Off the Grid

Rebekah was an answer to Abraham’s servant’s prayer.  In Genesis chapter 24, she is described as beautiful, helpful, humble, obedient, and a comfort to Isaac after his mother’s death.

Sounds great!  Then as I read through the next two chapters, I found out that she was childless, then became pregnant with twins, and that there was going to be some tension between them from birth.  Rebekah’s boys grew up, and Isaac called for Esau to get his blessing.  All of the sudden in Genesis 27, Rebekah becomes deceitful, convincing Jacob to take advantage of his father’s illness and lie to him so that the prophecy concerning the younger child would come to pass.

{Insert Record Scratch}  What happened?  I read and re-read the previous three chapters and started getting REAL judgy.  What made Rebekah go “off the grid?”

I was pretty sure I could read between the lines, but instead of coming up with my own conclusion, I went to one of my favorite reference books, Matthew Henry‘s Commentary on the Whole Bible. There is a FREE {Online Version}, but I prefer a hard copy.  There’s just something about getting my hands on the pages and underlining with a pencil or highlighter.  It’s a huge, heavy book.

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Matthew Henry gave some wise insights about why Rebekah would have acted this way: (from Genesis 27:6-17)

Rebekah is here contriving to procure for Jacob the blessing which was designed for Esau; and here,I. The end was good, for she was directed in this intention by the oracle of God, by which she had been governed in dispensing her affections. God had said it should be so, that the elder should serve the younger; and therefore Rebekah resolves it shall be so, and cannot bear to see her husband designing to thwart the oracle of God. But,II. The means were bad, and no way justifiable. If it was not a wrong to Esau to deprive him of the blessing (he himself having forfeited it by selling the birthright), yet it was a wrong to Isaac, taking advantage of his infirmity, to impose upon him; it was a wrong to Jacob too, whom she taught to deceive, by putting a lie into his mouth, or at least by putting one into his right hand. It would likewise expose him to endless scruples about the blessing, if he should obtain it thus fraudulently, whether it would stand him or his in any stead, especially if his father should revoke it, upon the discovery of the cheat, and plead, as he might, that it was nulled by an error personae—a mistake of the person.

Translation:  Rebekah knew God’s promise about Jacob, but didn’t see things heading in the right direction.  She decided to take matters into her own hands and fulfill the promise in her way and time.

If I’m honest with myself, I’ve done this many times–in my marriage, my parenting, my finances, my relationships, my career, etc.  The Bible is filled with God’s promises.  I know the ending to my life’s story and it’s a bright future!  But sometimes, like Rebekah, I don’t see things happening fast enough or things don’t seem to be logically shaping up.  I disconnect from God’s Word, from faith, and take matters into my own hands with a brilliant solution I came up with ON MY OWN.  I have gone “off the grid.”

But Isaiah 55:8,9 says:

“My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the havens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Yes, Rebekah could’ve handled things very differently.  Again, from Matthew Henry:

If Rebekah, when she heard Isaac promise the blessing to Esau, had gone, at his return from hunting, to Isaac, and, with humility and seriousness, put him in remembrance of that which God had said concerning their sons,—if she further had shown him how Esau had forfeited the blessing both by selling his birthright and by marrying strange wives, it is probable that Isaac would have been prevailed upon knowingly and wittingly to confer the blessing upon Jacob, and needed not thus to have been cheated into it. This would have been honourable and laudable, and would have looked well in the history;

This is where humanity and faith comes into play.  It is where I come back and get plugged in.  I could kick myself, but here’s where I get very encouraged.  Here’s Matthew Henry’s conclusion:

but God left her to herself, to take this indirect course, that he might have the glory of bringing good out of evil, and of serving his own purposes by the sins and follies of men, and that we might have the satisfaction of knowing that, though there is so much wickedness and deceit in the world, God governs it according to his will, to his own praise.

Romans 8:28 says:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Ultimately, God is in control.  He will work his purpose through me one way or the other.

