…on teaching and learning

Life is busy. I know I’m not alone in making that statement. Work, family, errands, life. Post-Covid I feel like I’m busier than I was pre-Covid. At times I almost miss the days of being home-bound. It made for a slower pace, and I don’t know that I appreciated the down time enough.

One thing I have learned is that being so busy, I have to be judicious with my time. I have fallen into a rythm that works for me, but there’s give and take. And one of the things I am not finding much time for these days is writing. It’s not that it’s not important to me, or that I don’t miss it, it’s more like making choices between good things and better things. For me, I’ve needed to spend a little more time with God first thing in the morning, and that ‘s generally when my writing time fits in.

Lately my God time is divided in parts – personal bible study, prayer, and reviewing materials for a few classes I’m co-leading at church. Robyn, our Discipleship leader, and I have been working through Ephesians with a group on Sunday mornings, and Tuesday nights we’ve been co-teaching a class called Freedom in Christ (check out Freedom in Christ Ministries for amazing resources). Both have been amazing to be a part of. The conversations in class have been fantastic.

Aside from those classes, I have been asked to teach a bonus section at our annual women’s retreat that our church hosts each year. 100+ women venture to Lake Junaluska, North Carolina for a weekend of community, worship, and filling of our cups. This year the theme is “Redeemed” and we’re teaching this theme through women in the Bible.

When I was asked to teach and given the topic of redemption, I started to pray on which woman I was to focus my teaching on. I immediately thought about Ruth because I love her story so much. I thought of a few others whose stories I am familiar with as well, but a name kept coming to me for no particular reason.

Rahab

I’m not sure why she came to mind. I was not super familiar with her story. I’ve read through her story as I was reading through the Old Testament and went through Joshua, but I can’t say I lingered on the details or retained much, other than some basic information. Rahab was a canaanite and she was a prostitute.

When I began to study Rahab, I have to admit, I was disappointed. There just isn’t a lot of information at first glance. Her story is mainly covered in Joshua 2. Joshua has now taken the lead of the Israelite people as Moses has died. They are at the precipice of of entering the promised land. Joshua decides to send two spies into the land and they go to Rahab’s house. Rahab understood who they were and what they were hoping to accomplish all because she had heard two stories from long ago — the parting of the red sea, and the destruction of two kings. Something about these stories stuck with her and though she didn’t know more than that, she believed the God who orchestrated these things must be THE God of heaven and earth. And even with her limited knowledge of who God is, she chose to risk everything to hide the spies asking only protection of her family and herself in return.

Talk about a mustard seed of faith.

As I studied, I began to marvel at her courage. At first it appears she’s entrusting her life and the lives of those she loves to two men, two spies, who she’s never met. Two spies who have to make it back out of the city of Jericho undetected — and what’s more the King knows of their existence and has sent his soldiers to find them.

As she asks these men for protection — to treat her and her family kindly as she has treated them — they agree she and her family would be protected as long as she gathers her entire family in her home, does not leave, and she hangs a scarlet cord from her window. No one is allowed to leave the walls of her home — for how long? She has no idea. But without question she follows the instructions.

And they wait…

I’m thinking about this waiting. I’m sure her home is not huge. I’m sure family means mother, father, sisters, brothers, their spouses, children, and some of those children are bound to be babies. That’s potentially a lot of people holed up in close quarters.

Rahab can’t even tell them why they have to stay there with assurity. All she knows is what she has heard this God has done in the past to protect and carry His people and that she believes He will protect them, too, if they just follow the instructions that had been given to her.

She can’t tell them exactly what is going to happen. She can’t tell them when. And she can’t tell them what life will be like after. But she believes that it will be worth whatever sacrifice she needs to make.

And that I could connect with.

Before Rahab heard the stories of God’s saving grace, she was living her life. Canaanites were a pagan people, worshiping multiple “gods”, statutes, and idols. They were living life following whatever felt good or brought pleasure in the moment. Rahab herself was selling her body as a means of support, and I have to think she was well known throughout her land as the King sent his men to her house directly to inquire about where the spies were. So, she was well known. She had some level of status, I would imagine. She lived life thinking everything was going along swimingly, she may have even been happy in her life, appreciating all the things her profession had provided for her, a house, money, jewels, and the admiration of men.

And then she heard those stories and something in them touched her heart, her very spirit, and it began to change her.

Little by little I imagine she would catch herself thinking on the stories. Wondering how afraid the Israelites must have been as they were being tracked down and chased by Pharoh’s army. They must have thought Moses had lost his mind as they headed directly towards the edge of the Red Sea with no where left to turn. And then God performed a miracle by parting the Red Sea — just long enough for His people to safely make it to the other side and Pharoh’s army to begin to follow them through — and then, once the entirety of the army was within the walls of the water, God released His hold, drowning the lot of them.

What a powerful God, indeed. A God who made a promise to deliver His people. A God who keeps His promises.

Once upon a time, I was like Rahab. I was living life, thinking things were going along well. I even thought I knew God. But the God I had been introduced to through the Mormon religion was not the God of the Bible. Because I didn’t know any better, I followed the same rules and mores as everyone else around me. I thought life was fine. And then I stumbled upon the truth. I opened the Bible and began to read, and there I met God. The God of the Bible. And I heard the stories and they laid on my heart and changed everything.

The more I read and the more I pondered, the more I wanted what was promised in those pages. A relationship with a loving father. My eyes were opened during that time, and like Rahab, I could not go back to my old life. I didn’t know what was ahead of me, but I knew I couldn’t keep following the lies I had been living. So, I moved forward. I hung a scarlet cord out the window of my life and God carried me.

He showed me who I was to Him, through his word, through friends old and new, He walked me out of the lies and into the truth and called me His own. He adopted me into His family and I am forever changed.

I am so thankful every time I am put in a position to teach the Word. I have learned along the way that when this happens, it is not because I am such a gifted teacher, it is not because I am a bible scholar or so very knowledgable. It is likely because I have something to learn myself.

Before diving into Rahab’s story, I looked at my own story differently. I often focused on what was, on the before. Of course I was thankful for the friends and the leaders who helped me on my journey, but there were small parts of my heart that still clung to the hurt and the betrayal I felt before I was saved. Through Rahab’s story, I think I have found that last bit of healing I was needing. I’ve never looked at my story as a story of redemption. Perhaps because it doesn’t feel like a grand story to me. But then, I’m sure Rahab’s story didn’t feel all that grand to her. But it was a grand story; a grand story of what can happen with a little bit of faith and trust in God’s plan. Now I understand my story for what it is.

I am just like Rahab.

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