 20 years before Rebekah became pregnant.

She of course in true God awesomeness was pregnant with twins. God is cool like that. At some point within her pregnancy she had to go to God for prayer because her twins were fighting each other in the womb… what in the world. What would that even be like? How incredibly painful. I know there were days that just one in my belly caused me anguish, but to have two battling so severely that I have to go to God for answers as to why? Well, that is an entirely different situation. God not only answered her with a simple- “because they will be rival nations”, but followed it up with- “oh, by the way- I hope this doesn’t affect you in your ooey gooey mommy heart- but your oldest sons descendants will serve the youngest sons descendants.”  The End… Just kidding.

Well as all mothers know, it affects us very deeply indeed to see injustice with our children and as uncommon births go, this one got interesting. Instead of a traditional baby boy a Big Foot was born. A hairy little baby, with his not so hairy brother holding his heel… smile- photo time! What’s a mom to do but love on the “normal” baby. I wonder if Esau and his hairy self was treated differently by his mother? So differently in fact that a parental preference is shown from mother to youngest son, Jacob and father to olde son, Esau. Jacob was at home more often with his mother in the house, while Esau joined his father and other men hunting and gathering; developing incredible skills outside.

Rebekah has spent the last 20 years of so hearing the words of the Lord rattling around in her head, and I wonder if she had ever shared them with Isaac?  Would that have changed his decision on his blessing? More of that in a few. Jacob proves that he has been under his mothers control using food as a weapon against his very hungry hunting, working out in the elements brother, and essentially trades his literal birthright because of his body’s physical need. I have to say I was shocked that He didn’t eat in the wild, or that he appeared back at home hungry, but more so that in his day and age he didn’t care about his birthright. It just doesn’t make sense- he was the grandson of Abraham! His grandfather was literally called the “Father of Nations”… that’s a wealthy guy, and the inheritance Isaac received was full and incredible. What person could care so little when status mattered sooo very much! Apparently Esau.

Jacob is well please with himself- but should he have been, I mean dudes typically just lie, women more often deceive- throw stones if you want- but it’s true. He resorted to what he had to have learned from life with his mother.

Time goes by- I didn’t study the timing… my bad.

Rebekah hears that Isaac is prepared to offer his blessing on Esau and she panics. She creates a plan to deceive her husband in a benefit to her youngest son. I am sure that what the Lord had said was in her mind throughout this and she was probably proud of herself, like she was bringing God’s plans to pass- how many of you know that while interesting in thought- that actually doesn’t work. His plans are good enough- He really doesn’t need you to do the planning, just the carrying out!  She actually sews and makes hairy items to cloak Jacob in. He goes to his father and receives the blessing, despite Isaac’s uneasiness at Jacob’s voice coming from Esau’s body. Don’t dupe blind people guys- It’s not cool.

Esau comes in from outside and prepares the meal as Jacob had already done and went to his father’s side, where Isaac learns that he has blessed the wrong son, and is unable to retract it. Esau weeps. I can not imagine the bitterness that I would feel at my brother, and certainly my mother when I found out her involvement. How could they take not only his birthright and the place of the first born son- but to steal the blessing- ouch.

His father gave a minimal blessing after this to Esau and what we see of Isaac’s interaction with Rebekah doesn’t show any antagonism at all… I know my husband would be furious with me. I don’t understand, and more so I am lost as to Rebekah’s change. How do you go from being the kind of woman that runs to get water for a strangers 10 camels to a women who deceives the man who loves her? Where did the change occur? Did bitterness come when she believed herself to be barren? Was she angry with the Lord for giving her a hairy son, maybe one who embarrassed her? What was it? Was it Isaac’s favoritism for Esau or just her love for Jacob? Did she just lose herself somewhere along the way? I don’t know. I have looked, I can’t see where a direct answer is given for why she would do these things.

I can tell you what I have learned from my short time being a wife and mother- I fail so often. I believe as women, we can get swept away in our failures, and what we can present to others matters far more than it should. Rebekah wasn’t unlike any of us. Each of us has hurdles to jump. I remember when I was sweet and kind, and completely un-jaded by life. A time before I knew agony in marriage, agony in death, and agony in dreams. I was different. I bet you were too. Back before you made that one mistake that has marked you. I bet if we got all of Rebekah’s story we would learn that there was a moment where everything changed. An event, a word, a heartbreak, that caused her to nosedive big time. Can you imagine what the cost of her deception was in monetary form? I bet none of us has ever cost one of our children a million bucks. The value of the inheritance Abraham left to Isaac was significant. I bet none of us has ever tried for literally 20 years to get pregnant. If you have- Bless your heart- and leave a comment- because we want to celebrate God’s faithfulness with you. I bet none of us are prepared to see what our lives would look like written out by someone else’s hand. The shame I would feel- would be overwhelming; but for His grace and mercy.

