I've been reading Genesis this week... People always say you can't exhaust God's Word and I believe that. Now though I'm starting to understand that it's really because we are ever changing... therefore you never read the same thing the same way.
Take the great love story of Isaac and Rebekah The first time I read this story I was a brand new Christian at the ripe young age of 19. To me at that point in my life this was the most inspirational love story in the Bible. I focused in on the parts of God leading Abraham's servant right to the "the right woman" and it all played out so perfectly. I was inspired by the love at first sight, dreamy feel of Rebekah's first meeting with Isaac and I just knew it was "Happy Ever After".
As a baby Christian at the age of 19 this story had captured my fancy... God was gonna work it all out. I was a new creation... My life from this point on would be cloudless days, filled with rainbows and I would meet the "right" one, and we would be perfect together and we would be perfect parents and because we followed Jesus EVERYTHING would be PERFECT... Idealistic, but true nonetheless. Maybe it's youth that makes us dream such impossible dreams.
17 years later I read this story so differently... I bet Rebekah didn't expect things to turn out the way they do. I bet when she was swept up onto that camel, rescued from her father's house, and delivered straight into the arms of Mr. Right, she was thinking this is the beginning of the rest of my life. I bet she had a vision of perfection in mind.
Maybe it's my experience that makes me think she was SHOCKED with reality. Was she confused and upset with 20 years of barrenness. In a culture where children were highly prized and the most important reason for marriage I imagine that she was NOT expecting to have any trouble producing a child. THIS IS NOT WHAT SHE EXPECTED.
After her husband pleaded with the Lord (lesson 1... hardship draws us to the Lord), she became pregnant, but we know that this pregnancy didn't go the way she expected. Again we see a situation that draws her to the Lord. She goes to Him to find out what is going on.
Rebekah that young idealist is learning that the harsh realities of life make us draw near to a loving God.
I bet Rebekah didn't expect to behave so imperfectly... I know I didn't. She probably expected Mr. Right to always do and say the right thing. She probably expected Mr. and Mrs. Right to bear perfectly delightful children... but as the story goes this didn't happen. In fact the legacy of the patriarch's family is filled with people behaving badly. Not at all what you would expect to find in God's chosen family...
The problems in her family are enough to break any mom's heart. We could just inject in this story our own story, because I''m sure we can all relate. This is not at all what we expected. At one point Rebekah even tell Isaac that "I am weary of my life." Have you ever been there? Has life turned out less perfect than you thought it would?
What can I learn from Rebekah's life? ALOT. First and foremost the story is not about Mr. or Mrs. Right. The story is not about them at all. Mr. and Mrs. Right don't exist. The story is about the graciousness of a PERFECT God who chooses a regular family to bring forth His son so that we can be saved from our sins.
Secondly, I can see from Rebekah's life that LIFE IS NOT PERFECT. Life is HARD, life is painful, and life can make you weary. The weariness of life can be just the thing that draws us into a deeper relationship with God. Our faults, failures and weakness are the perfect backdrop to see God's AMAZING GRACE.
The failure of others (husbands and children) to meet our expectations of perfection can be just the thing that highlights our need for a relationship with a loving, perfect God, who will never leave us or forsake us.
Finally, this story is our story because life was never meant to be perfect. This place is not our home. The struggles of life serve as a constant reminder that Jesus is preparing a place for us. THAT place is the place of NO MORE tears, NO MORE dying, NO MORE pain. That place where God will be our God and HE will dwell with us is where our affection should be.
This life has moments of pure perfection... but they are fleeting. This life has joy, but NOTHING in this life can compare to what He has planned for those who love him.
This story has become for me a reminder that sometimes life is painful, BUT God is for me. It reminds me that I am NOT perfect and that's not why God chose me. My husband is not perfect, my children are not perfect. This story reminds me that in spite of all that God loves me and went to extraordinary lengths to show HIS great love for ordinary, messed up, always doing the wrong thing people!!! OH what Good news that is, because I could NEVER live up to the life I did expect.