Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Pathway to Radiant Womanhood: Rahab

I have been doing a lot of research on womanhood and lady-likeness - what it is now, in the 21st century, and what it used to be years ago. I have been studying the lives of our culture's "examples" of womanhood and I have been studying the lives of women who showcased REAL, radical womanhood in God's book.

The result? Well, so far, I have been overwhelmingly heartbroken.

We have been brought up in a culture that elevates the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Paris Hilton. We live in a day where Hollywood starlets are our mentors. The glamorous females that grace the covers of Seventeen, Elle, and Cosmopolitan magazines are the women we look up to as the ideal, the ones who set the pattern for who we are and who we’re supposed to be. Ironically, the standard and example for womanhood is set by women who have a history of multiple marriages, depression, drug and alcohol addictions, eating disorders, and suicidal attempts. And we look up to these women who say they have it all, yet who are searching….just like we are. We look to the pop idols and icons of Hollywood who live in discontentment, and we never take a second glance at the timeless beauty of the women throughout the ages whose legacy contains more than a pretty face or an entertaining song or movie.

All throughout history, beginning with Biblical times, there has been a remnant of young women who have found more, who have caught sight of the vision God has for them and who would not settle for anything less. I would like to begin discussing some of them.

Let's start with Rahab...
(read Joshua 2 and Joshua 6)

All throughout her life, Rahab lived a life of idolatry and sinful shame. She was a prostitute in a city called Jericho and offered herself to one man after another. Such was her job. But like millions around the world today, she was searching.

Giving herself to one sexual partner after the next had long since scarred her heart and her body. She felt cheap and unimportant. She tried to detach herself from her emotions and become immune to the pain of being used and left alone after her work was done but, deep down, she was hurting and lost in a world that demanded from her all that was precious, delicate, and sacred. Years of paganism had taken their toll and she could no longer find any comfort or peace in the gods of her people. Nothing was real and she wondered if there was such a thing as truth. She remembered, from her childhood, her dreams of getting married and having children. She remembered the simplicity of her world back then. What had happened to bring her to this? How did she get here? Rahab was not born a prostitute. As a little girl, she never would have imagined her life could become this empty. But yet, there she was full of memories of laughter, innocence, and excitement, but surrounded by the reality of tears, shame, and anguish.

It was then that she remembered something. For weeks, she had heard talk and whisperings amongst the people of the city. The Israelites worshipped a God that, rumor had it, opened up the waters of the Red Sea. He had plagued the Egyptians with frogs, lice, boils, darkness, and all manner of terrors and pestilence. Their God, this Jehovah, had led His people out of captivity and had given them freedom from their oppressors.

She wanted that kind of God for her own.

It was at that moment that she encountered the one true God; the transformer of lives. She recalled the vision of greatness and fulfillment from her childhood and slowly began to believe that she could reach it, take hold of it, and have it as her very own. She realized that this Jehovah the Israelites worshipped had to be real, for the people were experiencing mighty victory. She, too, wanted victory. She wanted meaning and a reason to live that called for more than what was demanded of her each and every day. She longed for something greater than the emptiness of her profession. The God of all revealed Himself to Rahab and she believed, by faith, that He was who He said He was. She yielded her life - her very existence - to His ownership and became a woman of faith and redemption. She exhibited faith by the choices she made. She forsook her pagan belief, she left her sexual sin, and she placed her life into the hands of Jehovah God and said, The Lord God, He is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath.

We are very similar to Rahab. Maybe we have not been unfaithful to our spouse, but we are all guilty of being unfaithful to our Heavenly Bridegroom. Rahab was like many of us who search for love in all the wrong places. She was like us who accept the culture around us and give in to the belief that sex is up for grabs, and has no emotional, physical, or spiritual consequences. She was like us who try to forget fairytales and “happily ever afters.” She was like us who follow other gods and never bow and surrender to the only true God.

Yet Rahab found the answer to the age-old question, Can there be more to life than this? As she found the answer in the God of the Israelites, she relinquished her rights, her future, her comfort, and her very life and cried for more of His divine love and grace. Biblical history does not say if she fed the hungry, gave to the poor, or tended to the sick. It does not say if she traveled all over the world telling people about what had happened to her, but the Bible does say that she was a woman of faith, handpicked by God with a royal purpose in mind. She became one of the few women mentioned in the famous “Hall of Faith” found in Hebrews 11 and was even chosen and placed in the ancestry of Jesus Christ Himself.

The well-known performance Britney Spears presented at the 2001 American Music Awards is a very good picture of what most Christians do spiritually. It was said to be one of her greatest performances. She was dressed to maximum seductiveness as she sang, danced, and swayed to the music. As the crowd sat in awe of her performance, she picked up a large boa constrictor snake and with slow, sensual steps, she walked around the stage with the snake around her shoulders. Using this act was not simply to entertain and thrill millions with the excitement of danger, it was also to demonstrate to her growing fans that she was no longer a child, but a woman; a powerful, confident, sexual goddess with no need for anything. She had bought into the lie and believed the message Satan seeks to feed to all women which is the mentality of seductiveness, rebellion and self-display.

Rahab had once become wrapped up in the very same lie. Many Christians do the very same thing in their own individual ways. We listen to the whispers of the evil villain and believe our beauty, achievement, and power comes from ourselves and our feminine charms. We believe that to be successful, we have to take it for ourselves. We believe to be beautiful, we have to wear less. We believe to be a true woman, we must toy with minds and play with fire. And so we pick up a snake and prance around our stage proclaiming we have arrived as women, unaware of the full extent of the danger and our spiritual immaturity. In doing such, we fall farther and farther away from the truth.

Typically, the culture in which we live shines a blinding light down a highway of pleasure and gratification, yet that path we are directed in ultimately gets us nowhere. Plenty of “detour” signs and “short cuts to success” are promised, but whatever happiness we attain from those roads are temporary and unfulfilling. In return, we are mystified and left searching for the right pathway. Like Rahab, some women turn down the road of sexual sin because they desire physical pleasure. Some want to simply fit in and please others. Some are merely manipulated, and many a just want distraction. We often have a difficult time training our minds to look beyond what we see. The Lord always has the bigger picture in view. Rahab could not see the fulfilling wonder that God had in store for her in the future. All she could see was the emptiness of her life and the many mistakes of her past at that one moment. Let’s view our lives through Heaven’s eyes, shall we?

Let us get our focus off of physical indulgences and instant gratification and gaze upon the road less traveled, with its eternal joy and adventure.

Psalm 16:11
"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."

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