What we learn from Rebekah is that when God makes a promise to you, He does not need your help, deceitful or faithful to make it happen. He just needs you to be willing to carry out what He asks of you. There is beauty in that. In knowing that He has a plan that goes beyond you. If we didn’t believe that in the depths of our souls where would we rest? What we learn from her is that the beginning of our story doesn’t have to end the same, and vice versa. If you were like Rebekah- like the un-jaded me- we don’t have to stay in our “new”state- we can become even “newer” and reflect Him. We in fact, are called to look more like Him. There is more on the line than the way other people perceive us ladies, there is the internal perception our children not only see from us, but will reflect in themselves. We can build their character or break it. We can be a blessing to our husband or we can be a curse. It actually is, up to us.

May you have new strength to walk out His plans and purposes for you, May He show you the area of weakness that He will make strong, and may you choose to make today more than yesterday and the days before.

Blessings,

mel

The One who sees me

I have been reading in Genesis, about Abram (Abraham) and Sarai (Sarah), and there are so many discectable story lines!

The Bible is amazing.

Sarai is desperate for a child, a promised child. Her husband has been told he is the Father of Nations, and yet after being together for YEARS, she has been unable to give him a child, or to love on a child of her own. My biological clock was ticking when I was 18. I couldn’t wait to be a mother. I became a mother at 23. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be older than my grandmother before I had a child. Can you feel her desperation.

I guarantee, she cried on Abrams chest night after night. That she sunk into herself a little more everyday… Can you imagine? Some of you may be able to imagine just that very thing. Let us know if that is you, we will join you in prayer.

Sarai has become so desperate that she has now decided to give her servant to her husband, so that she can build a family through another women. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to “own” a person, or dictate to them what they will and won’t do with their bodies, especially for my own selfish needs. Unfortunately, in that time, this was probably a more normal custom than we realize. Probably often done in secret to protect a family line.

16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slavenamed Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

I am amazed at Abram- he actually speaks with God. Has a relationship that you and I will not have until we arrive at Heaven’s gates. He sees God. When his wife suggests he sleep with his wife’s servant he agrees! He doesn’t say, “No Sarai, God has promised that we would be parents.” Nope. Abram acts in his humanity and says, ok! Sounds good, Ill do it. A real punishment, eh?

Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years,Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.

Hagar is in the unfortunate position as a servant, that her orders are given and she must obey. She sleeps with Abram, and they conceive. Hagar, begins to become jealous- uh, yeah… I would too- I was forced to sleep with this man and carry his child, and then I am required to give him over to the woman I work for. I will see this child everyday all day and he won’t know who I am!

Sarai is given permission to treat Hagar however she wants per Abram, so she mistreated her. It doesn’t tell us how, but assuming that she has already been “owned” for potentially years, she has encountered various behaviors from her mistress, but Sarai has gotten so bitter and jealous that she has now gone beyond the normal way of treating her servant and upgraded to being down right nasty. I would guess that Sarai’s anger would have led her to behaviors that harmed Hagar, to the point that Hagar left! She is committing an illegal act by leaving. She isn’t independent, she isn’t under her own will. She wouldn’t risk it all to run away and have a baby alone in the wilderness.

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”

6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.

As God does, he runs her down. He finds her in the form of an angel. I love that the Lord asks questions of us, when he knows the answer.

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

She says back, Hey there.. yeah, I am leaving. I’m done. I am running away… are you blind? Do you not know who I am, or what I have done, or what has been done to me?

“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.

Then in a bizarre twist to Hagar, the angel of the Lord says- go back, and submit. He adds a special blessing to this; I will increase your descendants. He places her eyes on the future instead of the right now!

9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:

“You are now pregnant
    and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,[a]
    for the Lord has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
    his hand will be against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
    toward[b] all his brothers.”

I can only imagine, the tears coursing down her cheeks, as she told him, You are the God who sees me.

13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen[c] the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi[d]; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.

15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

He sees all. He knows all, He asks questions to cause us to inspect ourselves. He then guides us gently, back to the path we must walk down. Hagar’s life, and the life of her shared son, Ishmael, is one of great torment, but it is one of fulfilled promise. He will do what He says He will do. If Hagar hadn’t turned back at that moment, she would have lived a very different life, and Ishamel would not have been able to become the father of nations. When we go against God’s plan, we birth something wild, and against God’s character; an Ishamel. Sarai learned this the hard way, and caused great devastation to Hagar, Ishmael, and Abram. I am sure Issac wasn’t without scaring as well; how would his parents relationship not have been affected by such events.

I have an Ishmael, a decision made to work around God’s plan, one that I must bare and claim responsibility for. God has proven gracious, much as He did for Hagar, and Sarai, He allowed me to have my will, but then He gently corrected me, and encouraged me to return to Him, where I could see Him, and He proved that He sees me.

Your Ishmael wasn’t born to hold you down, but to give you a deeper relationship with the One who sees you.

Blessings,

mel