Today's Reading: Genesis 19-21
When I was a teenager, I read through the whole Bible for the first time. I remember being shocked and mortified by the Genesis narratives. In the chapters for today, I found stories not included in my Sunday School lessons. My Sunday School primer had titles like "God creates the world," "God makes a promise," "God destroys wickedness" and "A baby is born."
I couldn't imagine a Sunday School curriculum which would insert these stories: "Men of Sodom seek 'relations' with other men," "Lot offers his daughters to be raped," "Drunkenness and Incest in the Lot family," "News Flash: Abram and Sarai are brother and sister," "Abram puts his wife in another man's harem," "Bible hero leaves young woman and child left to die in desert."
I think it is my tendency to pick and choose palatable passages from scripture. I avoid the ones that make me squirm or embarrass me. I tend not to deal with them at all.
It is the same with my own life stories. I point the lime light upon moments of faith and heroism, and try to deeply bury my squirmy, embarrassing stories in the darkness.
Scripture, though, puts "the good, the bad and the ugly" side by side, on the same page. The stories of God's people are so "unedited," their believability is more likely.
What's going on in these stories? Is there anything "redemptive" about them? What can we learn?
Backing up to chapter 18, we hear from God that the "sin is exceedingly grave" in Sodom and Gomorrah. God has decided to destroy the towns. But in mercy, God warns Abraham, sends angels to get Lot and his family out of town, and follows through on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The descendants of incest, Moab and Ammon, are seen by the Israelites as second class citizens. God, though, redeems a Moabite woman named Ruth and through her, redeems the world. (Ruth is the great grandmother of King David, from whose line, Jesus is born.)
God saves Sarai and Abram from their poor choice with Abimelech, protects and preserves Hagar and Ishmael and allows Abraham to have peace with an enemy.
If I focus on the action of "God's chosen people," I will certainly be disappointed if not appalled. As I focus on the action and integrity of God, I am comforted.
God hates wickedness.
God follows through on God's promises.
God is merciful to the outcast.
God protects and preserves God's people.
Life is for "mature audiences only." I best hear this message and "grow up" in the wisdom, stature and favor of God if I am to face all the squirmy and embarrassing scenarios which will come my way.
If I see only the results of sin, I will be depressed and hopeless.
If I focus on the actions and integrity of God, I will be inspired and full of faith.
As I sojourn through the land of life, teach me LORD, to examine all my stories.
Teach me to focus on your attributes and not on mine.
And may I ever have the faith to call upon your Everlasting name.