Thursday, April 22, 2010

Such a Thing Ought Not be Done

Gen. 34

Jacob's family has moved to their new land.  This is the place they will live, the land God has given to them to grow and thrive safe from threat of Esau. 

Dinah, Jacob's daughter, goes to town to visit with other women.  The prince of the area sees her, rapes her, and then wants to make her his wife.  I'm not sure if Jacob is actually considering the marriage, but Dinah's brother's are furious and, in the end, what Jacob was thinking doesn't matter.

If we set aside, for a moment, that Dinah was raped, here is an interesting and very contemporary situation.  Should a man who sees a beautiful woman be able to have sex with her, then declare his love, and then marry her?  In today's world, although rape is still considered immoral (as it should be), the order of things has become: date a few times; have sex to judge compatibility; move in together to further judge compatibility; decide you love each other; get married.

Like you, I have been bombarded by the Tiger and Elin Woods saga and the Sandra Bullock and Jesse James saga.  Part of me feels tremendous sympathy for these wronged wives, the other part of me wants to bop them over the head and say, "Were you sleeping with him before you got married?  Had either of you ever denied yourself sexual fulfillment with other partners before you met?  What made you think a ring would change any of that?"  We have done a horrendous disservice to our children and nation by insisting kids are going to have sex anyway, we might as well teach them how to do it safely.  The idea of exercising self control has completely flown out the window.  Now wonder Tiger and Jesse felt free to have sex with whoever was available while separated from their wives.

Back to our story.

Shechem, who has "fallen passionately in love" with Dinah (and we aren't sure from the text if this is before or after he raped her) wants to marry her.  He's willing to do anything...absolutely anything to make her his wife.  Dinah's brother's trick him into consenting to be circumcised.  I find that hilariously ironic.  If this guy can't keep himself inside his own loin cloth, take it out and they will whack on it.  (You didn't know Lorena Bobbet was Biblical, did you?)  Not only Shechem, but the entire area is to be circumcised, and after every man is laid low from the pain (because, outside of the normal pain such a procedure would cause, I somehow think Jacob's sons were none too gentle while performing the operations) they come in and slaughter them.

To be honest, I am torn here.  Dinah has been raped.  Nothing is going to change that now.  Her brother's take revenge without Jacob's consent.  Jacob seems more ticked off about the boys ruining his peaceful future than Dinah's rape, the boys seem like they are spoiling for a fight with anyone and just wanted a good excuse to go on a rampage, and Shechem (the rapist) is the only one of this whole motley crew who seems to have Dinah's future in mind. 

I can't help but wonder what Dinah wanted.  No one asked; no one cared.  She is simply damaged goods now, and she will never marry or have a future as a mother because of something she could not control.  As a woman, I am less concerned than I probably should be with the theological meaning behind this passage.  I am feeling for this young girl whose life has been ruined beyond repair.  If nothing else, this passage demonstrates in violent clarity the devestating effects rape exacts.  Imagine the scene, blood and torn flesh littering the countryside.  It is visual into Dinah's soul.  How do you best heal such a thing?  Would Dinah have fared better in the end by marrying Shechem?  Please, please understand me. I am not condoing rape here...not by a LONG shot. I am simply wondering what, if given the choice, Dinah wanted: revenge or a chance to be a wife.

In the end, the only thing I come away with from this passage is rape is a thing which ought not be done.

Until next time,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Acts of God

It's harder to blog from the road!

I've been spending time with my family for the past week and a half and will be on the road for another 10 days, so the blogging will be spotty.  At least I'm not having to deal with travel disruptions due to the ash cloud and airplane travel grounded by this "act of God."  It has, however, made me think about how we get into routines, make "firm" plans, and generally order our lives with very little thought given to extraordinary possibilities.  Very rarely do we plan for "acts of God" which is actually quite sad.

In addition to pondering my "normal routine," I've thought about how each choice I make is a part of me for the rest of my life.  Choices, routines, and "acts of God" don't always work hand in hand...which is also quite sad.

