Since I last posted we have traveled down the road of life and faith with Sarah and Rahab. Their stories and lives have impacted me and caused me to think of the many ways that my life resembles theirs. I'm just continually amazed by how God uses the lives of His people to bring glory to Himself. And not just that, He uses their lives and their experiences to teach them something about themselves. He seeks to comfort them in their distress and in their confusion. He stands with them giving support in each area of responsibility that they have.
Let's travel back to the tents and camels of Sarah and Abraham. Sarah's default is manipulation. My first thought when opening my bible study to the week on Sarah was "I probably won't relate too much to this week's study material". Wow...was I ever wrong! I have never considered myself a manipulative person. My default is quite the opposite, run from conflict. I had a faulty assumption that manipulation was characterized by active measures to get what you want. That is just not me. But as I looked deeper into Sarah's life and past the things that she did to manipulate the fulfillment of God's promise, I saw into her heart. What I saw was a woman who didn't trust God to come through on what He said He would do. I saw a woman too focused on the physical world and the power within herself that she almost missed the blessing all together. As I studied her life and considered her situation giving thought to her pattern of default, I found myself staring into my own hazel eyes.
I am Sarah too.
God has promised that I would be blessed and I am. He has promised that my life would have significance and it does. He has promised that He will never leave me and He never has. Yet, I doubt Him time and time again. Like Thomas doubting the truth of the resurrection of Jesus, I have doubted the activity of the Lord in my life. I pridefully say "I want to see the nail scars, I want to see the wound in His side". Maybe it's not so much pride these days. I know that He has changed my heart. I think it wasn't pride for Thomas either. Jesus knew his heart also and He allowed that doubt in Thomas. When He appeared to Thomas He told him to come and see the wounds in his hands, feet, and side. He invited Thomas to come and put his hand into the areas. He commanded Thomas to not doubt but believe. And after he commands this of Thomas He says blessed are they who believe but do not see.
That is me.
Jesus understands my doubts and confusion. He meets me in the middle of them. He allows them to enter my mind so that my faith is made stronger. And He has never, ever, ever let me down. Even when I feel let down and confused by the seemingly lack of activity in my life, He is there. Sarah taught me a lot!
Now lets travel to the city of Jericho. Here we meet a woman named Rahab. She is a woman of ill-repute. Her choices in life have landed her on the doorstep of the oldest profession in the world: prostitution. Her default to life's struggles is sexual promiscuity. Although this has never been part of my story I have known many women with a promiscuous past. In my conversations with them I have found a deep brokenness resulting from giving their bodies in a way that the Lord never intended. The assumption that is made about the life of the promiscuous woman is that she has no dignity and no boundaries. I would venture to say that what lies beneath is a deep sense of shame from the deep well of sin. Our Rahab was a woman who no doubt suffered deep shame. But the amazing thing is how God attended to her need and forgave her sinful lifestyle. He allowed the two Israelite men to enter her home and business and treat her with respect and kindness. He determined that she was worth saving. There was action necessary for the survival of her family but it was not what determined her worth. God used her to bring about His plan to save not just her but all mankind for Jesus came from her line.
I am Rahab too.
I have made choices that cause the shame within to flare up. Over the years I have learned valuable lessons on how not to let shame define me but I've yet fully understood how to completely give it over to Jesus. Rahab trusts the men and in turn trusts the Lord. She makes a choice to step out with tremendous courage and her risk is acknowledged. She inherits a new identity with her leap of courage. True to their word, the two men return and take Rahab and her family to safety outside of the Israelite camp. We learn as we read further that Rahab didn't stay outside the boundaries of the camp for long. She is welcomed in as a new daughter when she marries Salmon. Before long she and Salmon welcome baby Boaz into their family. And if you are a reader of scripture, you know where Boaz comes into the picture of the story of Jesus. He is the wonderful kinsman redeemer that saves Ruth from a lifetime of widowhood. But that is another story for another week!
Rahab and Sarah. They both made choices apart from the guidance of the Lord. They both step out in faith and turn from their natural inclination to default. They both are used mightily in the plans of God. They both inherit a new identity.
Sarah the barren one becomes Sarah the mother of nations.
Rahab the prostitute becomes Rahab the princess.
I am Sarah and Rahab. A woman drawn to default. A woman drawn to manipulation. A woman seduced by the trappings of the world. I too have encountered the Lord. And in my small but great courage, I have received a new identity.
I am no longer Bethany the manipulative one, the one who runs away from pain and conflict, the one who's shame defines her.
I am Bethany, a Daughter of the King of Kings, loved and cherished, valued, chosen, and redeemed. I am a child of God who has been set free.