Sunday, November 29, 2015

Better Than "The Soaps"

It is widely agreed upon, among those of us who follow Jesus, that marriage is a partnership between a man and a woman; and men and women are as different as night and day. Right?!  Certainly Charlie and I approach events, situations, home decorating, cooking (need I go on?) from perspectives that often prove to be challenging.

However, we have something in common (besides our love for Jesus) that provides a great backdrop for discussion; we both love to read.  Now, mind you, he goes for science fiction while I love a good romance.  My hubby loves history and politics while a good murder mystery (nothing too terribly lurid please) keeps me reading until the wee hours of the morning.

One evening last week, following our meal, we jumped into a fun discussion regarding something we had read.  It involved romance, deception, a strong male leading character, two women wanting the same man and a sexual encounter!  Hmmm.  Yes, we both found this story intriguing…worthy of discussion.

You may have guessed…the story came straight out of the Bible!  If you are not familiar with this amazing book, let me say it has some of the most compelling stories found anywhere.  God wrote His book through multiple authors and He wrote about REAL life! 

This particular after-dinner reading focused on the story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel.  Jacob fell head over heels in love with Rachel (the more attractive sister, or so the story goes) and was willing to work seven whole years for her father before he would be allowed to marry her.

Then, Laban (the father) tricks Jacob into “being with” (if you catch my drift) Leah, the sister. (They actually were considered married after that evening “together.”)  Yikes!  Jacob is onto this mess but a few hours too late; the deed has been done.  Eventually, Jacob is married to both sisters….at the same time.  (Keep in mind, monogamy has been God’s plan from the beginning; the Bible reports what was happening in the culture at the time.)

But here is what is so amazing.  Even though Jacob had multiple wives; even though he conceived children through maid servants of those wives….out of all of that, God established the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.  (I told you, these real life stories are better than the “soap operas” on TV!)

I see a great life lesson here.  God gives grace and purpose to His children, even when they mess up!  Jacob and his family, in spite of the drama, were true lovers of God.  They were ready to follow Him, to serve Him and to live with eternity in their hearts.

How often today do we meet someone who has come out of a rough family background… or been born under less than ideal circumstances…. or may have had a personal history of drug use or violence, and we judge them?  We often don’t see others as God sees them.  I have to plead “guilty” here.

There have been times in my life where I have come under great conviction of personal sin; reading the Bible and listening to the nudging of the Holy Spirit can do that.  Sin sometimes won and many of my personal choices had a negative impact on the people I loved the most.  My testimony as a Christian was tainted. 

Because of that brokenness in my life, even though I had acknowledged, confessed and repented of my sin, I seriously questioned if I should take on a leadership role in my church.

As I prayed for clear direction, a wonderful Christian friend took me straight to the genealogy of Jesus in the first chapter of the book of Matthew.  Of the five women listed, four of them were obviously sin-stained: prostitutes, an adulteress, and an idolatress…serious stuff!  Still, God included them in this illustrious list.  Each of them played a key role in the unfolding story that led to the birth of Jesus.

God is The One Who forgives, provides grace and calls us to live out the purposes that matter to Him.  What could be more glorious?!  He frees us and He lifts us up out of the muck and mire of life; no matter how much we mess up our lives, none of us is beyond His reach. 

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