Sunday, February 14, 2010


Our children learned at an early age that they were free to choose in some situations, but in other circumstances, Roy and I made the final decision. Trina, our strong-willed firstborn, tested this theory before she could speak. Through grunts and stomps and red-faced tantrums, we discovered our precious cherub didn‟t necessarily appreciate our attempts to guide her hands away from poisonous plants and grandma's fine china. And after I was christened repeatedly with strained spinach, I learned children choose when they swallow and when they don‟t. Then came the curly, blonde-haired second daughter, Emily – or “The Little General” as she became known. Her demands were soothed by fluttering blue eyes and rosy-red cheeks that even her big sister couldn't resist. But the line had to be drawn, so when the girls were five and three, Daddy sat them down for a serious talk. “You two get to make some decisions – like how to dress your dolls and what toys to play with. But Mommy and I get to make other decisions – like what you eat and when you go to bed.” Well, this news wasn‟t at all popular. “I want to decide what I eat!” The girls‟ shrill whines created a stereo effect that could almost split a crystal goblet. And my husband – the great orator – uttered some of his most famous words. “Well, you're not the boss of that decision.” Wow. I can't recount the number of times our daughters have heard that phrase during their lives. In fact, they're twenty-four and twenty-two now, living on their own, and we still say it when they come home for Christmas. It's just a one-size-fits-all phrase that, quite frankly, they hate as much now as they did when they were five and three. I know I hate that phrase, when my Heavenly Father says it to me…

Gen. 24:28-33 – “The girl [Rebekah] ran and told her mother's household about these things. Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister's arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. 'Come, you who are blessed by the LORD,' he said. 'Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.' So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. Then food was set before him, but he said, 'I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.' 'Then tell us,' Laban said.”

  • Most of those reading this devotional are above the age of “obeying your parents,” and we don't live in a culture of submission like Rebekah's. Still, we are all under the authority of someone or something that usurps our control at some level. A boss, a spouse, a government, a circumstance – and if nothing else, the simple aging of our bodies goes on without our consent or approval. We, like Rebekah, must wait and watch as a metaphorical brother, father or mother listen to another decide our fate. The question becomes, how does Rebekah react when she's not the boss of that decision? More importantly – how do you and I react, when we have no control?
Gen. 24:34-41 – “So he said, 'I am Abraham's servant. The LORD has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, menservants and maidservants, and camels and donkeys. My master's wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. And my master made me swear an oath, and said, “You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, but go to my father's family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.” Then I asked my master, “What if the woman will not come back with me?” He replied, “The LORD, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father's family. Then, when you go to my clan, you will be released from my oath even if they refuse to give her to you--you will be released from my oath.”'”
  • If Rebekah had hoped to stay in Aram with her family – she heard with her own ears – her family could have refused the servant's proposal and kept her. If her family wanted her more than the gold, grain and gifts dripping off the camels. Or...she could consider the honor and prestige such a marriage would bring to her family's household. Rebekah could read many things into her family's decision – good or bad. She couldn't choose her fate, but she could choose to dwell on the positive or negative aspects of it.
Gen. 24:42-51 – “'When I came to the spring today, I said, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. See, I am standing beside this spring; if a maiden comes out to draw water and I say to her, 'Please let me drink a little water from your jar,' and if she says to me, 'Drink, and I'll draw water for your camels too,' let her be the one the LORD has chosen for my master's son.” 'Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 'She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, “Drink, and I'll water your camels too.” So I drank, and she watered the camels also. 'I asked her, “Whose daughter are you?” 'She said, “The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milcah bore to him.” 'Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, and I bowed down and worshiped the LORD. I praised the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master's brother for his son. Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn." Laban and Bethuel answered, 'This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has directed.'” (emphasis added)
  • Rebekah's father has been absent throughout. He finally shows up, proclaims God made the decision, so he has no responsibility for the outcome...authority without blow-back if something goes wrong. "God told me to do it, so blame Him!" This is a tough one to guard against bitterness. Still, we must. Because…we're simply not the boss of that decision. Leave it to God and others to mete out justice.
Gen. 24:52-54 – “When Abraham's servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the LORD. Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there. When they got up the next morning, he said, 'Send me on my way to my master.'” (emphasis added)
  • Notice that Abraham's servant did not give gifts to Rebekah's father. A seemingly unusual “oversight” for the culture, I would think…
Gen. 24:55-58 – “But her brother and her mother replied, 'Let the girl remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.' But he said to them, 'Do not detain me, now that the LORD has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.' Then they said, 'Let's call the girl and ask her about it.' So they called Rebekah and asked her, 'Will you go with this man?' 'I will go,' she said.”
  • Finally! Something Rebekah gets to decide! She had waited patiently, silently, submissively; and when her time came, she was ready to move in God's direction.
Lord, may it be so with me. Give me the grace to wait for Your justice and show humility in the presence of those in authority over me.

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