Friday, January 20, 2012

Blog Update & Your Suggestions Needed

What does the above picture have to do with this post? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

News coming up, but first, I want to say a quick thanks to all who read The Sweet South Blog. Your encouragement to and patience for this novice writer is unspeakably appreciated. :) I have enjoyed our Fridays together going through the Women of the Bible and look forward to many more.

We've got a few changes coming up. Due to several sweetly urging readers, I've decided to devote more time to finishing my first manuscript, which is currently hovering in scenic nostalgia until I can put it into words. So, the Encouragement From Women of the Bible series will now be posted only once a month, the first Friday of each month. Next post will go up Friday, Feb. 3. With Valentine's Day coming up, our guest will be Gomer, Hosea's wife. What in the ever-loving-piece-of-heart-confetti does she have to do with St. Valy Day? Read the post and find out! :)

I've run out of your previous suggestions for guests to interview, so I need some feedback from you, dear reader. Below are a few Biblical women who are possible candidates for future posts. If you will let me know from whom you would like to hear, I'll make those priority. Feel free to suggest any women not mentioned.

Abigail - a wife of King David
Hannah - Samuel's Mother
Shunammite Woman - 2 Kings 4:8-44 (not to be confused with the Shulamite woman in Song.) 
Dinah - Judah's Daughter
Euodias & Syntyche
Jochebed - Moses' Mother
Miriam - Moses' Sister
Elisabeth - Mother of John the Baptist

Friday, January 6, 2012

Women of the Bible Encouragement Series: Rahab ~ Treasures Unseen

            As I sat next to Rahab and her laundry basket beside the river, I wondered if she ever met her daughter-in-law Ruth. They would probably have had a very special friendship. Rahab, being a gentile (a gentile harlot no less), navigated the deep, murky waters of censure long before Ruth. It’s no wonder Boaz’s heart was tender toward Ruth—his mother was also an outsider.

            Rahab plunged a tunic into the stream and rubbed it between her hands. The sloshing noise blended with squeals of children who played upriver. “My first impression of the spies? Well, I knew they were Israelites by their manner of speech, though they tried to hide it. I was an expert at discerning a man’s past and country of origin. The captain of the king’s guard would pay me to keep up with foreign news. Besides the tales I’d heard of their country and the works of their God, I knew they were a different breed of men when they wanted only a palet for the night and didn’t want to…” She looked up at me then back to the laundry. “To avail themselves of my services. I suppose it was part of their ploy, lodging with a harlot.
            “When their mission was discovered, the king sent to have them arrested, but I hid them among the heaps of flax lying on my roof and sent the soldiers on a futile chase toward the river. In return for hiding them, I begged the spies to spare my life when their armies came to destroy the city. It was a great, fearful risk--I would have died if the king found out my plot. But the stories about Israel's God root bound my heart until it produced something greater than fear. That something was faith. 
            "The spies said if I would bind a scarlet cord in my window to mark the house,  all who sought refuge there would be saved alive.”

            "Did you ever doubt that they would keep their word?” I asked.

            She stopped, then laughed, the soft, clean breeze catching tendrils of her dark hair and rippling the dripping tunic she clutched. “Don’t think it ever crossed my mind.” A surprised laugh puffed passed her lips. “After having thousands of broken, whispered promises, one would think I’d not have believed. But I did. That is a small miracle in itself.”

            “If you don’t want to revisit that time, it’s all right, but could you tell me… How did you get into the trade?”

            Rahab bit the inside of her cheek before answering. “After Father died. My mother tried to support the family, but there was never enough. I worried for my brothers and sisters.” She glanced up the stream a ways and lowered her voice. “I was offered an apprenticeship from one of the street women. I figured nothing could be harder than watching your brothers and sisters starve, so I agreed. At first she was kind, offering opium to dull any regrets and protecting me from clients who were known to be cruel. Trusting as I was, it was a long time before I realized she never intended to give me my share of the profit.
            “I came home to have my mother spit in my face. I worked the streets of the city until I could buy my own house. I kept abreast of my siblings’ care and bribed the merchants, to offer my mother better prices at the market. She would never have accepted the money I made. It broke my heart then, but with a son of my own, I see now her reasons. Boaz, don’t you dare.”

            I looked up. What was she talking about? Then I saw him—a boy about twelve making off with the basket. He jerked around, shock on his round face. Then he laughed and came to hug her before running off.

            “He gets it from his father--sneaking like a panther.” Rahab smiled and shook her head. “It’s so hard, parenting. Sometimes I don’t know whether to reprimand him or say I’m proud of his skill.”

            I couldn’t help but laugh with her before she turned serious. 

            “I think that boy has a great destiny lying before him. But I suppose every mother feels the same. If he does make something special, it will not be because of me, but his father.” She motioned to the field where a big man swung a sickle with surprising quickness and grace.

            “It sounds so romantic--falling in love with your rescuer. Did you know you would love him the first time you saw him?”

            "Oh, I could tell he noticed me the first time we were in the room together, but my jaded heart mistook it for lust and dismissed him. To me, he was only my way of escaping the judgment of God on the city Jericho. It took me four years to recognize the treasure hidden in Salmon. He has never had overmuch to say, being a man of action—I suppose that’s why Joshua chose him as one of the spies to scout out the city of Jericho—but his heart is deep and tender. Every day of those four years he saw to my needs, built me a tent, brought firewood... Sometimes he would bring venison or fur blankets in winter. He would sit by my fire, never saying a word.
            “At first I supposed he pitied me, since I was lonely and the daughters of the village did not want to be sullied with my presence. I was grateful. Still, in my heart, I kept a distance. Finally, one day, he spoke to me. For so many years, hate and fear of men had been building inside, but with quiet patience Salmon taught me not only his love, but more about God’s as well."

            “Have the women come to fellowship with you more now?” I asked.

            “Mmm. Some. Though I think I will never be truly accepted.  Maybe it is punishment for my foolish past. I am content to keep to myself though. My mother once said that nothing good will come from me. I was tainted in her sight. Perhaps she was right. I do not deserve to be blessed as I am. To have a husband who loves me and a fine, healthy son. God has allowed me to have what I never thought would be mine again. A home. A family. I could not ask for more than this.”

            Even as her voice faded, I sensed a restlessness in her. A deep longing to be more—to touch more, for this God who had given her freedom from herself. If only she knew…

            Rahab became great-great-grandmother to King David from whose line descends 'The Son of David', Jesus. She is mentioned in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1:5.

            Don't take my word for it, though. My story will most likely contain mistakes. God's won't. Read the real story of Rahab and the spies in Joshua chapters 2-6. :)

            Down through the ages, Rahab's name has often been used interchangeably with harlotry or prostitution. Even in the Bible, she is most known for being 'Rahab, the harlot'. To be honest, I don't think Rahab ever really lived down her past. The Bible says in Proverbs, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches...," but I wonder, in Rahab's case, if God used the constant reminder of her 'bad name' and the condemnation of who she once was to shew the world the power of His mercy in redemption. As mentioned before, she is on Biblical record as one of Jesus' ancestors and also holds the honor of being mentioned by name in Hebrews 11's 'Hall of Faith'. The only other woman who shares that privilege is Sarah, Abraham's wife, but then, that's another post altogether.

            All of this to say, your potential isn’t based on your own worthiness before God, but your willingness to be used by God. Remember the saying, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called”?

     1 Cor 1:26-29 “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
     But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
     And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
     That no flesh should glory in his presence.”

     2 Cor. 4:7 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

     Isaiah 45:3 "And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel."