Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Redeeming Love.

This is the rest of the story... 

I wish could say that my transformation from dark angel to saint was immediate, but it wasn't.  I had no idea that the Devil likes to go to church too and he knows just who to saddle up to.  It didn't take long for the good little church boys to find out what kind of girl had shown up in their midst and I found out all too quickly how much they had in common with the bad boys.  I didn't yet know that my worth and value was not in what I had to offer, but who I was in Christ and there are some habits that die hard, like looking for love. 

I had never wanted to be a hypocrite so at 21 I left the church for good.  I decided if I was always going to be a child of darkness, then that's just who I would be.  My heart battered and bruised more than ever before I plunged head long into the darkness.  I left Jesus, but he wouldn't leave me.  Sometimes at night after I had gotten really drunk I would pull my Bible out and start reading.  I would cry and wish that I could be a good person.  The boys who knew my number wouldn't leave me alone and I just didn't know how to say no.  I wasn't worth saying No.  I wasn't worth a decent guy.  I wasn't worth anything, but a few minutes of pleasure. 

For a second job an old friend offered me a preschool teaching position and I fell in love with the kids that were in my class, but it didn't take long for my friend to recognize that I had an alcohol problem.  She called me into her office and she said, "Be in church on Sunday or don't come in on Monday."  I'm sure she didn't know what to do with me and she just wanted to help me.  So, I showed up on Sunday Morning...  Which was even harder than walking into church the first time.  These people knew me now and they knew what I had been doing.  I'm sure there had been rumors of why I ran away in the first place, but here I was and I couldn't leave now.  I would have done anything to keep my job, because I loved those kids and I just thought being their teacher was the closest I would ever come to being a mommy. 

I left church that morning knowing I had to go back that night.  I felt pulled back.  That night I went back to church and I really can't remember anything about it, but I got in the car and started the drive home.  We lived about 45 minutes away at the time, so I had plenty of time to think.  At one point on the drive home I could see a bridge coming up and I prayed, "Lord, if you can not change me, then kill me."  I was ready to drive that car over the bridge.  I wanted to be free. 

I know people say you can't hear the audible voice of God, but if He is God I guess He can do what He wants and I heard Him.  His message came through loud and clear.  "My Word (the Bible) can change you."  Well, if that was His answer and He was willing to spare my life, I might as well give it one last go.  I devoured His Word from that point on.

When I started reading the Bible for myself the things I found there astounded me.  I couldn't believe some of these people and the things they did.  I couldn't believe that God would use such a shady bunch of people and I found hope there.  During my day job when the little people would nap I would get my Bible out and read for 2 hours.  I read the Old Testament and I was shocked, but what blew my mind was a small section in Matthew chapter 1.  It was just a list of names.  Nothing exciting, but I couldn't believe one of the names that was listed there.  Surely her story wasn't something to be proud of. 

In Matthew chapter 1 before introducing us to the Savior about to be born, the author gives us a genealogy.  A list of names, a family tree.  In verse 5 it says, "Salmon begat Boaz by Rahab..."

Rahab was a harlot (prostitute) from Jericho.  She had great faith in the God of Israel and she was instrumental in helping Israel capture the city of Jericho.  Because of her help 2 spies promised her that if she would hang a scarlet thread out of her window when they came to take the city, she and all that were with her would be saved. 

Her story is wonderful and amazing and you think it's over at the end of Joshua when the Children of Israel have conquered the city and taken Rahab and her family into their camp.  BUT Her story is far from over.  In fact it's what we have to piece together ourselves that makes her story and GOD'S extravagant grace so amazing.

In Matthew we find out that someone married Rahab the foreign harlot.  Can you imagine how that went.  From family to friends I'm sure Salmon was getting an earful.  Everyone repeating the same thing, "You know what kind of woman she is, Why would you marry her?!", "You're going to regret this." 

But what they didn't understand is when a woman who has worn a scarlet letter her whole life meets a God who gives her the love she's always longed for and the worth that no man could give her... She's a new creation.  She's not that old harlot she once was...  She's been changed. 

It's been argued that the man who married her was one of the spies that she helped in Jericho.  We don't really know much about him, but I'm sure EVERY man and woman in that camp knew what kind of woman she was.  Salmon must of saw something in Rahab that others didn't see.  Maybe it was her blind faith in His God?  I have no idea, but one thing I know for sure, God was more than good to Rahab.  Rahab became the mother of a son named Boaz, who had an equally beautiful story, but for another day.  Boaz had a son named Obed.  Obed had a son named Jesse and Jesse had a son named David.  KING DAVID.  A man after God's own heart.  A man handpicked by God to be King of Israel. 

It blows my mind that God chose a foreign prostitute from Jericho to be the great, great, great grandmother of King David.

When I read all this my heart began to hope that my scarlet letter could be removed.  That one day God would send a man, who would see more in me, someone who would love me like Jesus loves me.  Someone who would want me to be the mother of his children.  I was 24 when I began to pray for that husband and that future.  Not too long after that an old friend came back into my life.  We started going to the same church and He had recently given His life to Christ.  He was so nice to me.  He knew who I had been.  He knew everything about me.  He was always kind.

On night in October he asked me on a date.  I knew the moment that I said yes that this is the one that God had sent to answer my prayers.   Our first date was what any first date should be.  He brought me roses and opened doors and treated me like a lady.  Healing began that night.  He held my hand and he hugged me goodnight, but he left it at that.  We were basically inseparable after that night. 

On Christmas we were sitting in the living room with his family when he got down on his knee and asked me to marry him.  I couldn't believe this was really happening to me.  I had thought I would have to move away and start over fresh where no one knew who I was.  Instead God gave me a man who knew everything and loved me anyway.  Just like Jesus that Christmas so many years before when I gave my life to a God who knew everything and loved me anyway. 

I'm sure that Rahab believed her life would always be selling her body to make a living for her family.  In her wildest dreams she couldn't imagine the plans that an unseen God had for her.  I'm sure she's in heaven right now at the feet of her Savior rejoicing in that He would choose her to be a part of His story. 

There's another story in the Bible that reminds me of Rahab's story and my own.  

"And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began  to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with fragrant oil." 

The man who had invited Jesus to his house thought to himself, "If Jesus were a prophet he would know what manner of woman this is who is touching him."  Luke 7:39

Jesus says, "Therefore I say to you, her sins which are many, are forgiven, for she loves much.  But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."  Luke 7:47

It's been 15 years since God made me a promise that He could change me and I wake up everyday and look around and I can't believe my life.  I can't believe how good God has been to me.  His Word is changing me.  It's not an immediate work.  It's a daily thing, but through His word I have found people, just like me, who were extravagantly loved and I found the strength and courage to believe that if God would choose a harlot from Jericho to be part of His family surely He would want me too.

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