Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lessons on Faith from a Prostitute???

This summer I'm reading through Francine Rivers' novellas on some of the women in the lineage of Christ. I've finished Tamar and Rahab and have just started Ruth. This is a wonderful summer series because it's a chance to glimpse back in time and also dive deeper into some of the wonderful character qualities in some women who were used by God, even though they were imperfect women. Now I know that's encouraging to all of us! And, they're short so I can finish them in just a day or two here or there.

From Tamar I learned the awesome power of being respectful to your husband. She was a beautiful example of keeping her mouth shut at the appropriate time, yet taking action when it was needed. She could have humiliated Judah for his betrayal of her but instead she kept her eye on the end result. She lost many battles along the way, but she definitely won the war. You see, humiliating Judah would have meant bringing herself down in the long run. She might have gotten short term satisfaction but she still wouldn't get what she wanted long term. The respect I give my husband to his face creates an environment that is more loving for me. The respect I give my husband behind his back makes me look really smart for the man I chose. Proverbs 31:23 says, "Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land." How can he be respected if his wife has so many negative things to say about him? A good lesson to tame my tongue when I'm frustrated or hurt and to go to the source when there's a problem rather than allow myself to vent to everyone else.

In the second book, I love the perspective the author has on Rahab. We are given the chance to consider how prostitution might have become her profession in the first place and why God might have chosen to save her, not only from prostitution but also from hopeless pagan life. With so little support, she trusted God completely based on the obvious power she had heard about. She recognized the pagan idols for what they were: wood, clay, and old bones. I've always thought about Joshua and the Israelites crossing the Jordon, circling Jericho, and honoring their word to Rahab, from Joshua's perspective but given my circumstances it was a great glimpse at how Rahab might have perceived things. She's waiting to be rescued from certain destruction. She sees them coming. Then they stop. Then a few days later they come again, but do they take the city? No! They circle it and leave. Then again. And again. Day after day, for 6 days, and on the 7th day, finally, it happens! After circling the city seven times, the walls come a crumblin' down! I'm sure she was excited each day thinking, "Perhaps today is the day I'm out of here!" She's also got to be bitterly disappointed each day as she sees them leave again. I can relate to that cycle. Despite the confusion, she keeps the faith. I was inspired by her.

I think the author hits the nail on the head when she describes each woman with one word: Tamar, a woman of hope, Rahab, a woman of faith. As I said, I've just started Ruth, and she's described as woman of love. After Ruth, is Bathsheba who received unlimited grace, and then Mary the mother of Jesus, a woman of obedience. Francine Rivers also did a series on some of the heroes in the Bible: Aaron (Moses' brother), Caleb, Jonathon (David's best friend), Amos, and Silas. Really I haven't read one of her books that I didn't like so I think I'll enjoy those, too. In her novel Redeeming Love, the story of Hosea, you can read the author's testimony in the back.

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Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff