Monday, June 28, 2010


What is the purpose of a wedding? No – seriously. I'm actually contemplating the underlying motivation of days, weeks, even months of labor, sweat and stress to stand before a room (or in our daughter's case – a lawn) full of people and declare your vows of love and faithfulness. Why do we do that? As mother-of-the-bride, I was off-the-hook when it came to planning the wedding because we live 2,200 miles away. Our daughter and her fiancé planned everything beautifully; however, more than once in the final week leading up to that big day they threatened to elope! Emily's grandparent's (the parents of our hearts) hosted the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, the ceremony and reception at their beautiful lakefront home. This meant months of preparation for them, and the days leading up to the BIG DAY were full of little chores to make the place shine like a new penny. Now, including our daughter's dog, there were three precious canines on the property during wedding preparations. Grandpa was the official pooper scooper – not glamorous, but essential. Grandma pruned the flower beds after the wind storms and kept the indoor clutter of 11 guests to a minimum. Moms, dads, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and friends pitched in on the day of the wedding to help set up and dry off chairs when the heavens dumped buckets of rain just hours before the ceremony began. And when the cake lady arrived an hour late with the center tier of cake crumbled into bite-sized pieces, we were all thinking eloping might have been a better choice. So, again I ask. What is the purpose of a wedding? I believe the same answer applies to all of life's questions. It's about God. What is HE doing in the midst of it? Leah seemed to understand that principle at first, but then…

Gen. 29:31-35 – “When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, 'It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.' She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, 'Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.' So she named him Simeon. Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, 'Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.' So he was named Levi. She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, 'This time I will praise the LORD .' So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children” (emphasis added).
  • When the Lord saw that Leah was barren, He was quick to intervene on her behalf and comfort her with children – showing His love and favor in that tangible way. However, Leah was so focused on gaining her husband's love that she found it difficult to be thankful for God's love. Finally, after the birth of her fourth son, Leah's eyes shifted to the eternal Prize, and she awarded Judah the name that reflects a level of contentment in her relationship with GOD.
Gen. 30:1-8 – “When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, 'Give me children, or I'll die!' Jacob became angry with her and said, 'Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?' Then she said, 'Here is Bilhah, my maidservant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and that through her I too can build a family.' So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, and she became pregnant and bore him a son. Then Rachel said, 'God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.' Because of this she named him Dan. Rachel's servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, 'I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.' So she named him Naphtali.” (emphasis added)
  • Jealousy is a sure sign that our eyes have wandered to someone else's prize. And if you'll notice, our eyes work in tandem – where one eye goes, both go. So, if we're gazing longingly at someone else's prize, we can't possibly be gazing longingly at Jesus. Notice that Rachel at least made some mention of God when naming her first son through Bilhah, but by the second son, all pretense of holiness was gone. By then, she acknowledged it as a competition, and her eyes were firmly fixed on the wrong finish line.
Gen. 30:9-13 – “When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her maidservant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. Then Leah said, 'What good fortune!' So she named him Gad. Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. Then Leah said, 'How happy I am! The women will call me happy.' So she named him Asher.” (emphasis added)
  • What happened to Leah's contentment in the One, True God? And how can she accredit her maidservant's children to mere FORTUNE? And the second son simply makes her “happy” but doesn't cause her to PRAISE the Giver of Life. My guess is that Leah has become angry with God for allowing her sister Rachel to have children. It was the only advantage she'd had over her, and now she was unloved and unable to bear children of her own. Self-pity has become her focus. Happiness her goal. The first is destructive. The second fickle.
Gen. 30:14-16 – “During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, 'Please give me some of your son's mandrakes.' But she said to her, 'Wasn't it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son's mandrakes too?' 'Very well,' Rachel said, 'he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son's mandrakes.' So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. 'You must sleep with me,' she said. 'I have hired you with my son's mandrakes.' So he slept with her that night.”
  • If Leah's son, Reuben, knew his mother would appreciate the fabled aphrodisiac flowers, the rivalry between Jacob's wives had evidently permeated the whole household. As parents (adults), we train our children's eyes on the prizes we value most – intentionally or unintentionally. Kids watch and learn.
Gen. 30:17-24 – “God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. Then Leah said, 'God has rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband.' So she named him Issachar. Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. Then Leah said, 'God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.' So she named him Zebulun. Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah. Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, 'God has taken away my disgrace.' She named him Joseph, and said, 'May the LORD add to me another son.'” (emphasis added)
  • Is there any better example of God's amazing grace in the Old Testament? Here are two women acting like spoiled children, and yet God listens to their prayers and answers according to their deepest desires. While these two women were at each other's throats and demonstrating destruction to their children, God intervened. He loved. He blessed…in spite of them. And in the end, they praised Him for it.
Lord, I can look at these two women and say, “Why won't You answer MY prayers if you answered THEIRS?” But the greater question is – Why do You answer the prayers of any of Your silly, sinful children? If You waited until I was perfect before blessing me, I would be the lowliest of human beings! Thank You for Your infinite wisdom and grace that answers when I least deserve it. Teach me to focus more on my eternal Prize and less on earthly distractions. I want to look beyond the proverbial wedding to the Beloved that binds the hearts.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

This is a great picture of Emily & her man! What a blessing of how it all went, in spite of the emergencies. I love the way you relate the Scriptures to our lives.