Saturday, January 17, 2009

Once Upon a Time There Lived...

Who doesn't delight in a great love story? Romeo and Juliet, Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, Maria and Colonel Von Trapp, Isaac and Rebekah...
What? You wouldn't have included Isaac and Rebekah among the list of lovers whose stories captivate and inspire?

In today's scripture (Genesis 22-24) there is the account of Abraham's test of faith by God during which God instructs him to sacrifice his promised son Isaac on an altar (a rich reminder of God's faithful provision); Sarah's death and burial; and finally, the selection of Isaac's wife.

According to the verses in chapter 24, Abraham instructed that Isaac's wife not be chosen from among the local Canaanite women. Instead, she should be from his homeland. The details he provided were very specific, and the story of how Rebekah became Isaac's wife is not just touching, it is remarkable in the sense that only God's intervention and direct answer to prayer could have orchestrated their love symphony.

Rather than retelling something that you really need to read for yourself, I prefer to mention the things about this story that I find intriguing.

First, Abraham wanted his son's wife to be someone who shared the same faith as his family. He specifically rejected the local women. The Canaanite's were different--they didn't worship God as Abraham and his family did--and that was the first and most important reason not to select a wife from the community. To this day, marrying someone outside your faith can pose heart- wrenching challenges--particularly when children come along.

Second, Abraham specified that once a suitable mate was found, she must move to Canaan rather than Isaac moving to her hometown. God had instructed Abraham to settle in Canaan and had promised that this land would belong to his ancestors. As a result, it was out of the question for Isaac to relocate. It's possible that in addition to Abraham's commitment to being obedient to God, this stipulation also indicates a character quality that Isaac's wife would possess--she would be a girl who was ready to leave and cleave. As I read the account of Rebekah's response when asked by her family if she wanted to go, my admiration for her multiplies. She had never even seen the man who would be her husband, yet she trusted that this was God's plan and she submitted to it willingly.

Finally, there can be no doubt that prayer played a major role in this love drama. Abraham's servant expressed his heart to God regarding how he might know which young woman was to be Isaac's wife and God opened the heavenly hatch and rained down an undeniably clear confirmation when Rebekah showed up.

Wow. Did you know that you don't have to play a guessing game with God if your heart is right and your prayer is pure? I can tell you this, I will be praying for you all, just as I prayed for my own children, that God will protect each of you from marrying anyone other than the person he deems best for you. And as you wait to find Mr. or Miss Right, don't allow impatience, passion, or physical attraction to play a role in the process unless and until you have first received the clear and definite green light from God.

After George won my heart so many years ago, I prayed a very difficult prayer. I asked The Lord to show me if there was any reason that we weren't supposed to be together. I prayed that God would allow our relationship to end unless we would have his blessing. All these years later, I have no regrets for having made that request. I think my willingness to walk away from something so important to me if God wasn't in it has made our years together all the more precious.

For this and so many other reasons, I believe in the power of prayer. I pray that you will have the faith to know that if it is God's will for you to marry, he will never ask you to make any compromise or settle for someone who doesn't love and cherish you according to Biblical prescription.

My precious ones, God can and will lead you--and at just the right time, in just the right way--you will meet the person he has for you. Fairy tale endings are not just for the movies and novels. Isaac and Rebekah were real people, and God wrote their love story. Please... let Him write yours, too.

Genesis 24: 67 And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.NLT

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