Rambling here, I know.  But perhaps God wants some of my choices to become a routine and all of it to be colored by concious effort to make everything I do an "act of God" meaning something of which He would approve.

Until next time,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Accountability Update

I really, really would rather keep things to myself sometimes.  Because the truth is I'm struggling these past few weeks with keeping up even one of my four goals.  I'm making excuses, starting to eat things I shouldn't, and generally not devoting myself to being serious about any of this.

And now I get to tell you all about what a miserable failure I am.  Such a joy!

I went back and read all my entries from the time this blog started and was convicted by my own words - which was the point of starting this blog in the first place.  In some ways it stinks, because no one likes being convicted, but in other ways it's quite good, because who can I blame but myself.

I don't really know how to "start over" rather than to brush off the dust from where I've fallen and continue to walk forward one step at a time.  I can't even think about one full day at a time...just one more step...the next right thing.

Until next time,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Travel in April

If you want to see this country at it's picture perfect best, travel in April.  The mountains are still snow-capped, the hills are green, the valleys are bursting with pride, the rivers are rushing crisply, and the sun shines benevolently on all of it. 

I am on the road visiting family and friends and drove from Colorado through Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Oregon before arriving in Washington.  I wish I had thought to stop and take pictures of some scenery along the way to show you the delights I was privileged to view.  Maybe on the way back.

Truly, the splendor of God's creative handiwork should convince us He does all things WELL!!

Along with the scenic delights, what a pleasure to be reunited with friends who are close enough to be family and family I truly enjoy.  I am blessed beyond words to be loved by some amazing people.

I hope you take time today to revel in God's provision for the nourishment of your soul through the beauty of nature and love of family and friends He has provided.

Until next time,

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reconciliation and Distrust

Gen. 33

Jacob and Esau are finally reunited, but I'm not convinced it was the "forgive and forget" moment my Biblical commentary seems to think it is. 

Esau is coming with 400 men, Jacob divides his household into three parts, the maidservants and their children first, Leah and her children second, with Rachel and Joseph bringing up the rear.  (In another show of his favoritism, Jacob has ensured that, if Esau attacks, Rachel and Joseph have the best chance of fleeing to safety.)

When Esau and Jacob finally meet, there is a lot of embracing and weeping.  So far so good.  Then there's the gifts which Esau refuses but Jacob insists saying God has blessed him abundandly.  Esau offers to have his men ride with Jacob as protection, an offer Jacob refuses saying he has plenty of men.  Esau wants to ride together, but Jacob makes a point about needing to travel slowly with newborn animals and children.  Finally, Esau departs for Seir urging Jacob to follow, but Jacob goes to Succoth before continuing to Shechem instead.  The two places are many miles apart with the Jordan river in between.

To me, this looks more like two male bulls circling each other in preparation for a fight.  They are sizing each other up and measuring their chances for victory.  Jacob's insistence that Esau take the gifts is a show of wealth.  The refusal of Esau's protection is a show of strength.  And his need to travel at the pace he knows his impatient brother would not want to keep is probably a deceipt to keep the two parties separate and allow Jacob to go a different direction. 

In other words, Jacob may believe Esau has forgiven him for stealing his birthright and blessing,  and Jacob has forgiven Esau for intending to murder him,  but Jacob is certainly not going to put his household in Esau's power.  Forgive,, no.

There is much forgiveness IS, but today I want to focus on one thing it is NOT.  Forgiveness is not putting ourselves in a position where another person can harm us again.  A wife who has been beaten by her husband does not stay in the home to show her forgiveness.  A husband who's best friend slept with his wife doesn't need to play golf or confide in that friend ever again.  A rape victim never needs to be alone in a room with her attacker.  And children should never have to be subject to a parent who has abused them.  Forgiveness means we will not hold the wrong done to us inside where it festers and poisons us.  We forgive as Christ has forgiven us by recognizing our own sins have made us death row convicts, and Jesus died in our place.  But it doesn't mean we "forget" by giving someone our trust again.  It's like the famous Ronald Reagan quote when discussing nuclear disarmament with the Soviets:  "Trust but verify."