How do I stay “on the grid?”   The only thing I’ve seen work for me is when I’ve had a daily discipline of reading/speaking scripture AND capturing bad thoughts and replacing them, not with good thoughts, but spoken promises from Scripture. The other thing I have seen that helps is living life with people that also value “staying on the grid.” (I’ve always heard that I am a reflection of the 5 people I spend the most time with, that no association is neutral.  There is either a positive or negative effect from being around them.)

In any case, I have more in common with Rebekah then just our name.  We are human, we are women, we are mothers, we know God’s promises, and we both have had our struggles with going “off the grid.” Thank God that we can “get plugged in” at any moment and God can use us and any indirect paths we may have taken.

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You First

I love it when my marriage is smooth sailing, when Aron and I are clicking, when he’s picking up what I’m putting down and vice versa. It’s when he or I don’t have to ask. We just know the deal and get it done for each other.

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But there are times when I become selfish and things go the “I Always, You Never” or the “You Always, I Never” route. I can start seeing things through the “victim” lens and start playing the blame game. I sometimes wonder, “How can my marriage go from total bliss one day to stormy seas the next?”

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Here’s the thing: Self-counsel is dangerous. Thinking my way out of my own problems never works out well. So, I appreciate perspective. I {heart} broadening my horizon and seeing beyond my personal view. I have taken a shine to Karen Stubbs and her ministry, Birds on a Wire. I love her transparency and willingness to use her personal experiences to benefit women coming on behind her. This year, she has done a series on exchanging lies for the Truth. She stretched my perspective SO far on marriage, it hurt.

Here it is:

#1 My husband isn’t my Completer. He was never created to meet all of my needs. Talk about taking the pressure off! I’m not lowering my expectations of my marriage or Aron (because he truly is amazing), but remembering that he is human, that he AND I will make mistakes. God cannot make mistakes and He is in my corner.

Isaiah 54:5: “For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.

Do NOT miss this audio!
{Exchanges: Husbands}

#2 Marriage only works when partners are willing to be self-sacrificial (“die to self” in Christianese.) Karen points out that it’s easier to “die” when she sees her husband “dying” first. When those “victim” lenses go on, it becomes “You first, then I’ll follow.” She shares Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Even if I don’t feel like I have more to give, as a Christian, I have been given grace, or power, to go beyond my own strength as Christ works in me.

Do NOT miss this audio either!
{Exchanges: Quiet Time}

Even if I am the one to start the process of self-sacrifice, the desired result comes with a return to that connected partnership.

“…moving first may be risky, but it is very powerful. Rarely can you lose…When you touch your spouse’s deepest need, something good almost always happens.” (“Love and Respect” p. 75)

So, I’ve read a book and listened to some audios. Now what? How do I keep myself from doing what is so easy…becoming selfish? The most tangible way that I have ever heard of and used is writing down the promises I’ve read in Scripture on a 3×5, keeping them somewhere really handy, and then reading them aloud to myself over and over. (These ideas from scripture of relying on God, who is not visible, as my Completer and Need Meeter and then “dying to self”, completely unnatural, are hard to do.)

But faith, then actions, are easier to gain when I’ve heard my voice speak these verses over and over. Romans 10:17: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

You first.

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Adjustable Waistband Prayer

Yesterday, I was scrounging around the mall department stores, rushed and frustrated-not a good combo. I was a mom on a mission to find a pair of boys grey slacks for my slender son. The other two sizes I’d found for him were still too wide. I needed the right size pant with an adjustable waistband, and apparently those are few and far between in the color I needed. I only had an hour window before I had to pick up my Sweet Tart at preschool and I really wanted to avoid taking her to the mall at ALL costs. I was not finding what I needed and it felt like no one was working in the children’s departments in ANY of the five stores. The tension was mounting. I had thirty minutes. I decided to chance it and go to another store. I went back to their kids section and I was looking and looking and didn’t see what I needed. I was silently screaming, “Kohls, don’t you know that this wedding is in three days and I literally have no time after 12:45 to shop sans Sweet Tart?!?!”

