Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Women of Faith - Rebekah.

Rebekah - Who are you when no one's looking?
Boy, have I missed writing or what! Well, writing something that isn't papers or essays or quiz answers, that is.
In Genesis 24 we read of Abraham sending a servant out to find a bride for his son, Isaac. If I were this guy, I'd be a little afraid. Hello, pressure? Instead of freaking out, like I may have done, the servant pulls the smart move and prays to God for a sign.
"Then he prayed, "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.  See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too'-let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master."" - Genesis 24:12-14.
That's one devoted servant! He wanted to be as sure as possible that he had found the right girl for Isaac, the perfect one that God wanted for Isaac.
No sooner does the servant do this then a girl named Rebekah comes to the well to draw some water. Scriptures tell us that she is the relative of Abraham, which is the first thing that Abraham required in his son's future wife. Check. The second thing we learn is that Rebekah is beautiful - a major plus, obviously, but not required. The third thing we read is that Rebekah is a virgin. Check. Just like that, three things that were important were settled - and Rebekah hadn't even talked to Abraham's servant yet.
Rebekah goes over to the well and draws water, when the servant rushes over. Seeing his chance to have his prayers answered, he asks for a drink of water. Rebekah gladly gives it to him, and - the servant's prayers becoming answered - waters his camels as well. She doesn't even know it, but Rebekah just passed the unwritten test. Check, and mate.
The servant had prayed for a sign - just a hint that this was "the one." Rebekah caught his eye by going the extra mile in common courtesy and offering him and his camels a drink. She was exactly what he was hoping to see - a selfless, caring woman. Rebekah had the inner beauty that radiated from her selfless nature and her purity as a virgin. She was a complete beauty, inside and out - lucky Isaac! They were introduced and immediately married. Rebekah's admirable, kind nature took her from watering camels at the well to becoming a part of a family chosen by God to bless the world (see Genesis 17:16.)
But the story doesn't end here. Later in life, Rebekah was put to the test again - and this time, she didn't do so well. She and her younger (and favorite) son, Jacob, double-teamed Isaac in his old age and conned him into giving him Isaac's blessing instead of the eldest son, Esau.
Our reputation lies in who people think we are when they watch us from afar. However, character is who we really are - especially when no one is looking. When I taught this lesson to my girls at camp this summer, I used the Pixar movie The Incredibles as an example. In the movie, the characters are superheroes that have to hide their true selves and act as if they were normal people, because the real "normal" people don't like the superheroes. Their reputation lies not on what people think of them as "normal" people, but rather the superhero identity that they have when no one knows who they really are. In the same way, character is who we really are - especially when no one is looking. Rebekah knew what it was like to win and lose in both arenas. She lived up to her selfless reputation one moment, unaware that anyone was even looking at her. But then she showed her entire family a completely different side of her character.
Like Rebekah, we live in a watching world. Everywhere we go, people are ready to take one look and judge us by what they see - or what they thing they see. People always look to see if we're real, and for signs of our true nature. Are you one way at church and another at school or work? Are you sweet to your friends' parents while mistreating your own? If others catch you in the right moment, at the right time, what are they most likely to see?
The NR challenge for this post is obvious - be a Rebekah in the early part of her life, not the end! Let your inner beauty shine and your reputation show who you really are, nothing fake. Don't be like Rebekah was at the end - completely fake and unreal.
Are you in?


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Put a smile on!

Young at Heart.
Hey everyone!
College is crazy, and due to recent weird/moronic happenings - I say nothing - I can't write as much as I wanted to. I have so many ideas, but the time and now, the ability to write it all, isn't there - at least for the time being. So, I've decided to make a "Put a Smile On" day, where you can just come and read/see something that will hopefully brighten your day a bit.
This is a photo I took on top of the ferris wheel when my family went to Idlewild on Sunday. I love it!
Hope it makes you smile!

Are you in?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Women of Faith - Hagar.

Hagar - Headed Nowhere Fast.
You know how someone will tell you a story, and it seems like that's all there is to it? Then another person who was there will come and give their side of the story, and it seems completely different. Sometimes we forget that there are two sides to a story - even something as famous and well-known as a Bible story. When I saw the highlight for Hagar in my Bible, I wasn't too thrilled. I considered skipping over this as a topic - I mean, it's just Hagar. There isn't anything too special about her - Sarah messed up and made her get pregnant with Abraham so that "Sarah" would have a son, and it turned out to be a big, bad idea, and Hagar was, in all sense, completely screwed over. Why would I want to write a post about her?
Then I read the highlight. I was blown away; I had never put myself into Hagar's shoes before. She deserved to be highlighted in my blog, I decided.
Here's why.
In Genesis 16, we first learn of Hagar. She's Sarah's - then Sarai - servant, and that's about all we know of her. God promised Abram/Abraham and Sarai/Sarah a son (read my Women of Faith highlight on Sarah to get the full story: Women of Faith - Sarah. ) and both of them were old, old, old. Sarah thought, there's not a chance that I'll have a son in my old age! So what does she do? She tells her husband to sleep with her servant, Hagar, so that they may have the son that God promised.
Now, think about it. You're working for an older couple, and God tells them that they're going to have a son. Time passes, and it gets more and more improbable. Then, all of a sudden, your mistress comes and says, "Hey girl, go make me a sandwich. By the way, you're off tonight because you have to sleep with my husband. I want a son, and I'll get one - through you."
Say what?
Poor Hagar didn't have a say AT ALL in this! She just did what she was ordered to do, and pretty soon she was pregnant with her son, who was named Ishmael.
God obviously didn't have a part in this, and He was ticked. That's not how He planned it, and not at all what he told them to do. Pretty soon, Abraham and Sarah realized this, and then Hagar was stuck in an already bad situation - about to be made a lot worse. She could have done many things - stayed there and dealt with it, for example. But what does she do? She runs off.
She encounters an angel in the desert, who she talks to for a while until being convinced to go back home. That angel had two very imporant questions for her: What was she running away from? Being mistreated. A pretty uncomfortable living situation. An inferiority complex - knowing she would always be second best to the "real" wife, and she was essentially a mistake. However, besides all the awful things that Hagar was running away from, God called her to also examine where she was going.
Like Hagar, we're never really "standing still" in life. We may try and avoid our problems by running away...but where are we going? To better choices? A promising future? Or are we like Hagar, sitting in the desert - going nowhere fast? She began to realize that maybe she didn't know how to take care of business on her own.
When we hit a crisis on our road, what's our first instinct? Run away and hide, if we can? Sometimes it seems like we're completely positive that we know exactly what we're doing - until God comes along and asks us to consider our ways.
Here's your NR challenge for this post. I challenge you to see what you're running from. School or college? Work? Family problems or arguements with friends? Realize that whatever it is, it won't work. Turn everything over to God, and see that only He can fix things. Wait too long, and you'll be stranded and things will look even worse. Always remember, though, that no matter what, God will be there. Life isn't fair sometimes - take the lesson from Hagar! Even so, though, God can take something rough and make it something absolutely amazing.
Are you in?