Forgive, yes.  But trust is only built when the offending party proves, over time, the change neccessary to earn it back.  In the meantime, you go to Shechem and let your Esau go to Seir with your forgiveness and best wishes.

Until next time,

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wedding Memories

Our beautiful daughter got married last July and those pictures are slowly being scrapbooked.  Here's a layout I did showcasing the invitations I made.  The rose patterned paper and square brads I purchased from Joann Fabrics, the stamps are CTMH "Playful Flourishes" and the ribbon is also from CTMH.

The "L&D" logo was designed using my Cricut with the Base Camp and Graphically Speaking cartridges combined and "welded" using my Jukebox and Cricut Design Studio software.  I would not know how to work my Cricut machine without the design studio!!

Until next time,

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Through the Valley

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."

Those words from Psalm 23 are some of the most familiar in the whole Bible. But how many of us realize we are walking in that valley every single day? Police officers, firemen, soldiers, CIA and FBI agents work jobs where they walk out the front door every day knowing they may not come home. Pilots, truck drivers, oil riggers, fishermen and others in hazardous jobs do, too. Those of you who have “safe” jobs don’t always think of yourself as “in the valley” every day, but how many of those who worked at the Murray Federal Building in Oklahoma City or the Twin Towers in New York worked safe jobs? How many people are killed yearly commuting to or from their safe jobs? How many die of heart attacks from job related stress? Now add everyone who is at risk for death through every possible circumstance.

Do you see what I mean? We all walk through the valley daily.

On Friday, I encouraged you to put yourself in the place of Jesus’ disciples and forget you knew about the resurrection. Imagine you live in Jesus’ time where false Messiah’s have been popping up for years and will for several more. You’ve seen his miracles, though, and are convinced he’s THE ONE. Then, the Roman Empire, the most powerful government on the face of the earth, the one you daily expect him to overthrow, kills him. He has raised Lazarus from the dead but he cannot save himself from the power of the empire. Not even when Jesus is told to save himself does he do it.

We know Jesus would not save himself, but his disciples did not. Now he’s dead, they think he is just like the other fake Messiah’s who’ve come and gone, only they were stupid enough to get sucked in this time. Jesus was helpless against the power of death and now they are going to be hunted down and killed for idiotically following him. They were very literally walking through the valley of death. Just like us.

Then came the morning! Up from the grave He arose in a mighty triumph o’re His foes. And because He lives, I can face tomorrow; because He lives all fear is gone. Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise!

These lines from some of our great hymns can only begin to tell the wonder of Christ’s victory over death. There are not words enough to write what Easter means for the follower of Christ. Our entire faith hinges on this one morning, this Resurrection Sunday. Victory. Over. Death. All types of death: emotional, spiritual and physical. Jesus’ sacrifice secured our ability to conquer them all.

We fear no evil for Jesus is with us. The Emmanuel (God with us) of Christmas has finished his work and become our Redeemer of Easter.

Halleluiah, Christ arose!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday!

Have you ever seen "Jesus Christ Superstar"? Did your version include the resurrection?

When I was in high school, a friend from church played Jesus in his school's production. Several of us from our youth group went to see it, and it was quite a powerful production. In order to not offend, however, the resurrection scene was cut. The death of my friend affected me deeply and, for days following the production, my spirits were depressed.

Imagine how much more affected Jesus' disciples were at his crucifixion. Their eyes had not been opened yet; they did not understand he was going to rise again in only three days time. Instead, they watched their friend and rabbi, the one they believed to be the Messiah come to save the Jewish people from Roman oppression, as he was tortured to death by those same Romans. They had given all, their professions, their families, everything in order to follow him around for three years. And he was dead. Buried. Gone.

For these next few days, forget you know the end of the story. Put yourself in the place of the disciples and feel, really feel, their agony and loss. The power of the resurrection is only understood through devastating grief.

Until Sunday,