I suddenly stopped moving right there in the middle of the boys clothing and said (out loud), “JESUS, I need you to help me find my son a pair of grey pants!” I’m not really sure how loud I was, but I do know that I turned around and saw them…grey boys slacks in the size I needed WITH an adjustable waistband. (I swear I heard angels singing be hallelujah chorus.) I paid for the pants, jetted out of there, and picked up my preschooler ON TIME.

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As I was driving to the preschool I had to seriously thank Jesus for caring for me so much. He tells me that he wants to provide ALL of my needs, even as something as seemingly insignificant as a pair of pants with an adjustable waistband.

It’s a promise:

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Matthew 6:2, 28-30 NLT)

I don’t see Jesus as a genie in a bottle, but I do believe what He says in his word. He tells me to ask for wisdom about anything with the faith that he will provide an answer:

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:5,6 NLT)

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Thank you, Jesus, for helping find gray boys slacks with an adjustable waistband!

911 Words

In the last 6 months, I’ve had to place a 911 call. Our water heater caught fire and I was home with our three kids. Thankfully it was only 6pm and two of the three kids were actually standing by the door…WITH SHOES ON. I got everyone outside and made the most nerve racking call of my life.

“911. What’s your emergency?”

When I told the operator the what and the where, there were four ladder trucks, two policeman, and one ambulance in front of our condo in under three minutes. The fire was out in under 10 minutes. {Unbelievably, the main cause of damage was smoke, and, in the end, most of our things were salvageable. The cleanup/remodeling process was amazing. I encourage everyone to get/check on your homeowners insurance.} All of the firemen, paramedics, police officers, not to mention our neighbors, were all incredible-I could type on and on and on. My main point is that I called, they answered, and they answered in amazing fashion.

The next call I made that night was to my parents. I told my dad what happened and, with zero hesitation, he told us to pack up a few things and come home. My mom helped me do about 4 loads of laundry that night, including the kids’ backpacks, to get that nasty smokey smell out of everything. They let me sit in their laundry room and sob while they read our kids a bedtime story. When all was said and done, with the crazy insurance process, Mom and Dad allowed us, ALL 5 of us and our dog, to live in their home for four weeks. It was over Thanksgiving and Christmas. They allowed the kids to help decorate their tree and Mom gave each of them their own ornament to look at.

Aron called on his family as well, and they hosted us over the Holidays for about 11 days. My siblings brought us food, kept us company, let us vent. My MOPs group, folks from our home church, and our parents’ friends brought us meals. In a way, all of these dear ones answered a 911 call and blessed us SO much. We were more than protected, clothed, and fed.

All of this makes me think of anther 911 call I can place.

One time, I asked one of my very best friends what she does when she’s afraid. She told me that as a child, her father taught her to read aloud Psalm 91, starting at verse 1…911.

Psalm 91:1-16 NIV

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord , “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord , “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.””

(Emphasis mine)

I take great comfort in knowing/reading these powerful promises. For me, some are easy and some are hard to grasp, but the hardest part is the faith to believe that God will do what He says he will do. But faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17) especially if it’s my own voice reading to myself. This sounded crazy to me at first, but it’s proved easier to have faith when I read the scripture out loud on a regular basis. It’s difficult to hand my insecurities over to someone I can’t see, but when I have, God has ALWAYS been faithful.

It’s amazing how well cared-for we were in our time of trial by our family, friends, and even people that we’d never met before. But, even better, God says in His word that He cares for me more than any of these. I love how The Message says it:

Matthew 7:7-11 MSG

“”Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?”

All Better

All clean and moved back in…new floors, paint, and ceilings.

I can call 911 anytime, no matter the WHAT or WHEN.

Faith is the deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.

– Oswald Chambers