Recently I had the honor of leading our “Spirit Led” bible study group in prayer. Before I gave the prayer, I wanted to preface it with a story.
When I was originally asked to lead the prayer I was told that the topic for that week was “Trusting God.” I knew that particular subject was more than a coincidence. The Lord knew exactly where I would be with my life – that very week, and the news we would have. And He gave me the beautiful gift of publicly proclaiming my faith again.
Trust. It is often so closely connected to hope; yet misdirected hope can lead us to discouragement and despair. Often we place our trust in man – in the things or way of life that this world has embraced. These “things” are the opposite of the one and only true freedom that comes from trusting the Lord.
It is a simple act – giving it all over to Him in trust. And in return we are given the gift of freedom. Real freedom. What an amazing God we serve!
The bible features some unlikely people who put their trust in Him. One of my favorite stories centers around one of the “bad girls” of the bible. She was a prostitute named Rahab, who is found in the second chapter of Joshua. I had read her story many times before. Even Angie reminded me of this beautiful story of trust, but it just didn’t resonate. Yet.
I have no idea what caused me to go back and read her post (OK, maybe, I do.) This time it resonated with me. Big time.
A little background…Moses has died without ever entering the Promised Land, and his successor is the mighty warrior Joshua. Joshua is planning to invade Canaan, and in order to scope out the land, he sends in two spies. We don’t know their names, but we do know that they were told to focus on Jericho.
While they were there, the spies stayed at the home of a prostitute named Rahab. It has been speculated that they chose this location because it was unlikely that they would be discovered in a brothel. One way or another, by the end of their time there, they have changed the course of her life, and in a sense, all of our lives.
The king of Jericho gets word that there are spies in the land, and he sends his representatives to Rahab’s house. Instead of turning them in, she lies to them and tells them that the spies were there, but have now left and are on their way out of the city. While the guards rush through the night streets, Rahab crawls up to her roof where she has hidden the men under stalks of flax. She whispers to them while they lie there, and she tells them that she knows what the Lord has done for them. She has heard about the parting of the sea, and she believes that God Himself is on their side. She tells them that she believes their God is “God of heaven above and on the earth below.” (Joshua 2:11). Essentially, she believes in God more than she fears for herself. She lies to the authorities to protect these strangers, because she wants to be on the side of God, as they are. In faith, she put her trust in the Lord.
She tells the spies that she will keep them safe as long as they will promise not to harm her family when they storm the city. They agree. She lets down a cord from her window and helps them with an escape plan out of the city. The men tell her that they will be back to battle shortly, and in order for her family to be kept safe, she must do one thing. She must gather her family into her home and then drop a scarlet cord from her window to signify that they are to be spared in the fighting.
It wasn’t the first time the Lord used a symbol like this, foreshadowing the blood shed by Christ.
This is one of the things I love most about Jesus. He is the God of redemption. He loves to take the underdog and show them that they are not who they thought they were. He took a woman who made a scandalous living, and he blessed her because she believed in God with holy, reverent fear. He didn’t just “let” her into the story. He chose her for the story.
He chose you for the story.
The story of Rahab is one of trust. The blood-red cord comes spilling from a window, desperately clutched on one end by a woman who believes in the God she has yet to meet. This is the cord that will save her and her family from disaster.
So where are we in all of this? We are the sinners who have the power of the scarlet cord, dropped in faith and held with utter conviction that He will save us.
We don’t always love the Lord the way we want to. We get distracted, our mind wanders, and we get off task easily…
Yet each of us is a woman who stands at the foot of the cross, forgiven. Each of us clinging to the scarlet rope.
And here is the best part of the story, and probably the least expected twist in the plot. At some later point in time, Rahab becomes pregnant, and gives birth to a son, whom she names “Boaz.”
Are you ready for this family tree?
Rahab is the mother of Boaz.
Boaz is the father of Obed.
Obed is the father of Jessie
Jessie is the father of David.
And if you skip a couple of generations…Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
She was a sin-filled woman with a controversial story.
She was a castoff.
She was imperfect, immoral, and improper.
She was handpicked to be part of His lineage.
She was redeemed by faith.
Almost four weeks ago I found out I was expecting our third child. For most this would be instantly a time of excitement and joy. I anticipated a time filled with fear and worry. Most of you know that our second son Charlie was born with Down syndrome. And while genetic testing tells us that our odds of having another child with the same syndrome is extremely low, our world and the enemy whisper that I should keep quiet. To not share our good news. That I should be worried and fearful.
But not me. This was my baby from the moment I found out I was pregnant. And while our society encourages new moms to hide their good news, “until it’s safe,” I’m happy to share the news that a new life has been added to our family – even though I don’t know what plans the Lord has for this child.
Instead, I have chosen to open up a window and drop a scarlet cord. And my Lord, despite any hardships I have encountered in the past, has kept His promises to me.
After taking my first (and second, third and fourth) pregnancy tests I whispered each time “Lord your will be done.” And the peace and joy that can only come from His freedom has filled my heart and spirit.
I can assure you that this is not my typical “natural” reaction to big moments in my life. Right now, if my mind were left to wander I would be a mess. But I recognize that I have truly put my faith and trust in the Lord. All of it.
I don’t know what the Lord has in store for our family, but I’m not worried. Really. He has a great plan for us – each one of us and it isn’t until we can truly give everything over to Him – our trust, our hope in things or people – everything – that we will experience the gift of freedom He wants to share with each of us.
My prayer for each of you is that you would have the courage to open up the window and drop a scarlet cord.
Again, it wasn’t my original idea, but it was one that I have taken and run with. At our family girls weekend in Seattle (has it already been three weeks?) I presented each woman with their own scarlet cord. Some are wearing them as necklaces, but I wear mine around my right wrist (Kabbahlists wear red strings on their left.) Each was made with a charm that said either “joy,” “love,” “faith,” or “hope.” I wear mine as a reminder of the scarlet cord I have dropped in faith. (Jess, yours is in the mail!)