Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nothing Can Compete with the One Who Can Complete...

Recently, it dawned on me that yesterday is today tomorrow. As I write about today's scripture, I can only hope that on one of the tomorrow's in the future, you will take to heart the priceless nuggets found in these chapters.

Genesis 25 through 29 includes the accounts of Rebekah's delivery of twin sons (Jacob and Esau); Jacob's betrayal of Isaac (he stole his brother Esau's blessing after already having stolen his birthright); and his flight from Canaan to escape his brother's threat of retaliation in the form of murder. Genesis, which means beginnings or origins, doesn't conceal the dirty deeds of some of history's early characters, nor are words minced with regard to the shenanigans they engaged in.

In order to escape his brother's murderous plans (and follow his parent's instructions not to marry a Canaanite woman) Jacob went to Paddan-Aram, to his Uncle Laban's house. There, he met the lovely young Rachel. The Bible explains that she was physically beautiful, but that she had an older sister Leah who wasn't so pretty.

Jacob agreed to work for Laban for seven years in order to win Rachel's hand in marriage, but Laban tricked Jacob on the wedding night, giving him Leah instead of Rachel. This story has always disturbed me in a, "this is really heartbreaking," sort of way--but not for Jacob, for Leah. You'd think the trickster Jacob who'd done something equally egregious to his own twin brother would have considered this his comeuppance so to speak. Instead, according to the scripture, he raged at Laban and asked why he'd tricked him.

He agreed to work seven more years for Rachel and was married to both women. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to four sons, each of whom were named according to the way she was feeling at the time of their births.

The first she named Reuben, signifying that The Lord had seen her misery and now her husband would love her. The second, Simeon, indicating that The Lord knew she was unloved and gave her another son. Her third son was named Levi, meaning that surely this time her husband would feel affection for her since she'd given him three sons. Finally, when her fourth son was born, she named him Judah, saying, "Now, I will praise The Lord."

There is nothing to indicate that Jacob was ever cruel to Leah, it was just obvious that he didn't passionately love her the same way he loved Rachel. And that hurt.

Leah hoped that bearing his children would compensate for whatever she lacked, but it didn't--and she finally accepted her helplessness to change that as indicated by the fourth son's name. Leah eventually redirected her focus from the desire to be loved by Jacob to her contentment with being loved by God.

When Leslie and David were teenagers and we talked about marriage, I gave them this advice: Don't marry someone you can live with, marry someone you can't live without. My hope for them was that they would have the sort of passionate connection with the person they married that Jacob had with Rachel (and vice versa).

I also shared with them that I believe it's best not to marry at all until they were where Leah was after her fourth child's arrival. So where was that? The "complete" place. That beautiful place where God is comforter, lover, provider, and source. Two halves don't make a whole--not in love and marriage at least. If you marry with the hope that your mate will make you whole, you are in for tremendous disappointment. Only God can do that. In him, there is fulfillment that another human cannot offer. Marriage is beautiful--but a person will not "complete" you. God alone does that. He did it for Leah, and he does it for each of us who will enter into a love relationship with him. Fall in love FIRST with the perfect lover. No love can compete with the one that will complete.

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