Tea ~ Jasmine Pearls (shocking, I know!)
A few months ago, God revealed something harmful to our relationship that was so deeply rooted in me that I didn’t even notice. Have you ever had that happen to you? You feel like you know yourself and what you should be doing with your time and your life so well that you completely ignore any promptings from the Holy Spirit that this particular thing has become an idol in your life. Something that you consider more important than your relationship with Him.
Well this is such a thing. But before I get into my personal idol, I want to share a piece of Scripture that has so perfectly paralleled with this situation that we all find ourselves in, sometimes daily, that if we just had this ONE THING, everything would be better. Nay, PERFECT!
Esau (who was the older of 2 twin brothers) was always more favored by their father, Isaac, as the first born, but their mother, Rebekah, favored Jacob and wanted him to receive the blessing before Isaac died. So Jacob posed as Esau and deceived his father to receive his blessing. Afterward Jacob went to live with his uncle, Laban. After a month’s time, Laban asked Jacob how much his wages should be for working for him.
“Now Laban had two daughters. The older daughter was named Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes (i.e., she was not attractive), but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face. Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.” Genesis 29:16-18
7 years of work was way too much to pay for a bride at that time, Jacob was desperate to have her because he thought that if this one thing went right in his life, it would make it worth all the years of being second best to his brother, Esau. So, Laban agreed and Jacob worked the 7 years which seemed to go by in only a few days.
Finally, the time came for him to marry her. “I have fulfilled my agreement,” Jacob said to Laban. “Now give me my wife so I can sleep with her.” (A very inappropriate thing to say to a woman’s father) So Laban invited everyone in the neighborhood and prepared a wedding feast. But that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her…But when Jacob woke up in the morning – it was Leah! “What have you done to me?” Jacob raged at Laban. “I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?”
“It’s not our custom here to marry off a younger daughter ahead of the firstborn,” Laban replied.(I’m sure adding salt to the wound with the firstborn favoritism) But wait until the bridal week is over, then we’ll give you Rachel, too – provided you promise to work another 7 years for me.” Vs. 21-27
So Jacob agreed to work the 7 years and then Laban gave him Rachel. “So Jacob slept with Rachel, too, and he loved her much more than Leah. He then stayed and worked for Laban the additional 7 years.” vs. 30
Laban deceived Jacob in the same way that Jacob deceived his father. God was teaching Jacob through this situation — that having what you so badly want will not quench your thirst. Jacob having Rachel was not the answer to his sad, unsavory life. Success, a spouse, health, the new iPhone, friends, beauty, a house, wealth, a different family, careers, you name it will not miraculously make your life better because you have it. Even when you have it, you will not be content. Only God can quench your thirst and He will provide what you need when you need it if you will place your trust in Him. However, what you need is not necessarily what you want.
The story continues with Leah being unloved, but able to have children and Rachel being adored and being unable to have children. Leah had 3 sons and each time she said, “Now, at last my husband will love me!” and each time, nothing really changed. Leah wanted the same love & affection from her husband that Jacob wanted from his father. And Leah also thought that giving her husband many children (and sons!) when her more beautiful sister couldn’t would bring her favor. God was teaching her the same thing He was showing Jacob through all of this. By the 4th son, Judah, she said “Now I will praise the Lord!” And then she stopped having children. vs. 35
Finally, after years of saying, “If I only had this one thing…” Leah stopped pursuing man’s definition of success and started to praise and glorify God in her situation, whatever it was. God is good and works things for our good. He promises this in Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” God works everything together for our good, you can trust and believe in that! All of the obstacles and disappointments are pointing toward our good that will ultimately bring you to trust Him more. And as I said last time, through Jesus Christ and trusting in the Lord we are made perfect, adequate and worthy. But notice that verse 28 says everything works together for the good of those who love God. Have you opened your hands and hearts to allow Him to work for your good?
There is one area that I had decided I could take care of myself. I had this weird notion that even though Greg & I are married, I still had to earn my keep (financially speaking) in our marriage. That everything had to be fair and shared. It was difficult to earn my keep when his 2 year training program could potentially move us around every 3-5 months. I waited tables for a while and coached volleyball and when we bought our house in Dallas and settled down a bit, I thought “Finally, I can start my career!” I was so happy to stop moving and stay in one place because it was my turn. I started working full time AND coached a couple nights a week and 2 weekends a month. He was traveling 2 weeks a month. Sometimes he would be gone all week and then I would be gone all weekend. I’m not gonna lie, it was dreadful. Many times, I was so stressed out about getting everything done at home, pleasing my bosses and doing my jobs well (all pressure that I put on myself, mind you) that I would have an emotional meltdown. God bless my husband! He got the leftovers. The upset, overwhelmed, exhausted leftovers. He looked at me, wiped my tears and said “I hate to be the one to break it to ya, but something’s gotta change.” And honestly, I was looking for permission. My flesh was weak and too loyal and people-pleasing for my own good. God knows my heart so well, and my husband not far behind. I am so thankful for family and friends in my life who take the time to know me and follow their promptings to say when something needs to change when I’m too weak to listen to my own promptings.
There is more to this story about how we moved from Dallas, where I was doing my jobs really well and had to leave them kicking and screaming. I will continue in the next post, so stay tuned! But for now, don’t be deceived by that ONE THING that will make your life better or worthwhile. There is only disappointment with what you wake up to the next morning.