Instead of posting a devotional today, I wanted to participate in a virtual chat with the readers of the blog "Internet Cafe Devotions". Each week Kim poses a question for us to consider and weigh in on. So while I am going to share my thoughts here, I encourage you to jump into the chat as well! Use the comment section below, or go to the Cafe Chat and comment there or add a link.
After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, "Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be."
16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel."
19 Laban said, "It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me." 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her."
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. 24 And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant.
25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?"
26 Laban replied, "It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work."
28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant. 30 Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.
31 When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, "It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now."
33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too." So she named him Simeon.
34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." So he was named Levi.
35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "This time I will praise the LORD." So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
I found myself rejoicing that Leah finally learned to find her worth, value, acceptance and love in God and stopped seeking it from Jacob.
I was reminded of how we as women too often work so hard to win the approval of others that we miss the intimacy of a loving relationship with God. And of course, isn't it just like the enemy to do whatever he can to distract us from the face of God so we miss out on all that He offers us through salvation. If he can get us to look to others for the affirmation, love, acceptance and value we were created to receive from God, then he can torment us for the duration of that search.
The tormenting looks a lot like what we saw in Leah. "Maybe this time Jacob will accept me" "Maybe this time Jacob will love me" How many years was Leah tormented by the feeling of not being accepted or loved?
How many years do we live in the torment of wondering what we can do to be more loved or more accepted?
- If I volunteer more at (church, school, community...) people will value me more
- If I raise perfect children people will value me more
- If I please people more, I will be loved more
- If I....
- If I...
- If I...
This is not to say that we shouldn't volunteer, strive to be godly parents, honor others above ourselves, and so on. The point is to open our eyes to see the motivaton of our hearts. When our heart's desires are from God, we do all these things to bring Him glory, not to glorify ourselves to receive love, acceptance or value. To work with a heart filled with God's desires, we must have that intimate relationship.
So I suppose my answer to the question today is, I rejoice with Leah rather than sympathize with Leah. When you read the rest of the story, you see that the birth of this fourth son is not the end of Leah's refining story, but just one of the refining points along the way. And then there is Rachel's refining story...but that's for another day! We could also spend a day talking about the consequences of this misguided quest for love and acceptance on the family. As you read the rest of the story you see that it plays out with bitterness and stiving to be accepted in the story of Joseph and his brothers (Joseph being Rachel's son).
But enough for now! Today, let's rejoice in the love, acceptance and value we find in the blood of Christ and in the eyes of God. And while we are on our knees, lets ask God to show us any striving in our works to find that love, value and acceptance in personal glory so we can confess, repent and be healed to His glory!
Father God, I rejoice in the gift of life you offered at the cross. This gift of salvation brings me into a full relationship with you. A relationship where I am fully loved, fully valued and fully accepted by YOU, my CREATOR. My heart fills with tears of joy as I embrace the fullness of that reality! And at the same time I am convicted of times that I lose sight of this and fall into striving for that love and acceptance from things of the earth and my personal works. Lord, continue to open my eyes to see when I am looking for what you offer in other places. Give me eyes to see the difference and a heart that is quick to respond; shifting my eyes back to You. I want my heart to desire only that which brings you glory Lord. I come to you in the name of my precious Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
So let's keep chatting! What's on your heart today? Want to hear more? Remember to hop on over to the Internet Cafe!